Professor's art exhibited as part of prestigious show in Havana

Contact: Mark Schwerin


KALAMAZOO—Patricia Villalobos Echeverría, Western Michigan University professor of art, was recently invited to create a site-specific art installation for the 11th Havana Biennial in Havana, Cuba.

The piece, "Cystema @ 23°8'27.054"N 82°21'10.117"W," consisted of hundreds of cell-like sculptural forms and a sound component that invaded the façade and interior of the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wilfredo Lam, located in Old Havana.

"As an artist, I am thrilled to have my work included within the context of the Biennial and to have the opportunity to dialogue with the Cuban public as well as international artists and critics that visit the Biennial during its run," Villalobos Echeverría says. "It took 12 days to install the work, which allowed me to be in direct contact with the public during the installation process, since the building is located in a central and busy area of Old Havana where hundreds walk by every day."

The title of the work is a hybrid of the word "cyst" and the Spanish word for "system" (sistema), followed by the site's coordinates. The sculptural forms seem to spread through the walls like a virus. The work references a systemic illness and speaks to relationships of power and dependence whether political, sexual or somatic. The sculptural forms teeter between being toy-like and toxic as they surreptitiously take over the building.

Patricia Villalobos Echeverría

Villalobos Echeverría earned a master's in printmaking and painting from West Virginia University and a bachelor's in printmaking and drawing from Louisiana State University. Before joining the WMU faculty, she was assistant chair of the art department and professor of art at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

She has participated in numerous national and international exhibitions, symposia, conferences and other events that engage various approaches to art making and explore how to better enable artists to think creatively within a changing, contemporary world. Among the many awards she has earned is the 2008 Distinguished Faculty Award for Creative Arts from IUP.

The Havana Biennial was on view from May 11 to June 11. Villalobos Echeverría will give a public lecture about her research for "Cystema @ 23°8'27.054"N 82°21'10.117"W" on Thursday, Nov. 15, at the Richmond Center for Visual Arts.