La Bolita

Elaine Lopez
MFA GD 2019

La Bolita (Spanish for “little ball”), was a type of lottery popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Cuba and among Florida’s working-class Hispanic, Italian, and black population.

As in Chinese numerology, Cubans assign a meaning to each number to help translate their dreams and daily events into the numbers to play in the lottery. For example, 1 = horse. If you see a horse today, you should play the number 1 in the lottery.

This is my grandmother’s notebook. She used to sit by the TV every night and write down the lottery numbers.

What if you could become rich by acquiring not lottery winnings but knowledge about Cuba? Introducing Bolita! An interactive publishing game where the numbers you pick determine which page you get in a booklet of Cuban history. Pick a number, grab the corresponding signature, and read the research about the topic I have curated for you.

Each page tells a fragment of Cuban history, representing how we learn about cultures—through random bits and pieces of information.

Learn about Ernest Hemingway’s cats!

Or how the CIA tried assassinating Fidel Castro with an exploding seashell.

My research also led me to discover Cuban artist Ana Mendieta. She too was using her art to connect to her ancestors and the world around her.

Elaine Lopez explores in her work her Cuban heritage, social equity and inclusion, and how to make graphic design more humane.