A small space in the Vedado district of Havana serves as headquarters of Tu Taller, a sociocultural project that teaches the wonders of visual arts and makes no distinction regarding gender or age group.
Two former students of the San Alejandro National Academy of Fine Arts, Malcolm Baró and Naidel Herrera Rojas, set out to pass on their knowledge to a group of students. This decision went on to show, once again, that in difficult times, brilliant ideas come up: “At first,” says one of the teachers, “we created Tu Taller for financial reasons because we were out of work, but right now it is a huge part of our lives, and I cannot think of myself, or of my work as an artist, without the experiences and knowledge that I have gained from this workshop.”
Both Malcolm and Naidel come from similar pedagogical experiences and collaborate with cultural centers and community actions. The passion for teaching that they share led to the Tu Taller workshop, which focuses exclusively on teaching the specific art forms the two artists practice.
The Tu Taller project opened in late 2017. It currently has 80 members ranging from little kids to teenagers who live in Plaza de la Revolución and adjacent districts. The kids all share a common interest: an appreciation for the visual arts, which is supplemented by the pleasure of making new friends of different ages. Everyone learns the basics in design, clay modeling, painting and printmaking, while quality feedback is produced from students with their peers and teachers.
Giving new meaning to a blank sheet of paper, a piece of wood or a T-shirt that they no longer thought they would wear is one of the advantages offered by Tu Taller. The creative challenges undertaken by the participants through the different techniques they learn at the workshop encourage these children to attend each meeting in order to channel their concerns and expectations of showing their art.
This project, however, has captured the interest not only of students and teachers, but of the parents as well, who make their children’s dreams possible by providing essential materials to work with. Aware that this endeavor would help shape future painters, designers or sculptors who through their work reveal their hopes, behaviors and thinking, and connect them to their surroundings and the city, Amano magazine contributes materials and provides professional support looking to make the project a nationwide reference model.
Beyond any obstacles and challenges, creativity takes center stage at Tu Taller. Adults, including senior citizens, will be the next students. Malcolm, Naidel and everyone else involved in the workshop aim at having a space that is open to anyone and everyone wishing to learn, enjoy, depict and exhibit visual arts, develop their skills and enrich their spirituality. ▪