Between the Lines

Found in Cuba: The Ingenuity and Creativity of Ediciones Vigía

Carilda Oliver Labra, Canto a Matanzas (2014: Matanzas, Cuba: Edicion) Vanderbilt University Special Collections

Ediciones Vigía began making handmade books in Matanzas, Cuba, in 1985, limited to 100-200 copies, to make national literature known to Cubans and to create beautiful books. Despite the economic hardships of the 1990s, known as Cuba’s “special period,” they continued in the same house, relying entirely on volunteers and repurposed materials, creatively using brown paper, burlap, string, tobacco leaves and whatever is available. While many government supported publishers in Cuba have had to close over time, Vigía still thrives today as an independent publishing house on Watchtower Square. Over the years Vanderbilt has built a collection of almost 150 of these artists’ books, primarily acquiring them through trips to Cuba and Mexico. An exhibit was held in Special Collections on the collection with an opening lecture given by Paula Covington.