Connecticut State University Professor of Art Imna Arroyo has published the book, "La Sagrada Familia" (The Sacred Family). The book was introduced at the Museo Casa Africa in Havana, Cuba, in July. Arroyo is an artist whose work incorporates mixed media and installation art to explore her Afro-Caribbean spiritual traditions.
"The Sacred Family" is a limited edition that features 32 hand-crafted linoleum prints by Arroyo, dedicated to the Orishas and Deities of the Yoruba Pantheon. The print edition was printed by Ramon Vargas Artiz at the El Templo Studio in Santiago de la Vegas, Cuba, and by Arroyo at her studio in Willimantic. The images are accompanied by descriptions and praises written by Isis Mattei, Arroyo's daughter. James Nicholas Winner-Arroyo, the artist's son, designed the book. Arroyo's son and daughter are both Eastern alumni.
Arroyo, a Black Puerto Rican and the descendant of enslaved indigenous and African peoples, said the seeds for "La Sagrada Familia" were sown in 1997, when she traveled to Ghana, West Africa and stepped into the dungeons of the Elmina Castle, a primary port in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. "I was standing at the 'door of no return,' the last portal through which enslaved Africans passed before their shipment to the Americas," she said.
"A shiver ran through my core. I realized that my spirit had returned to the scene of untold atrocities and I felt, without a doubt, a spiritual connection to my ancestors. It is my intent to create art that is a kind of medicine used to heal the deep-seated collective wounds of history, and to celebrate the vibrancy and relevance of the legacy of those who came before me."
The book, translated into Spanish by art critic Yuneikys Villalonga, is in the permanent collection of the Museum Casa Africa of the Office of the Historian of Habana, Cuba. Arroyo will present the Sacred Family at the National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana, Cuba, in April 2014, during Antonio Martorell's retrospective exhibition, where she will also be presenting a children's book and printmaking workshop. In addition, Arroyo will present the book at Casa de las Americas, which has the most important collection of Caribbean art in Latin America.