I remember growing up in Cuba and staring into the ocean, watching the waves become so uniform yet unique in that they were never the same exact color. They were always a beautiful teal that would turn into greens and different hues of blue. They were always so calming to look at. At times, the sky would turn into the most gorgeous grey and charcoal, followed by an intense rain and thunder. When the rain would leave, we would often see a rainbow of multiple colors. The natural colors of Cuba are some of the most saturated, beautiful tones you can see in nature.
Image of ocean from Cuba. (Taschen, 2004).
Throughout the last year, I revisited the art of silk painting as a way to bring voice to my experiences growing up in Cuba. My career as a designer began with silk painting and painting was one of the first pursuits I used to express myself as an artist.
The colors I grew up with in Cuba served as a foundation for the palette of the silk painting I did throughout last year. I revisited colors of nature from Cuba but also the colors from the streets of Havana, which amidst the decaying architecture and vintage automobiles is a palette of life so rich and intense.
Select images from Havana. (Taschen, 2004).
While some blocks have been collected by private individuals, some of my silk painted blocks have been used to create a micro-cruise collection for the studio's Cruise15/16 season.
One of the handprinted silk scarfs included in the studio's Cruise15/16 collection.
Other blocks have been incorporated into our menswear brand, Telos New York, a collaboration between myself and another artist. Telos New York has steadily grown a global following of art collectors and fashionistas since our introduction last November.
Telos New York is an artistic collaboration offering hand painted silk neckwear.
By turning to my own experiences growing up, focusing on a different art form from making dresses, I have come to realize that by returning to silk painting I stumbled upon the secret to doing well as a creative individual: authenticity. Ultimately, whether or not someone purchases your work or commends it, you have to stay committed to yourself. Your ability to tell your own story, the one unique thing we all have in this world, is what will keep you motivated and lead you in the right direction.
There is a freedom of creating unique prints by hand. Moreover, there is an authenticity that only the human eye and hand can offer. The mistakes, the indications of hand appliqué, all of it create something that embodies a inner desire for creative expression. Many beautiful unexpected gifts follow when you focus on being yourself and remain true to your story. Sometimes you do need to revisit your journey and realize you already had it right from the beginning.
The images of Cuba in this post can be found in Havana Style, a Taschen book, authored by Christiane Reiter, edited by Angelika Taschen, and photos by Gianni Basso/Vega MG.