The Mariposas of
AS many people are learning, Antonio
Guerrero, one of the five Cuban anti-terrorists
incarcerated in the United States, has emerged as a
proficient painter during his lengthy confinement in
prison in Florence, Colorado.
Like his four brothers in cause, he
has made his time productive and through the medium
of his art he has become an active contributor to
the struggle towards their freedom.
Antonio has mastered a variety of
painting techniques that has drawn considerable
attention in the many exhibits of his work shown in
countries around the world. His exhibit "Desde mi
Altura" (From my Altitude) has been touring cities
across the United States for the past two years.
Antonio collaborated with U.S.
photographer Bill Hackwell in 2008 to produce an
exhibit of portraits of activists in the struggle
for the freedom of the Cuban 5 entitled "Bridge of
Solidarity," which traveled for over a year to every
major city in Cuba. One of Antonio's most
significant projects was his paintings of "Birds of
the Americas," completed for Cuba’s Natural History
In 2009, when Antonio was painting "Birds
of the Americas," the director of the National
Museum, Dr. Reinaldo Rojas proposed that he should
paint the endemic butterflies of Cuba and that was
how the project began.
After determining that there were 27
different species of endemic butterflies of Cuba,
two of them extinct, the problem was to find the
images for Antonio so he could paint each one of
them. To obtain the images, it was decided to
photograph the 25 butterflies that were preserved in
the Cuban Ecology Institute. Jorge Fontenla, a
specialist and biologist at the Natural History
Museum, was the adviser and coordinator of the
Liborio Nodal, an outstanding Cuban
photographer, offered to go to the museum to
photograph the collection, and thus provide Antonio
with detailed images to paint from.
This was not the first time Antonio
and Liborio had collaborated on a project. Last year
a joint exhibit of their work was displayed in
Antonio started painting the endemic
butterflies of Cuba in early March this year and
continued virtually without interruption until he
finished the last one on June 11. The technique he
used for the project was water color.
Upon completion of this series he
commented, "I almost felt like I was in a dream, and
yes, for me it is a dream come true. I hope all this
work will be displayed to help our National Museum
in its important mission of letting our people know
about and be aware of our natural history, so
closely linked today to the revolutionary work that
zealously guards our flora and fauna."
International Committee for the
Freedom of the Cuban 5
THE BUTTERFLY THAT I AM PAINTING
Some have white spots,
Others, black strips…
The butterfly which I am painting
Is fluttering in my chest.
I look at it, it moves its wings;
It looks at me, laughs, and I am happy
When it alights gently
on the flower that I carry within.
Like a sigh of love
it leaps from the open calyx
and with its divine grace
gives colors to the sky.
Spring without gardens
under prison clouds,
but butterflies fly
in watercolors and in verses.
June 21, 2011
Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez