McLean shares Havana images, travel tips

Jun 04, 2017
Photo by: Patrisha McLean Camden photographer Patrisha McLean’s “Havana Street Children” images are on view in June at Camden Public Library.

Camden — “Havana Street Children,” Camden photographer Patrisha McLean’s chronicle of three trips to Cuba over the past two years, is on display in the Picker Room of the Camden Public Library for the month of June. McLean will present a slide show and talk at the library Thursday, June 15, at 7 p.m. The talk will include travel tips to Havana.

McLean photographed in Old Havana, in the dusty residential streets outside of the one tourist shopping street and square and in Havana Central. Separating the two districts is the five-star Parque Central hotel, where the price for one meal, in tourist dollars, is than a month’s worth of local pesos … and the street food is much tastier, McLean said.

“On the streets where I roamed with my camera to the sounds of roosters crowing and rickety food cart wheels and smells of overripe guava, there was no internet, one or two channels of exclusively Communist TV programming, and not one American brand name product or sign,” she said.

Because even the soccer balls are worn and deflated and crayons are a luxury, the childhood play she observed and documented was all about imagination, she said — a tennis ball, latex glove and stick become baseball gear; cigarette box tops, trading cards; a flattened tin cap, a hopscotch marker; and a length of rubber, a skipping rope.

“It is striking how much the children in Havana don’t have,” said McLean. “But it is as striking how resourceful children can be, how much joy can be had with so little, and, by contrast, how much our own children on the opposite spectrum of materialism might be missing.”

The photographer called the work in “Havana Street Children” a snapshot in time, because “change is coming.”

Twenty-five years ago, McLean photographed the children of Rockland and Belfast in her first photo project, “The Children of Fulton Street.” This Havana series marks her transition to digital photography from black and white film. She is a commissioned children’s photographer with two published books: “Maine Street,” about her community of Camden; and “My Island,” nominated for the Maine Literary Award, about the children on Islesboro, North Haven and Vinalhaven. She teaches The Art of Photographing Children at Maine Media Workshops.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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