Gilberto Palacios (born 1959)
Gilberto Palacios was born in Cuba and grew up in Havana. His single mother worked hard to raise him and his eight siblings. As a young boy, the music and festivals of Havana captivated Palacios and he would draw pictures of the festivals on anything he could find. “In Cuba, they sold no art supplies, so I just drew on paper bags with a pencil.” In 1980 Palacios left the oppressive dictatorship and limited acceptance that he experienced in Cuba and went to live in the United States. He would spend the next twenty years of his life trying to fit into American Culture, which he found foreign and daunting. He struggled to overcome language barriers, lack of job opportunities, discrimination, depression, and homesickness. Palacios decided to take a bus to Boston to start anew. Upon arrival, he was referred to Saint Francis House, sleeping at the Long Island Annex shelter. Palacios also used the art room at Saint Francis to rediscover his childhood passion for the festivals and music of Cuba. Loving memories of his mother also play a dominant role in his work. Palacios has now found an apartment, and he is currently a working artist in the Gateway Arts studio in Brookline, Massachusetts.