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Kristen Cyr
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Artist to bring latest project, which links aroma of coffee with memories, to CCRI

Feb. 24, 2016

photo of Cafe Recuerdos coffee cart "Cafe Recuerdos" and creator Ana Flores will be in the cafeteria at the Flanagan Campus in Lincoln March 1 and 2.

What might look like a simple coffee cart in the Community College of Rhode Island’s Flanagan Campus cafeteria next week is actually a new project, “Café Recuerdos,” by artist Ana Flores that explores the connection of memory and aroma.

In light of the unprecedented number of refugees and immigrants who may never see “home” again, Flores explores how the taste of a place – the “terroir” – helps to replace lost terrains in “Terroir, Terrain and the Landscape of Memory.” She will be at the Lincoln campus from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, March 1 and 2, in a visit sponsored by the Charles Sullivan Fund for Arts and Humanities.

Her project “Café Recuerdos” is organized around the social rituals of making and drinking coffee. At its core is a coffee peddler’s cart made out of panels of painted Bustelo coffee cans with portraits of Latinos in the state. The strong aroma of coffee is a stimulant for memory and storytelling, and Flores will serve coffee and engage the public during her campus visit.

Flores remembers her grandmother brewing coffee each morning. “She would look out the steamy windows and perhaps imagine the royal palms dancing in the breeze. Abuela would never return to the island but she’d always carry the Cuban landscape inside of her,” she wrote. “My grandmother is long gone but with each can of Bustelo espresso I open the aroma connects me to a compost of memory.”

Her feelings of nostalgia are not unique, she wrote. Strong smells and flavors have that effect because “the centers for the olfactory bulb and emotional memory are located close to each other in the amygdala, a part of the limbic system – the emotional brain.”

“Café Recuerdos” is a collaboration with Rhode Island Latino Arts’ ongoing oral history project collecting the stories of Latinos in Rhode Island. Flores is an award-winning Cuban American visual artist whose public art practice is focused on revealing the braided stories, the layers of ecological and cultural narratives, embedded in the landscape. Her work ranges from park designs to sculptural installation.

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Last Updated: 8/25/16