Former rapper and hip-hop producer Mark Guglielmo debuts a new series Cuba in Transition at A.P.E. Ltd. Gallery in Northampton
Mark Guglielmo’s resume is as layered as his collages. A former rapper and hip-hop producer, known as Vesuveo, the audio-turned-visual artist and Northampton resident has a new series, Cuba in Transition: Narrative and Perspective, at the A.P.E. Ltd. Gallery.
Guglielmo first visited Cuba two years ago with a group of friends he met salsa dancing in Northampton. “I had such a profound experience down there, that I had to do something as an artist to share with the world what I was feeling,” says Guglielmo. He has since returned to Cuba twice, and is now ready to share his experiences through the form of photo-collages and interviews.
Guglielmo took the photographs and conducted the interviews in the series during seven weeks spent in the Pearl of the Antilles exploring Santiago de Cuba, Baracoa, Havana, Viñales, Cienfuegos, and Trinidad. “For me, Cubans are the real draw,” says Guglielmo of his experiences staying at casa particulars, or Cuban families’ homes, while visiting. “You have lots of real conversations with people in Cuba, real connecting. There is little to no barrier for strong human connection if you have the courage and Spanish to bridge the gap.”
To date, Guglielmo has completed 16 collages in this series, with plans to make more before his upcoming shows in Cuba this February. The materials for these collages, Guglielmo says, mainly came from simply walking the streets in Cuba. “I’m not interested in normal tourist activities. I go horseback riding in the Cuban outback. I search for the perfect mojito. I swim in underground caves. I watch the world go by from the back seat of a bici-taxi. I drink rum with strangers. I get great $1 haircuts.”
Guglielmo used neither a computer or Photoshop in creating these collages. “I’m on the computer too much as it is. I do not want to be on it when I’m making art,” says Guglielmo of his need to disconnect. “I also really like the tactile, old-fashioned approach of putting my fingers on the work. There’s no barrier between me and the pieces. They’re really an extension of me, not something filtered through a computer. My process is very simple; a child could do it: just scissors, tape and 4×6″ photos.”
Guglielmo’s seeking simplicity is not as evident in his pieces of art, which are a complex mosaic of experience. Instead, he says his desire to come home and create his art in the Pioneer Valley after 15 years spent in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and New York reflects this interest. “Ten years ago I moved up here, and I’ve never been happier,” he says. “This area has everything I want: nature, affordability, culture, music, diversity.”
Mark Guglielmo’s series Cuba In Transition: Narrative and Perspective is at the A.P.E. Ltd. Gallery June 1-25, with an opening reception on Friday June 9 from 5-9 p.m.