1947 -09-March 2010


An Exhibition of Gilded Prints by Susan Matthews


"Dancers and Deities of Afro-Cuba" appear in an exhibition of Susan Matthews' limited edition archival pigment prints  in the lobby gallery of the City of Berkeley building at 1947 Center Street.  The images reflect many years of Matthews' involvement with Afro Cuban music and folklore, both on the island of Cuba and in the Bay Area. The show can be seen during regular business hours. The building is wheel chair accessible.

Most of the works represent deities from "La Regla de Ocha", or "Santería", an Afro-Cuban religion that was brought from Africa to the Americas during the slave trade.  The attributes of Afro-Cuban deities are a combination of the forces of nature and human personality traits.  They can be identified by their colors and symbols.  For example, Ochun is the goddess of romantic love, but she is also the keeper of the rivers.  Her colors are yellow and gold, and she loves honey, jewelry, candy, money, and all things beautiful.  Chango is the deity of thunder and lightning, but also of male virility.  His colors are red and white.  He is the patron of all drummers.   

In Cuba, when a great dancer calls attention to a deity by dancing to her/his rhythms and songs, the presence of that deity becomes manifest. Excitement runs high and a shift of consciousness takes place in the crowd, be it at a ritual ceremony or a street performance.  At such times the gods and the ancestors seem to wander the earth and mingle with mortals once more. 

These prints are digital scans taken from large format paintings, mostly four by six foot canvases.  The prints are hand gilded with faux gold, silver and copper leaf, in keeping with the original paintings.

To see more artwork by Susan Matthews please see www.SusanMatthewsGallery.comThe exhibitions in the lobby gallery of 1947 Center Street are sponsored by the City of Berkeley Public Art Program in cooperation with the Civic Arts Commission. For information about this exhibition space please contact Mary Ann Merker, Civic Arts Coordinator, mmerker@ci.berkeley.ca.us, (510) 981-7533.