Humberto Díaz

Humberto Díaz
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Humberto Díaz

I was born in June 1975 in Cienfuegos, a province in central Cuba, and then very soon my family moved to Santa Clara, a city with a vibrant cultural life. I dare say that I owe to my friends that I became an artist. Nobody in my family was involved in the arts: my mom was a math teacher and my dad was a mechanic, so I happened to be the only dreamer and the crazy man of the family.

As a child, I was thrilled to play with the tools of my late maternal grandfather, a carpenter and cabinetmaker, and to watch my mother doing her sewing on the old Singer sewing machine. That and drawing robots, motorcycles and cars all over my class notebooks were my favourite pastimes.…When I was nine I attended a metal casting workshop for children. I still remember the process of making the box moulds with refractory sand, the red-hot liquid metal coming out of the furnace and the magic of later seeing metal figures of horses and heroes.

I came to art education almost by accident: Miguel Valdivia (Miguelito), my primary school friend, was going to take the probation test at the EVA (Escuela Vocacional de Arte/ Vocational School of Art) and invited me to go with him because there was a vacant seat in his father's car. I remember all the other kids with folders full of still lives, and I only had the robot drawings in my notebooks. There I drew a coffee pot and a vase of flowers, made a painting on cardboard and touched a piece of clay for the first time... They chose only thirty kids out of 270 who took the test, I was the 29th. My mom received the admittance letter from the school a few months later and in the meanwhile I had never told her about that day. That's how I entered the Vocational School of Art where I discovered a whole world that I am still passionate about.

Even so, there have been moments of doubts in my life ... When transfering from the secondary school to the pre-university, I had to choose between studying mathematics (which was my mom’s dream) or going for arts a dream of mine. In a сhat with my friend Rafael Abdala about that dilemma, he told me with a smile: I can not imagine you in a suit and tie as the scientist Humberto Díaz, I’d rather see Humbertico, an artist with his crazy ideas. That small conversation helped me make the huge decision to follow my dream and continue the path of arts studying ceramics at the Professional School of Art in Trinidad.

When I graduated from Trinidad I was already an artist, but studying at the Higher Institute of Art (ISA) sounded to me as an unattainable dream which I didn't feel I could ever achieve. Yet again, another friend, Wilfredo Prieto, kept insisting for several years that I should do it, so that one day I gave up and went to Havana to take the entrance exams. Five years later I was the ISA graduate with a degree in sculpture.

Good advice from friends and a chain of events have kept my life inevitably linked to arts... as if it were destiny. Being an artist is what I was meant to be. I am very excited about every choice I have made, because pursuing art and living a creative life make me feel like the happiest and luckiest person in the world.

I have always been fascinated by the three-dimensional and object-oriented art practices. First with ceramics in Trinidad, and later, when I entered the ISA, where I expanded my research to other artistic media such as installation, performance, sculpture, site specific and video art.

Tsunami is a good example of an art object where the influence of my research on industrial ceramics has taken perfect shape in the installation. Likewise, in my work you can appreciate that interest in the tools and manufactured objects and my desire to show the materials in their pure state.

contemporary art
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