Afro-Cuban Artist Harmonia Rosalas’ ‘Master Narrative’ on Exhibit at The Memphis Brooks MuseumThe Harmonia Rosales: Master Narrative is on display at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art until June 2023 and features twenty paintings by the Afro-Cuban artist Harmonia Rosales, who seamlessly entwines the tales and characters of the Afro-Cuban Lucumí religion, Greco-Roman mythology, and Christianity with the canonical works and artistic techniques of European Old Masters.


Through her vibrant and visceral paintings, she challenges the concept of the master narrative in a way that collapses the passing of millennia and bridges the vastest of oceans. For Rosales, storytelling is a journey of personal discovery and a reclamation of one’s cultural identity as a means of survival. She asks us to consider the universality of creation, tragedy, resilience, and transcendence through a Black diasporic lens.

Influenced by her multicultural Afro-Cuban background, Harmonia Rosales’ primary artistic concern focuses on Black female empowerment through a diasporic lens. While her subjects serve as conduits for the internal struggles of a disempowered society, they encourage sympathy, empathy, and empowerment.

One’s Inherent Destiny

In most of Rosales’ work, her subjects are gifted with an ori (one’s inherent destiny). Since Eve represents all women in the African diaspora, her portrait magnifies the chronological ori affixed to her life. In a cyclical pattern, one sees her birth, her travels through the Atlantic slave trade, being sold, her death, and the generational impact of her life on Earth. Enclosing her ori are bursts of flowering figs, denoting the human temptation to seize power.

Portrait of Harmonia Rosales | Credit: Sophia Quach McCabe / Courtesy of the artist and Art, Design & Architecture Museum


This exhibition originated at the Art, Design & Architecture Museum, UC Santa Barbara, under the title Harmonia Rosales: Entwined, curated by Dr. Helen Morales, the Argyropoulos Professor of Hellenic Studies, and Dr. Sophia Quach McCabe. It is curated at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art by Dr. Patricia Daigle, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

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