Miami, Sept. 23, 2019MDC Special Collections at Miami Dade College (MDC) will present a fall season of programs that reflect on the Freedom Tower’s unique cultural heritage and its place in Miami’s history. The season includes the final weeks of the exhibition Glexis Novoa: The Cankama Sutta, a site-specific exhibition by the renowned Cuban American artist that traces an autobiographical and spiritual journey, on view in the Cuban Legacy Gallery until Sept. 29. The artist will join curator Gean Moreno for a conversation in the gallery on Thursday, Sept. 26, 7–9 p.m.  A new exhibition, Juana Valdes: Terrestrial Bodies, will feature large installations that map a connection between the history of trade and the displacement of various cultures and peoples, will be on view in the Cuban Legacy Gallery from Oct. 25, 2019–April 26, 2020. The artist will lead a tour of her exhibition on Oct. 24.

Also, this fall, the Exile Experience will launch Exile Today, a dynamic conversation series featuring renowned Cuban intellectuals and professionals from various disciplines, led by Cuban intellectual and author Carlos Alberto Montaner. The series will kick off with a discussion including some of Miami’s leading voices, including developer Jorge Perez, architect Raul Rodriguez and photojournalist Pedro Portal on Oct. 31. At the Kislak Center, the continuing exhibition Culture and Change in the Early Americas will be complemented by Deep Dive, an in-depth lecture series with curators and conservators who specialize in pre-Columbian objects, inaugurated with a lecture by conservator Viviana Dominguez on Oct. 3.

Housed at the National Historic Landmark Freedom Tower, MDC Special Collections celebrate the communities of South Florida and promote fresh perspectives on the ongoing processes of culture and change in the Americas.

Cuban Legacy Gallery

Glexis Novoa: The Cankama Sutta includes a graphite drawing rendered directly on the gallery’s walls. Picturing a strange landscape, it forms a travelogue or narrative that incorporates symbols of Novoa’s personal experiences as an immigrant, his life in Miami, and his travels around the world, as well as his interests in social and political history. The drawing makes reference to the site of the work itself, the Freedom Tower. The building has had a major impact on the artist and its history as a refugee center holds an important place in his heart and life, and those of many Cuban immigrants. In the exhibition, Novoa’s wall drawing engages in dialogue with a set of sculptures he produced in Havana during 2015, which represent other aspects of his voyage and moments of history that have recently transformed Cuban society. On view in the Cuban Legacy Gallery until September 29, the exhibition will conclude with Cankama Sutta: Glexis Novoa in Conversation with Gean Moreno on Sept. 26, a conversation between the artist and curator, who will discuss Novoa’s career and spiritual journey, reflecting on how his Buddhist practice has influenced his artistic development.

Born in Holguín, Cuba, Glexis Novoa received a B.A. from The National School of Art in Havana. His has worked in painting, performance, and installation, and has become internationally recognized for his site-specific graphite wall drawings. Since the late 1980s, his work has been widely exhibited in the United States and around the world, with solo exhibitions held at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana (2016); Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami (2006, 2015); Cheekwood Museum, Nashville (2008); Worcester Art Museum (2003); Locust Projects, Miami (2003); Miami Art Museum (2001); The Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame (2000); and Castillo de la Real Fuerza, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana (1989). Novoa lives and works in Miami and Havana. Gean Moreno is the Director of the Art + Research Center at ICA Miami. He is also part of the institution’s curatorial team and has worked on exhibitions dedicated to Hélio Oiticica, Terry Adkins, Larry Bell, Ettore Sottsass, and Paulo Nazareth. He was on the Advisory Board of the 2017 Whitney Biennial and serves as co-director of NAME Publications. He has contributed texts to various catalogues and publications, including e-flux journal, Kaleidoscope, and Art in America. This summer, Verso published In the Mind But Not From There: Real Abstraction and Contemporary Art, an anthology that Moreno edited.

In Terrestrial Bodies, artist Juana Valdes considers Ptolemy’s Geography, which inevitably revealed the earth was a spherical globe, rather than a flat surface. This discovery spawned hundreds of European expeditions, leading to the conquest and colonization of the Americas. Incorporating early cartographies and mass-produced collectible ceramic objects—sourced by Valdes from around the world—the exhibition expands two-dimensional works into large installations that reflect on issues of globalization, free markets, and labor production, while questioning the history of colonization. By placing found ceramic objects in dialogue with grid-like flat works, Valdes alludes to physical bodies being moved and displaced due to the explorations and discoveries of the New World. Juana Valdes: Terrestrial Bodies draws on the artist’s personal experience of migration as an Afro-Cuban American. On view in the Cuban Legacy Gallery from Oct. 25, 2019, to April 26, 2020, the exhibition will commence with an artist-led tour on Oct. 24.

