As part of the Mariel boatlift in 1980, Cuban-American artist Edel Rodriguez, at just nine years old, moved with his family from their native Cuba to the United States, with little more than the clothes on their backs. In the subsequent years Edel began work as an art director before establishing himself as an artist and illustrator working for the likes of The New Yorker, The New York Times and TIME magazine – where his illustration of Donald Trump as a flaming, screaming fireball received international attention.
But even as Edel’s star in the art world rose, his home country of Cuba and all that he left behind as a child was never far from his mind. It’s an all too familiar story that has gained new poignancy in our recent times, and one that depicts the human side of immigration and loss. In this specially commissioned feature Cuban-American journalist Rebecca Sanchez follows Edel as he returns home for the first time in almost a decade, bringing the gift of creativity back to his beloved Cuba.