About Binding Communities

Binding Communities:
Cuba’s Ediciones Vigía and the Art of the Book and Entrepreneurism

March 14, 2017 – April 19, 2017

A free, public exhibit on display in Ottenheimer Library celebrates artistry, ingenuity, and the power of the book. “Binding Communities” consists of 71 artists’ books from the handmade collective Ediciones Vigía of Matanzas, Cuba, under the artistic direction of Rolando Estévez.

The artists’ books are primarily composed of butcher paper, paperboard, and white paper. The artworks entail mixed media elements (commonly string, as well as other found objects) on their covers. They range in size from approximately 9.5” x 6” to 12” x 9.5” and date from 1985-2016. Books are either in the form of a traditional book or parchment that is contained in outside binding or boxes.

History and Context

Ediciones Vigía (“Lighthouse Editions”) of Matanzas, Cuba, came of age during the so-called Cuban Special Period, a time of economic depression following the 1989 collapse of the Soviet Union. Throughout the 1990s, an extreme shortage of paper and materials – not to mention food, petroleum, medicine, and other basic resources – contributed to difficulties in publishing in Cuba. Vigía responded by seeking out diverse, talented young authors to publish in limited edition artists’ books (each printing is limited to 200 copies). Community members from Matanzas would gather together to assemble these books out of found materials, such as cardboard and fabric scraps, and butcher paper, which was less expensive and more available than bleached white paper. These precious books have quickly earned an artistic cachet that carries prestige for its authors and captivates international scholars and collectors.

Further Research

Thank you to

  • UA Little Rock Galleries
  • Provost’s Office
  • Department of World Languages
  • Collections and Archives
  • Ottenheimer Library
  • College of Arts, Letters and Sciences
  • Department of Art
  • Office of Communications
  • Dr. Kristin Mann
  • Student Affairs