Informed by her Afro-Cuban heritage and the experience of growing up in America, the art of Juana Valdes traces, recollects, and records her own personal experience of migration Throughout her career, Valdes has participated in a range of exhibitions and residencies, most recently at the European Keramic Work Center in the Netherlands (2012), the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (2009), the Artist Residency at the Center for Book Arts (2007), and the Smack Mellon Studio Program (2004). Past exhibitions include a solo show at SENSEI Gallery, New York, as part of the SENSEI Exchange Series Part 008: In the Fold (2013); the traveling exhibitions Multiplicity: Contemporary Ceramic Sculpture (2007–08); and Multiple, Limited, Unique: Selections from the Permanent Collection of the Center for Book Arts (2011–13).

Dedicated to the impact of Cuban culture on South Florida and throughout the world, the Cuban Legacy Gallery honors the Cuban exile experience. The gallery’s exhibitions by acclaimed contemporary artists of Cuban descent often explore history, identity, and exile through the lens of the Cuban American experience.  The Freedom Tower provides a most appropriate site for these memorable exhibitions because of its significant role as “El Refugio,” a welcoming place for the early Cuban exile community during the 1960s. Tens of thousands of Cubans passed through this building when the federal government used it as a center to process, document, and provide medical and social services for the new arrivals.

Exile Experience

The Exile Experience will present Exile Today, a series of interdisciplinary conversations with distinguished individuals from the realms of art, science, business, and entertainment that examine exile from contemporary perspectives. For the inaugural series, Exile Today: Conversations with Carlos Alberto Montaner, acclaimed author, speaker, and intellectual Carlos Alberto Montaner will moderate discussions that will investigate the Cuban experience in the United States.

The first rendition of Exile Today will kick off on Oct. 31 with “Miami, Becoming the Magic City,” focused on the transformation of the city of Miami. Moderated by Montaner, panelists include one of Miami’s most respected and prolific architects, Raúl Rodriguez, developer and CEO of The Related Group Jorge Perez, and photojournalist and Miami Herald correspondent Pedro Portal.

Jorge Pérez, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Related Group, remains committed to building a better South Florida, spearheading the area’s complex urban evolution for over 40 years. His natural ability to identify emerging trends makes him one of the most trusted and influential names in real estate, with a pipeline of more than 100,000 units. Starting his career in the public housing market of Miami in the 1970’s, Pérez’s unique passion for creating vibrant, urban communities has made him a trendsetter, often the first developer to enter emerging or undiscovered neighborhoods.

Over the years, Pérez and The Related Group have partnered with world-class names like David Rockwell and Yabu Pushelberg, producing neighborhood-defining projects and establishing Related’s developments as integral components of Miami’s evolving cityscape. A lover of art and an avid collector, Pérez also infuses each development with carefully curated collections, featuring pieces from master artists including Frank Stella, Jaume Plensa, Fabian Burgos, and others.

Deeply involved in supporting all facets of the community’s ongoing growth, Pérez established corporate and personal foundations dedicated to the advancement of an equitable, thriving South Florida. The Related Philanthropic Foundation, the charitable arm of The Related Group, fulfills the firm’s mission of fostering growth and success throughout Miami-Dade County.  Pérez, along with his family, also recently launched The Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation at The Miami Foundation, a charitable fund dedicated to a long-lasting philanthropic legacy, while promoting sustainable, inclusive and just communities. Read more here.

Carlos Alberto Montaner was born in Havana, Cuba, and lives between Spain and the United States. He is a writer and journalist. He has published some 30 books of essays and narratives. The essays include Latin American and Western Culture, Freedom and its enemies, and Manual of the perfect Latin American Idiot, published together with Álvaro Vargas Llosa and Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza. His three latest novels are The Colonel’s Wife, Once Again Goodbye and Time for Scoundrels. For many years, he has published a weekly syndicated column in various newspapers in Spain, Latin America and the United States. Montaner makes two weekly radio contributions from different countries and is a CNN en Español analyst.  Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the 50 most influential writers in Spanish. He was VP of Liberal International for twenty years. Today, he is one of their patrons. Throughout his career, Montaner has received numerous awards, including the Madrid Tolerance Prize, a Doctor Honoris Causa from the Francisco Marroquín University, the Juan de Mariana Prize, among others. This year, his memoirs, Without Going Any Further, will be published by Penguin-Random House.

