Rose Marie Cromwell is a photographic and video artist currently living and working between New York, Panama, and Cuba. Her work explores the effects of globalization on human interaction and social politics. She is also interested in the tenuous space between the political and the spiritual. Cromwell’s work has been published online and in print in a variety of international magazines, includingthe 2014 Vice Photography Issue, LayFlat.com and Vision Magazine in China. Cromwell is the founder of Cambio Creativo, an alternative arts education initiative based in Panama; and has taught at the International Center of Photography, Syracuse University, and at the Aperture Foundation.
I appropriated the title of this work, El Libro Supremo de la Suerte
(The Supreme Book of Luck), from a booklet that explains La Charada, a
Chinese-Cuban folkloric number system that assigns specific meaning to
numbers 1 to 100. Many Cubans rely on La Charada to translate life
events into numbers they play in the underground lottery.
I met friend Milagros by chance on my first trip to Cuba more
than 10 years ago. She once played 52, the number for bicycle, after
her neighbor bought a new bike. Revolution is 93, butterflies is 2,
and divorce is 45. On a more recent visit I found a wrinkled paper
containing lists of lottery numbers and was surprised to find my phone
number among them. “Rosa EstadosUnidos: 315 722 1852.” It blended in
with the numbers representing Milagros life.
I find an uncanny resemblance between the search for meaning in the
mundane with the number system, and my search for symbols of personal
significance in Cuba. I am honoring the symbols and
occurrences that have shaped my understanding of a place and time. I
am documenting my relentless search for intimacy and spirituality,
while navigating the politics of my presence in Cuba, as photographer
and ultimately an outsider.
Cromwell was named one of 25 under 25 Up and Coming American Photographers by PowerHouse Books and The Center for Documentary Studies in 2008, and named one of “15 Photographers to Watch” by the Telegraph in 2014. She has been awarded a number of residencies and awards including a Fulbright Fellowship and a Lightwork Residency. Her first solo show was at the Diablo Rosso gallery in Panama City, and recently participated in the 1st Bienale del Sur in Panama City.
To view more of Rose’s work, please visit her website.