Art Auction 2021 Meet the Artist: Ann Dean

Havana by Number – 264


Welcome to the first in a series of interviews by local artist and 2021 Benefit Art Auction afficionado Grace Eason, featuring the generous donors who have created pieces for this year’s event!


Photographer Ann Dean is a visual artist and instructor at the Lawrence Arts Center. Dean has donated Havana by Number – 264 to this year’s auction, which can be found here at our online auction site. I asked her to tell me a little more about the piece and why she chose it.

This image is a selection from my ‘Havana by Number’ series. I have visited the island nation of Cuba several times in the past 20 years. Always what sticks with me most are the Cuban people and the way they go about their everyday lives. Although lacking many of the creature comforts that we in the United States take for granted, the feeling of harmony, contentment, and warmth of spirit were ever-present as I had never experienced before. They did so much with very little and their innovation, ingenuity, and creativity were truly inspiring.

I decided to try and represent these people and their culture without invading their personal space and “taking” their image. Instead these numbers capture the essence of the lives, the places, the culture, the personalities, and the feel of the people of Havana and what lies behind them. Facades with vivid color, gorgeous simplicity, and crumbling beauty, each one unique. The Cubans manage to walk the fine line between strict rules, innocence, being held back, and being completely free in spirit, and they do so with such grace and optimism, while maintaining a strong sense of self and community.

This piece is special because it enables us to travel through Dean’s lens without leaving the comfort of our homes. Small architectural details convey a strong sense of Cuba, almost like we were wandering the streets and happened upon this scene ourselves.

Dean invites you to see more of her work from Cuba on her website. We are so grateful for her participation in the auction.