Miami Dade College’s Museum of Art + Design Presents the inaugural Exhibition at the new Cultural Legacy Gallery, Cuba Out of Cuba: Through the Lens of Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte in Collaboration with Tico Torres MOAD - Cuban Diaspora Celia L Credit: Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte in collaboration with Tico Torres Miami, July 28, 2014 - The Museum of Art + Design (MOAD) at Miami Dade College (MDC) presents Cuba Out of Cuba: Through the Lens of Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte in Collaboration with Tico Torres. The inaugural exhibition will open to the public at 6 p.m. Friday, September 19, at the new Cultural Legacy Gallery, a permanent space dedicated to the impact of Cuban culture on South Florida and throughout the world, housed at the National Historic Landmark Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College in Downtown Miami. Cuba Out of Cuba: Through the lens of Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte in collaboration with Tico Torres features what have become iconic photographs of Cuban figures living outside the island, among them performers, composers, designers, writers and artists. The Cuba Out of Cuba series was shot over the last twenty years in Miami, New York, London, Paris, Florence, Venice and Los Angeles. The exhibition will take a unique and historical approach in surveying the legacies of individuals such as Celia Cruz, Bebo Valdez, Gloria Estefan, Cristina Saralegui, Andy Garcia, Cundo Bermudez, Nilo Cruz, and Paquito d’Rivera, among other Cubans who have influenced the greater culture of their time. Alexis Rodríguez-Duarte was born in Havana, Cuba. In 1968 he and his parents were among Cuban exiles who left the Island aboard the humanitarian air lifts called the Freedom Flights. Once arriving to Miami, his family and many thousands of other Cuban exiles came through the doors of the Freedom Tower that served as a processing and assistance center for the exile community. For many, the tower provided nothing less than their freedom from Castro and the hardships Cuba had come to give them, rightly earning its name of the Freedom Tower. Rodriguez–Duarte’s family settled in Miami’s Little Havana community. At the age of 10, he was given his first camera by his grandfather, which led to his love affair with photography. Today, he is a New York and Miami-based internationally renowned photographer whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Town & Country, and Harper’s Bazaar, among other major publications, and has exhibited his work at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., Museum of the City of New York, The Victoria and Albert Museum in London and The Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach among others. Rodriguez-Duarte and his husband of 31 years, Tico Torres, have been documenting the Cuban diaspora since 1993. Torres, a photo stylist who is a master of the mise-en-scene, helped create with Rodriguez-Duarte the joyous image of Celia Cruz standing amid the towering palms of Fairchild Tropical Garden in a traditional ruffled Cuban gown. He was also there to set the mood in the London flat of Guillermo Cabrera Infante, one of Cuba’s most famous authors. Torres and his family were also among Cuban exiles who settled in Miami’s Hialeah community. Rodriguez-Duarte and Torres are thrilled to be returning together, full circle to the historic Freedom Tower for this inaugural exhibit, after separately setting foot there as immigrant children so many years before. The inaugural exhibition kicks off the Museum’s fall season scheduled for Friday, September 19, 2014 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. in conjunction with SIDE BY SIDE: MDCULTURE STANDS AS ONE, a one night event held at the College’s historic Freedom Tower, featuring performances, exhibitions, film screenings, the public unveiling of 2014 Book Fair Poster, and the long awaited Cuban Exile Experience at the Freedom Tower. Cuba Out of Cuba: Through the Lens of Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte in Collaboration with Tico Torres will remain on display at the museum through August 30, 2015. All exhibitions are free and open to the public. MDC’s Freedom Tower was operated by the U.S. Government as a reception center for Cuban refugees from 1962 to 1974. “The building is significant because it represents the important story of the Cuban exodus to America and resettlement during the Cold War,” reports the U.S. Department of the Interior, which has also called the Freedom Tower the “Ellis Island of the South.” Though it operated in that capacity for only 12 years, the building has become an icon representing the faith that democracy brought to troubled lives, the generosity of the American people and a hopeful beginning that assured thousands a new life in a new land. WHAT: Cuba Out of Cuba: Through the Lens of Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte in Collaboration with Tico Torres WHEN: Friday, September 19 –Opening Reception from 6 – 9 p.m. September 19, 2014 – August 30, 2015 Museum Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. WHERE: MDC Museum of Art + Design Cultural Legacy Gallery The Freedom Tower at MDC, First Floor 600 Biscayne Blvd. About MDC Museum of Art + Design MDC Museum of Art + Design (MOAD) is Miami Dade College’s flagship institution dedicated to the presentation and exhibition of visual art and design, housed at the National Historic Landmark Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College in Downtown Miami. The mission of the Museum is to promote the appreciation and understanding of art and its role in society through direct engagement with original works of art from within the College’s extensive permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. Furthermore, the Museum presents year-round lectures, symposiums and art related events to expose, educate and engage the greater public through related creative processes. The MDC Museum of Art + Design provides its patrons and visitors access to unique cultural, historical and educational exhibitions that enrich the greater community while building and preserving an expansive permanent art collection. Miami Dade College has been collecting art since the 1960s. Over the years, the collection has grown contain more than 1,600 works in all mediums and genres, specifically within the movements of minimalism, pop art of the ’60s and ’70s, conceptual art and contemporary Latin American art. The College and Museum actively acquire works by emerging and under-recognized artists, as well as major figures in modern, post-modern and contemporary art. About The Cuban Exile Experience & Cultural Legacy Gallery The Cuban Exile Experience & Cultural Legacy Gallery is a historical division of the MDC Museum of Art + Design. In addition to visual arts, the Museum supports exhibitions and programs that collect, preserve, research and interpret stories and artifacts that help build a better community understanding and appreciation of the Freedom Tower’s history. For more information about the exhibition, events or VIP Opening Reception at MDC Museum of Art + Design, please contact the Museum at 305-237-7722 or Event contacts: Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director Tere Estorino Florin, 305-237-3949,, MDC media relations director Roxana Romero, 305-237-3366,, media specialist Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, media specialist Alejandro Rios, 305-237-7482,

