Mystery and Magic of Afro-Cuban Spirituality
Anthony Caronia, photographer

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April 21, 2016
Additional images available

Greg Svitil | T: 202.370.0147 |

Mystery and Magic of Afro-Cuban Spirituality
Anthony Caronia, photographer

On view May 4-June 17, 2016
OAS F Street Gallery
1889 F Street, NW, Washington DC 20006

By appointment only, Mon-Fri from 9am to 5pm
Please call 202-370-0151

Opening Reception (no appointment necessary): May 4, 2016 at 6pm
Featuring Orishabo  - AfroCuban-Yoruba drumming group

Washington, DC: The OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas presents Afro-Cuba: Mystery and Magic of Afro-Cuban Spirituality, a project conceived by Renato Miracco - curator, critic and Cultural Attaché of the Italian Embassy in Washington DC. Afro-Cuba is based on a four-year research and documentary project by Italian anthropologist and photographer Anthony Caronia. The exhibition project has been organized in collaboration with the OAS Secretariat for Access to Rights and Equity and is held under the patronage of the Permanent Observer Mission of Italy to the OAS. This exhibition is the first in a series of programs commemorating the birth centennial of AMA’s founding director, José Gómez Sicre.

To Caronia, this exhibition is a photographic representation of faith and courage that explores how religious rituals in Cuba are deeply intertwined with everyday life. Caronia gives viewers the feeling of intrusion into a world that they might otherwise not have access to. The photographs glimpse into altars, sacrifices, obsession, dances, initiation, and the cleansing ritual. Viewers are encouraged to consider fundamental issues such as the adaptation of roots, self-identity, and the attraction of a religion that does not necessarily distinguish between the sacred and the secular. According to Caronia “this photo project carefully documents complex religion in which African spirits manifest their presence in everyday Cuban life.”

There are some 200 million people of African descent in the Americas and they are among the most vulnerable groups in the hemisphere, stemming from slave trade, slavery, colonialism, racism, racial discrimination, and intolerance. The OAS and the Summits of the Americas Process have repeatedly expressed concern regarding inclusion, respect for human rights, and increased attention to the needs of this group. The OAS has recognized the International Decade for People of African Descent proclaimed by the United Nations and in November of 2015 approved the establishment of the Working Group to prepare the Plan of Action for the Decade for People of African Descent in the Americas.

This plan promotes awareness about the rights of and discrimination against people of African descent. It includes campaigns to diminish discrimination against those practicing African-based religions. The plan also provides a framework for the OAS to implement policies, projects, and cooperation schemes to recognize and promote the rights of these groups.

The AMA | Art Museum of the Americas is part of the Organization of American States (OAS)and its Secretariat for Hemispheric Affairs. AMA’s work is based on the principle that the arts are transformative for individuals and communities. AMA promotes the core values of the OAS by providing a space for cultural expression, creativity, and learning, highlighting themes such as democracy, development, human rights, justice, freedom of expression, and innovation. AMA’s work advances the inter-American agenda, drawing on the arts to showcase a constructive vision of the future of the Americas via local and hemispheric cultural exchange. This is achieved by showcasing cutting-edge exhibits of artists whose output creatively combine aesthetics with topical social and political issues.

For more information on AMA, please visit