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Sandra Ramos

Sandra Ramos, artist, and Michelle Bird, curatorial assistant, department of French paintings, National Gallery of Art. In this conversation, which took place on June 21, 2011 as part of the Works in Progress series at the National Gallery of Art, Havana-based artist Sandra Ramos describes her use of various media to explore issues related to the recovery of both individual and collective memory. Blending memorabilia from past events—real and imagined, personal and historical—the artist creates a phantasmagorical new world from the "ruins of a utopia." In this world, forbidden topics such as migration, racism, and the political manipulation of history become the quotidian subjects of her art. The main protagonist is a character who fuses her own self-image with that of a print of a 19th-century Dutch princess. Evoking a postmodern Alice in Wonderland, she navigates through the complexities of life on the island. Floating somewhere between the foreground and background, her figure is not fully integrated with her surroundings but exists in the intervening space of her environment and circumstance. As a result, Ramos's art extends beyond the autobiographical to bear the weight and vulnerability of the island and its people.