Puedes Hablar is an ongoing project through which I am exploring Cuban-Americanism and how my relationship with this identity has evolved over time. Over the years I have been collecting audiovisual artifacts related to my family’s emigration from Cuba to the United States and our subsequent assimilation in the Midwest. These elements—naturalization records, passenger lists, transcribed voicemails, personal childhood motifs—provide me with tangible connections to my history. However, as time and generations pass, these links become more tenuous.
This series of sketches is created while contemplating the phrase “puedes hablar,” which means both “you can speak” and, if intonated as a question, “can you speak?” The expression reflects uncertainties regarding my right to claim a Cuban identity as a white, US-born millennial removed from the realities experienced by my maternal family, yet it also affirms my innate connection to these histories and how they manifest in my thoughts, actions and sense of self.