Cuban Artist Shares His Inspiration

Ross students, faculty, and staff were treated to a special guest from Havana, Cuba, this week. Artist and performer Mr. Manuel Mendive Hoyo visited both campuses, meeting with students, teaching workshops, and speaking about his artwork on April 16 and 17.

Influenced by the Yoruban culture of West Africa, Mendive’s work incorporates many art media, including drawing, painting, body painting, woodcarving, sculpture, and performance that integrates loosely choreographed dance with rhythmic music. His Afro-Cuban imagery explores themes such as mythology, religion, and the struggles of contemporary life.

Mendive taught a shamanism art class with the third, fourth, and fifth graders at the Lower School, where they drew their favorite animals, and led an open studio with advanced high school art students. He also spoke to the ninth and tenth graders about the inspiration for his art in the Senior Lecture Hall and imparted a few life lessons. Speaking in Spanish with a translator, Mendive explained that he finds inspiration everywhere and was especially moved by his visits to Africa and Paris. When asked how, after so many years, he continues to find subjects for his artwork, he said, “As long as a person is alive, he has ideas,” adding later, “Life is hard. Beautiful, but hard. And I work to make life more beautiful.”