Celia Cruz & More Cuban Artists Featured in Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery

Billboard

Celia Cruz, Emilio & Gloria Estefan and more Cubans are among the artists featured in the newly acquired portrait series by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

Titled Cuba Out of Cuba, the limited-edition portraits by Alexis Rodríguez-Duarte in collaboration with Humberto "Tico" Torres is now part of the permanent collection of the iconic art museum in Washington, D.C.

Rodríguez-Duarte and Torres began the Cuba Out of Cuba portrait series in 1994 while commissioned for a shoot for Art & Antiques magazine featuring Cuban artists who lived in the United States.

The series includes an iconic photograph of the "Guantanamera" singer from their book Presenting Celia Cruz and another shot of her in a wardrobe fitting with designer Narciso Rodríguez before the Grammy Awards in 2003.

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"Celia's music and voice was always in the background as we were growing up so, to have her standing in front our our camera in her 'guarachera' dress singing 'Guantanamera' and 'Yo soy de Cuba la voz' was a dream come true. We were honored and privileged to have been able to photograph Celia for 12 years and had a book published of our images of her titled Presenting Celia Cruz," Rodríguez-Duarte tells Billboard exclusively. 

"For Latinos and Cubans specifically, Celia is a musical legend. For us Celia was the light. A beacon. She was a wonderful person with amazing energy. You knew you were in the presence of an extraordinary human being. And a voice that not only moved you but, shook the entire room! We're both very proud that we were able to introduce so many portraits of Cubans that our now represented in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. To have our work in our country's museum if a great honor."

For a preview of some images from the Cuba Out of Cuba series, click here.