Photo by Dan Kvitka.

The mural depicted, Pambiche, was completed in 2011 by Emily Beeks and Rachel Oleson. It “is a cultural depiction of Cuba, inspired by its history, people, and traditions. It blends Cuba’s unique music, dance, architecture, historical figures, and natural beauty. The mural gives visibility to the historically misconstrued people and culture of Cuba and provides an educational opportunity for the community at large,” according to Oleson. The colorful display, funded by the Regional Arts & Culture Council along with private donations, is located in an area of Portland frequented by Cuban refugees. The iconography depicted includes La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre (Our Lady of El Cobre) – The Virgin of Charity and patroness of Cuba – and the myth of her guiding islanders to safety; famed Cuban singer Benny Moré; salsa great Celia Cruz; sugarcane, Cuba’s principal crop; and the Cuban coat of arms.

Of the work, Oleson told Artslandia, “It was an honor to be part of the collaborative process of visually bringing to life the stories behind this mural. From our shared impression of the massive wall with challenging architecture to the natural dovetailing of our individual styles as we pieced together ideas, Emily and I were committed to taking viewers on a journey through some of Cuba’s beloved history.”

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