Artist Talk with Cielo Cruz

artwork by Cielo Cruz

Artist Talk with Cielo Cruz
Paper Machine’s October 2022 Artist in Residence.
Friday, October 28 from 6 to 8 p.m.
at Paper Machine, 6330 St Claude Avenue

Cielo describes their project: “When I tell the story of what brought me to New Orleans over two decades ago, there are many roots to that tree. There was an assignment to support local justice movements that introduced me to organizers, artists, prison abolitionists, human rights attorneys, musicians and visionaries. Another root was spiritual and musical and water– the river, all intertwined and complex and recalling my Cuban ancestors and my family living off and on the island. In New Orleans, the interconnection of struggle, spirit and Story are not just apparent, they glow bright, and mundane, commonplace, everywhere… like water in the air. I want to explore this intersection in the only way that can hold it all–art. Specifically, I created a paper based “visual album” …a braided essay that weaves together (my/) New Orleans’ movement histories, my family’s migration stories and the ambient witchy threads in between, manifest through interviews, maps, collages, poems, and spells.”

portrait of R. Cielo Cruz

Cielo Cruz (they/them) is a writer, parent, social justice movement leader, intersectional feminist, and multi-media artist. They have lived in New Orleans for 25 years and in that time, worked closely with numerous organizations in the struggle for racial justice, lgbtqia+ liberation and immigrant rights. They hold an MA in Latin American Studies from the Stone Center at Tulane University. Born in the US to Cuban parents, Cruz identifies as a pre-natal exile, remaining close to the grandparents and other family who stayed behind in Cuba. They were raised by a single mother in a multi-racial community in North Miami in the 1970s and 80s. Cruz draws deeply from this experience, as well as their close ties to the Caribbean, in their writing.

Writing by Cruz has been published in Black Warrior Review, Colorlines, hipMama, Bridge the Gulf Project and the anthology Mamaphonic. Cruz is a 2017 and 2020 VONA Voices Fellow. Their writing practice is now centered on Speculative Fiction and Afro-Futurist influenced Magical Realism.