Fusterlandia

There’s nothing quite like this place.

Over thirty-years ago, Jose Fuster transformed Jaimanitas, a community on the outskirts of Havana, into a living, functioning art.

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What started out as a place to really craft his art and decorate Casa Fuster, ended up with a monumental decision to give back to the community. Now, The community project encompasses over 50 houses in the neighborhood  in which the residents have allowed Fuster to use their homes, walls, and benches as one giant canvas.

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When we entered, I was struck by its beauty. I was never a fan of post-modern art, but there was something charming and almost “naive” about Fuster’s artwork. It reminded me, in an abstract sort of way, of the Cuban people I knew back home; lively, humble, and proud of their ancestry. I didn’t hesitate to buy a piece of art.

I think one of the most surprising things I learned about the man was his dedication to his craft. Maybe all artists are this intense or maybe it’s just him, but ceramics aren’t exactly common in Cuba. On a trip to the United States, he managed to stuff hundreds of mosaic tiles into his luggage and he used all of it to restyle the neighborhood.

From what I understood, Jaimanitas was an economically depressed area before Fuster arrived. But now, tourists often arrive in droves to Fusterlandia and the souvenir places across from it are always ready to sell.

Fuster is a firm Castro-supporter yet he was one of the few artists that we met that was aware of the faults of the revolution. I think that regardless of what you feel about the Cuban government, you can admire a man like Fuster who uses his work to help improve his community instead of hiding behind his fame.

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