Pintando Postales is a collection of paintings inspired by a postcard exchange between Katie Yamasaki’s New York City public school students and their counterparts in Santiago de Cuba.
Yamasaki asked her students in New York to create postcards for their peers in Cuba, describing themselves and the world they inhabit. She painted them in their world, combining their likeness with imagery from their own artwork, imaginations and developing identities as she has come to know them in many years as their art teacher.
The exhibition Tarjetas Postales de Nueva York opened in Santiago de Cuba in the spring of 2007. Over 250 Cuban youth participated in the project. Many came to the gallery to choose the New York City kid with whom they most closely identified.
The Cuban students created a response postcard describing themselves and what their lives are like in Cuba. Yamasaki, in turn, created corresponding paintings of the Cuban children, describing them and the world they inhabit.
The entire collection, which was displayed at Brooklyn College in the spring and summer of 2009, is a visual dialogue of words and paintings. The words are openhearted, unapologetic reflections on childhood, spoken with the clarity that children alone possess.
The paintings are an attempt to illustrate childhood and adolescence from the voice of the child, catching the moment in life where identity, imagination and expression are at once hugely important, and extremely fluid concepts.
Finally, the images are Katie’s attempt to consider what it means for children to grow freely – to articulate and realize who they are and how they wish for their lives to unfold. It is an exploration of what each society’s role and sincere interest is in providing true freedom for their children.