Ode to Necessity/ Oda a la Necesidad
This project is in honor of the tangible and intangible practices amongst contemporary Cubans. It will hold a special place in my heart forever. I had an amazing opportunity to participate in a trip with the Otis College MFA program in Havana. We traveled together and collaborated with young professors and students from ISA (Instituto Superior de Arte). My fellow designer from Otis, Mady Preece, and I collaborated with Martha Maria Rivera, our Cuban counterpart and creative genius.
We spent a lot of time speaking to Martha about her life in Cuba, in awe of how she was able to create so many tools herself because of a limited budget and access to resources. While to us it seems like a cool alternative way to gather repurpose items, for Martha it's a necessity. But the way in which she creates the items she needs is so beautiful and clever, we thought it was important to honor the work she, and many artists like her, do on a daily basis today in Cuba.
Because we collaborated on this book exclusively in Havana, we didn't have most of our normal tools on us. Our digital programs would do us no good because we couldn't access the internet or even a printer at the location where we were working.
Everything was done by hand: the illustrations, the binding, and every single word on each page. I would know, I wrote each English part, then gave crude Google Spanish translations of that writing to Martha who then edited the computer's words to sound like they came from a real human, then wrote the Spanish by hand as well. Since our piece was being shown at a gallery in Havana, it was important to me for all of our texts to be understood by the primary audience.
Materials and Construction
Our book was bound not with string but a plastic bag. Martha had some gold tape from an old cigar box. The covers were from the back pads of construction paper packs I had brought with me to Cuba, covered in handmade paper made by an ISA professor. We used soda tabs to create differentiations between each section. The pages inside were made of construction paper and handmade paper.