The Exile Experience presents interdisciplinary lectures and displays that explore the diverse experiences of exiled communities. The Exile Experience considers forced displacements, diasporic movements, memory, and cultural identity to highlight the remarkable role the exile community continues to play in the development of Miami. The Exile Experience features A Journey to Freedom, a permanent exhibition of photographic images that illustrate the struggles endured by the Cuban exile population.

Kislak Center

The Kislak Center will present Deep Dive, a series of scholarly lectures, panel discussions, and interactive presentations focused on single topics relevant to the history of the early Americas and the conservation of primary source materials. Rather than giving a broad overview of a long historical period, overarching paradigm, or conglomerate of multiple national or regional histories, Deep Dive provides a thorough examination and close reading of particular phenomena that have far-reaching implications. Participants and programming will come from a consortium formed among MDC, the University of Miami, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Library of Congress, with the intention of strengthening the relationship between the stewards of objects donated by the Kislak Foundation. Inaugurating the discussion series on October 3, conservator Viviana Dominguez will share key preservation insights related to these important cultural objects.

Viviana Dominguez is a fine arts conservator specializing in murals, paintings, works of art on paper, and historic finishes. She has more than twenty-five years of experience in the field, has preserved prominent private and public art collections, and has performed work for the Smithsonian Institution and the J. Paul Getty Conservation Institute, among other institutions. Dominguez actively seeks to promote preservation through both hands-on projects and education. She was responsible for the recovery of part of the interior of the Lyndon B. Johnson’s Summer White House in Texas. She serves as an acting team member of The American Institute of Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works-National Heritage Responders, which responds to the needs of cultural institutions during emergencies and disasters.

The Kislak Center gallery exhibits rare objects from the Jay I. Kislak collection. Donated to Miami Dade College in 2018 the Kislak Center includes some of the most significant original source materials related to the history of the early Americas and is one of the most important collections of its kind in the United States.  It includes rare books, maps, manuscripts, pre-Columbian artifacts, and other historical materials that offer new perspectives on the events and personalities that helped shape the modern world. The gallery, a permanent 2,600-square-foot exhibition space, on the first floor of the Freedom Tower, presents the ongoing inaugural exhibition, Culture and Change in the Early Americas.  Curated by the nationally recognized art historian Dr. Carol Damian and Arthur Dunkelman, Curator of the Jay I. Kislak Collection at the University of Miami, it will present a multidimensional view of the history of the Western Hemisphere, beginning with early Native American cultures and extending to modern times. Through the lens of history, visitors can glimpse the process of cultural change and adaptation that continues to the present day


WHAT:              MDC Special Collections fall 2019 exhibitions and public programs


WHEN:             Glexis Novoa: The Cankama Sutta, Through September 29, 2019

  • Thursday, Sept. 26, 7–9 p.m., conversation with Glexis Novoa and Gean Moreno

Juana Valdes: Terrestrial Bodies, Oct. 25, 2019–April 26, 2020

  • Thursday, Oct. 24, 6- 9 p.m., exhibition opening reception and artist-led tour with Juana Valdes

Exile Today: Conversations with Carlos Alberto Montaner

  • 31, 7– 9 p.m., Miami: Becoming the Magic City, panel discussion with Carlos Alberto Montaner, Jorge Perez, Raul Rodriguez and Pedro Portal.

Culture and Change in the Early Americas (ongoing exhibition)

  • Thursday, Oct. 3, 7–8 p.m., Deep Dive: Viviana Dominguez


WHERE:           MDC Special Collections (Cuban Legacy Gallery, Exile Experience, Kislak Center)

Freedom Tower

600 Biscayne Boulevard, First Floor


Museum Hours: Wednesday 1–6 p.m.; Thursday 1–8 p.m.; Friday–Sunday 1– 6 p.m.

Museum admission: $12 adults; $8 seniors and military; $5 students (13–17) and college students (with valid ID); free for MOAD members, MDC students, faculty, and staff, and children 12 and under.  Accessibility challenges: please call (305) 237-7710 for details.

For updates and a full schedule of events, please visit

Press Contacts: Nicole Martinez, Marketing and Membership Manager: 305-237-7719,; JWI PR—Jessica Wade Pfeffer: 305-804-8424,; or Juliana Gutierrez: 305-991-4259,