When Africans were brought as slaves to the New World, one of the traditions they brought was their religion.
In Cuba, this religious tradition is known as Santeria and it exists side by side with Catholicism. Each Sunday afternoon, Callejon de Hamel, a block-long shrine to Santeria located between Aramburu and Hospital Streets in Havana comes alive with rumba music and dancing.
Artist, Salvador Gonzalez, whose studio is located in the middle of the Callejon has been creating these artworks, sculptures and murals since the 1990s. Now the entire block is awash in vibrant colors.
Callejon de Hamel underscores the significance of Santeria to Cubans.
This doll was embedded in the ground near the entrance to Callejon de Hamel.
A friend who had met Salvador in Havana more than 10 years ago, gushed that I had to meet him. She didn’t know if he’s still be there 10 years later and I didn’t know that Callejon de Hamel was where his studio is located or that he was the artist behind the sculptures I was looking at. But something about the work made me think of him, so I asked and was shown his studio. He wasn’t there. But my friend, Lett and I, hung around admiring his paintings. Luckily, just as we were getting ready to leave, he showed up and graciously agreed to take this photo. Of course, I had to tell him about my friend who had spoken so glowingly about him.
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