CubaSeen Creative Retreat in Havana

Trip Summary

This immersive program provides time and space to focus on your creative process, inspired by the culture of Havana’s thriving arts scene.

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Dates

May 4 – 13, 2025

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Group Size

10 People

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Activity Level

Moderate, some walking with stairs.

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Price

$5,600 (shared room)

Trip Details

Embark on a Creative Journey

Have you ever dreamed of spending an extended period of time in Cuba simply making art surrounded by a group of like-minded individuals? Do you have a photo or art project that lurks in idea form but requires time and feedback to advance?

Welcome! This is just the opportunity to fulfill your dream. Join us in a journey of creative self-discovery.

Photographer on dock in Cuba by Jennifer Spelman

© Jennifer Spelman

Photo essay by Carlos Otero Blanco in CubaSeen

© Carlos Otero Blanco

Making Art That Resonates

Delve deeper into your vision, drawing from the rich tapestry of Cuban culture and its layered art influences. As you disconnect from the everday, we guide you to sharpen your craft inspired by the city’s pulsating arts scene. Let Havana be your spark towards a completed project, full of meaning and ready to be shared.

Connect on a Deeper Level

Forge connections with fellow creatives who share your thirst for exploration and expression. Engage with Cuban artists and become part of their community, celebrating the power of visual storytelling influenced by this immersive intercultural experience.

Artists critiquing a portfolio in Cuba. Photo by Jennifer spelman

© Jennifer Spelman

Artist at work in Cuba by Jennifer Spelman

© Jennifer Spelman

A Unique Retreat

Limit your distractions and expand your potential. Under the mentorship of Jennifer Spelman and Andrew Child, co-publishers of CubaSeen, you’ll be nurtured in evolving your artistic process and current project.

A Venue Steeped in Elegance and History

Our creative sanctuary is a boutique hostel nestled in the serene neighborhood of Vedado. This 20th-century mansion, reborn with comfort and charm, offers a communal central space perfect for collaboration, reflection, and shared meals.

Calis Havana

© Jennifer Spelman

Curated Critiques and Cultural Immersion

Our retreat is enriched with structured critiques from Cuban art luminaries, including Nelson Ramírez de Arellano, Director of the Wifredo Lam Contemporary Art Center and Havana Art Biennial. Our very own Carlos Otero provides astute feedback on editing and refining the voice within a project. Studio visits and gallery tours are a backdrop for cultural exchange, while a master printer joins the group for a session on fine-art printmaking techniques. All is in preparation for the grand finale—a group exhibition featuring your work, opening in one of Havana’s storied art galleries.

Creativity Awaits

Seize this chance to travel legally to Cuba, where your creativity can flourish. Embrace an unparalleled opportunity to reflect and create. It will be a week of profound creativity and community.

Viewing a fine art print in Cuba by Jennifer Spelman

© Jennifer Spelman

Itinerary Highlights

  • Interact with Cuban artists in a unique people-to-people educational program..
  • Participate in field trips designed to immerse you in everyday Cuban life and extraordinary Cuban art.
  • Learn from Havana’s top Curators during visits to studios and galleries.
  • Embrace the island’s creative spirit with visits and lectures inside Fábrica de Arte and Fototeca de Cuba.
  • Experience valuable guidance and in-depth project feedback from Andrew and Jennifer.
  • Meet individually with Nelson and Carlos for their insightful critique of your work.
  • Participate with your colleagues and selected Cuban artists in a curated group exhibition in Havana.
  • Enjoy the time and space you long have craved to advance the project that calls to you.
Fototeca de Cuba in Havana, Cuba

Travel to Cuba Legally

This trip allows US citizens to travel legally to Cuba under the People-to-People General License for educational exchanges (Title 31 CFR § 515.560). We focus on authentic connections and meaningful interactions, capturing the spirit of the Cuban people through our lenses.

Publish Your Project

Join the community of visual artists who share their work between (and on) the covers of CubaSeen, our zine showcasing art about Cuba. As a participant on this trip you may submit images for our next issue free of charge.

Your Instructors

Jennifer Spelman

Jennifer Spelman

Trip Leader | Co-Founder

Jennifer Spelman is a documentary photographer, educator and workshop leader based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has worked extensively across Cuba since 2011.

