Artistic and Cultural Exchange between the US & Cuba: Then & Now

Victoria Menchaca, Ordway 10/18/15

In this ORDWAY EXTRA, Mariesa Sun-Saenz, Yrak Saenz, and Sarah White reveal how they fostered the United States and Cuba’s support of art and culture in order to alter the public’s preconceived perceptions of each country. They reflect: Can organizations like the US Cuba Artist Exchange model how politicians should collaborate on issues of foreign policy in the future?

In this video, panelists discussed the work of artistic collaboration and exchange across US and Cuban political borders before and after the recent restoration of diplomatic relations before Pedrito Martinez’s Ordway performance.

Videography/Photography: Sherine Onukwuwe, Souleye Films

Speaker Bios

Mariesa Sun-Saenz
Director and Co-Founder of US Cuba Artist Exchange

With over ten years of event planning, marketing, and public relations experience, Mariesa Sun-Saenz is the director and co-founder of the US Cuba Artist Exchange (USCAE). USCAE aims to enrich US and Cuba communities through the development of artists from both countries, the production and exhibition of collaborative works, and the infusion of inspiration and influence from each other’s culture.

Sarah White
Photographer, Storyteller, and Producer

Sarah White is a producing artist and photographer for USCAE. White has performed internationally, sharing stages and collaborating with talented artists including Yasiin Bey, K-OS, Macy Gray, King Britt, J*Davey, and M.ANIFEST. Sarah offers versatility with multitude of experience including live band performances & DJ sets to Vocal Soundscapes and acoustic candlelit harmonies. Proving that being a mother doesn’t mean you have to drop a beat, Sarah has independently released 2 solo albums, her voice is featured on record label releases form the Midwest to Tokyo and she won Scion’s best electric vocalist competition while living in NYC. Recent projects include traveling to Cuba and recording in Havana, NEON soul band – Shiro Dame -, and the new EP: Laughing at Ghosts.

Yraz Saenz
Cuban Hip Hop Artist, Producer, and Cultural Ambassador

Born and raised in Havana, Cuba, Yrak Saenz is best known as part of the rap duo Doble Filo. Doble Filo participated in Cuban hip hop festivals in the late ‘90s and have one of the first official recordings of Cuban rap. Now, he works with The Cuban Artist Project and the USCAE in order to promote cultural appreciation and personal growth between American and Cuban artists.

The Pedrito Martinez Group captivates audiences worldwide with their Afro-Cuban folkloric music and mastery of the batá drum. Born in Havana, Cuba, Pedrito Martinez has recorded with stars like Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, and Sting and contributed to over 75 albums. The Pedrito Martinez Group currently is touring nationally and internationally to promote their latest album Habana Dreams.

View more photos in an online gallery >

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