”Boat people, that’s what many immigrants are considered. I was one of them, a refugee. I understand that welcoming strangers can be dangerous. Throughout history, many countries have sent their best, as well as their worst, to the United States. Irish gangs and the Italian Mafia, among many other criminal groups, flourished here soon after their arrival.”
”We have always lived with the dangers of accepting foreigners, and we have always dealt with them, knowing that those are the risks a country must assume if it is to be a beacon to the entire world.”
Artist Edel Rodriguez was born in Havana in 1971. He has created award-winning film and theatre posters, book covers, and he is a children’s book writer/illustrator.
In 1980, Rodriguez emigrated to the USA as one of the thousands of Cubans who took part in the Mariel Boatlift. His family of four arrived in Key West, but the Cuban government had taken possession of the family’s home, car, furniture and even clothes, so the Rodriguez family had little to start a new life with. They moved in with relatives in Miami, where Rodriguez’s father started a trucking business. Within a couple of years of arriving in the USA, Rodriguez had mastered the language, even becoming a national spelling bee champion.
For a 2015 issue of Newsweek Magazine, Rodriguez created the cover image, portraying a woman with her skirt being lifted by a computer cursor. Rodriguez defended the work, noting:
“…it’s not sexist, it depicts the ugliness of sexism“.
He has done a dozen magazine covers, including The New Yorker, Time, and Rolling Stone; the most infamous was the February 4, 2017 issue of Der Spiegel, with its iconic image depicting the president holding the Statue of Liberty’s severed head in one hand and a knife in the other, with the cover title America First.
The outspoken Rodriguez knows that art speaks volumes. According to him, images have the power words do not regardless of education-level, background, or language of the viewer:
”People can avoid text, stories, but an image, you can’t avoid it. You see an image for maybe half a second and it becomes ingrained in people’s minds.”
Rodriguez has stated that he is aware that he can’t change opinions, but he hopes to prove that there is no reason for people to feel like they can’t express theirs.
”I don’t make political art. I make art that magnifies the truth.”
His work is exhibited in galleries around our pretty planet. He lives and works in NYC.
”My main job as an illustrator is to get people to talk, have a conversation and to pay attention to the topic and the world around you.”