During over sixty visits to the island, she’s experienced the friendly generosity of a people always willing to share conversation and a cup of coffee. She has come to understand that to be Cuban is to greet adversity with ingenuity, patience and humor. Life in Cuba is lived on the streets, and Jennifer is happiest amidst their constant motion and layered serendipity.

She co-founded OneWorldSeen in 2021 and co-publishes its photo zine, CubaSeen.

Jennifer is a patient educator who has co-instructed with Santa Fe Workshops and National Geographic Expeditions. Among her many other photography-related endeavors, she has traveled extensively, teaching workshops in Turkey, Morocco, India, Romania, Spain, Mexico, Japan, India, and Cuba.

Website: jenniferspelman.com

Andrew Child

Andrew Child

Instructor | Co-Founder

Andrew Child is an author and photographer based in suburban Boston. He considers Cuba to be the land of his creative nexus and has been photographing on the island since 2013.

Andrew’s first photo book, Havana: Light Beyond Vision, explores the Caribbean metropolis through his unique niche of color, infrared panoramic photography. He co-founded OneWorldSeen in 2021 and co-publishes its zine CubaSeen.

As an instructor, Andrew adapts the field of design-thinking to the creative process, teaching arists how to refine and edit their body of work to best communicate intent and meaning to their audience.

Andrew brings self-effacing humor, web expertise, and project management experience to his operations and technology role and serves as the main point-of-contact in the US while workshops are underway in Cuba.

Website: andrewchild.com

Carlos Otero Blanco

Carlos Otero Blanco

Partner | Resident Cuban Expert & Guide

Carlos Otero Blanco is a dynamic photographer who specializes in inventive conceptual projects and creative underwater photography. His wide range of thematic interests spans documentary photography, portraiture, and nature.

Carlos may be best known for his sensitive photographic study of Cuban bedrooms, with hundreds photographed since 2009. The exquisite images were published in his book, Dormir con… (To Sleep with…), co-authored with Enrique Rottenberg, which has been shown in several national and international exhibits, and was featured in The New York Times, among other publications.

Born and raised in Havana, Carlos knows Cuba He has explored its rivers, its shorelines, its cities and villages, its mountains, its farmland and, most intimately, its people. His many friends across the island light up whenever he arrives. His wit and character are threaded throughout his vividly expressive portrait series, Cuba Vive, and are readily recognizable within his diverse selection of photographic subjects from around and across the island.

Carlos has a deep commitment to the natural world, and relishes adventure photography. He has participated in studies of subaquatic archeology, and holds several divemaster and instructor titles, as well as numerous awards for his spectacular underwater photography.

Instagram: @oteroblancocu

Nelson Ramirez de Arellano

Nelson Ramirez de Arellano

Director of the Wifredo Lam Contemporary Art Center and the Havana Biennial

Nelson Ramirez de Arellano Conde launched his artistic career in 1993 as a member of the artist group ArteNativa, a collective focused on social and ecological themes in Havana. He also collaborated with Cuban artist Liudmila Velasco to create Liudmila & Nelson, a photography-based artistic team which represented Cuba at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013.

In addition to his career as an artist, Nelson was the Chief Curator and eventually Director of the Cuban National Center for Photography (Fototeca de Cuba). Presently, he is the Director of the Wifredo Lam Contemporary Art Center and the Havana Biennial.

Ramirez de Arellano also is Co-founder and Curator at Fábrica de Arte Cubano — the most successful and popular cultural project in Cuba, recently nominated by Time Magazine amongst the 100 greatest places in the world.

Instagram: @liudmila_and_nelson_art_choice

What's Covered?

Included

  • Lodging with breakfast all days
  • 7 lunches and 7 dinners
  • Shared studio space
  • Printing of display-quality prints for the group exhibition
  • Transportation within Cuba, including airport pick-up and drop-off
  • Models and location fees
  • Please review our Terms and Conditions before registering

Not Included

  • Supplies and equipment. You will be provided a shared workspace but must bring your own equipment and supplies. Art supplies can be extremely difficult to find in Cuba so you must bring everything you need to create your work and be self-sufficient.
  • Airfare to/from Havana
  • Meals and incidentals not listed as included
  • Visas and mandatory Cuban health insurance. This is available for purchase from your airline with prices varying from $50-85
  • Travel insurance, which we highly recommend

Gallery