Maria Elena Josefina Juarez Padron

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Maria Elena Josefina's Story

I was born in Havana and attended El Verbo Encarnado until 2nd grade then transferred to the American Dominican Academy. I lived with my mother and grandmother in El Vedado. Among my friends were Maggie and Alina Alayon, Nelson Fonseca, Elenita Menendez, Millie Garcia, Alicia Darias, Margarita, Lalita, Olga, Esther, Mercy, Juan, Lazaro and so many others. I came by myself on February 2, 1961, when I was 12, and was sent to Kendall. After a month, I was placed in a foster home (Yoder family) in Albuquerque, NM. A boy named Manolito was on the flight with me and went to live with another family in NM. In Albuquerque, I went to Catholic school with all American kids as I recall, but I met other Pedro Pan kids in the neighborhood. Across the street from me were brother and sister Piri and Natasha, who lived with the Wagners. Piri tried to teach me how to burp, something I still have not been able to master! I also remember a girl named Teresita, and a very young boy named Juan. After seven months my mother arrived in Miami and sent for me. We lived in Coral Gables for a year and I went to 8th grade at Shenandoah Junior High School (now a middle school). We then moved up north to Jersey City, NJ in 1962. I graduated from William L. Dickinson High School, then moved to New York City where I went to school, and to work, mostly in publishing. I moved to NC in 1996. Though we were treated well, I think I was in shock the entire month I lived at Kendall. I remember the woods behind the main house, and many snakes. The months in foster care were very unhappy ones for me, though I know others had wonderful experiences. I enjoyed all my years in the New York/New Jersey area, but it never felt a right fit for me. I was 44 years old (am now 60) before the dam of my memories burst and I began to attempt to reconnect with my past and my heritage. That in part led to my move to the Asheville area of North Carolina where I now live. It feels like home, and two years ago, my partner and I built a lovely house in these beautiful mountains. I would love to connect with other Pedro Pans that I knew in Cuba, that remember me from Kendall, or whom I met in Albuquerque. My family is gone. Please, if I am someone you knew or think you knew, let me hear from you. Thanks so much to everyone who is making this opportunity possible.

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Are there any pictures of the school?

Message by Maria Graham | Dec 14th 2013

María Elena, we just updated your email address per your request. Take care.

Message by Pedro Pan Administrator | Sep 19th 2012

Maria Elena, yo vivo en Asheville, NC. Me gustaria verte. Yo tambien fui a la American Dominican Academy en la Habana. Vicky Blanche

Message by Vicky Blanche | Sep 14th 2012

Hi again! I hope that you reach out to us and can join our group. We need your friendship, life experiences and your presence, either in person or via Skype. Ciao, Maria Julia

Message by Maria Julia Caravia Fusselman | Sep 13th 2012

Maria Elena: Te vuelvo a escribir porque te extrañamos y va a tener lugar una reunión en Miami Beach con Ana Rosa Arteaga Tavio, Ileana Fuentes, Margarita Rosa Herrera, Alicia Beatriz Darías, Mirtha Garcia Regueiro, María Del Rosario González, María Elena Arregui, Meche Alonso y tu servidora , María Julia Caravia. Será el 29 o 30 de este mes. Embullate y ve que nos hace falta tu presencia. Por favor escribeme o Llamame !!!!! Maria Julia / 509-307-7896. Tambien estoy en Facebook con mi apellido de casada, María Fusselman en Yakima, WA

Message by Maria Julia Caravia de Fusselman | Sep 9th 2012

Maria Elena Josefina has updated their profile.

Status update | Aug 20th 2012

Dear Maria Elena. I'm Margarita Rosa Herrera and I still have the picture of yourself that you gave me in January 1960. I have never forgotten you and have such fond memories of your mother and grandmother. I would love to get together with you. After we left Cuba in November 1960 my mother and I settled in NYC. My father chose to stay in Cuba and remarried. I still live in NY State, but recently retired and bought a second home in Delray, Fl. I'm married and have three children. After I retired I, like you, decided to reconnect with my past. I'm so glad I came across your blog. My e-mail My phone number is (914)953-3469.

Message by Margaret Herrera | Aug 12th 2012

maria elena i'm Annie Arteaga Slatkoff and live in we had a reunion with maria julia, mirta garcia, ileana fuentes, martha figuerola and we were talking about classmates from Havana and you were mentioned...hope you reply to my email...cuidate mucho...

Message by Annie Slatkoff | May 6th 2012

Alicia Darias is an Alternate Municipal Court Judge in Las Vegas, NV. She was my neighbor in Calle 6 entre 17 y 19 in El Vedado. Last time I saw her was about 7-8 years ago but she was doing well.

Message by Marlo Baker (nee Loly Rivero) | Oct 10th 2011

Maria E. Estoy coordinando una reunion 50 anos en Albuquerque NM en Mayo 18-19-20 2012, ya tenemos anotados 94 participantes. Si estas interesada escribeme a Puse tambien tu nombre en mi lista de PPanas de ABQ y PPans de ABQ uh abrazo Ernesto Perez-Bermudez

Message by Ernesto A Perez Bermudez | May 30th 2011

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