October 16, 2014 - November 15, 2014

Curated by William Cordova

  • Barron Sherer / Graham Lambkin
  • Carlos Prim
  • Carlos Sandoval de León
  • David Rohn
  • Dona Altemus
  • Donald McKnight
  • Ena Marrero
  • Ernesto Oroza
  • Gean Moreno
  • Glexis Novoa
  • Jorge Pantoja
  • Juana Valdes
  • Karen Rifas
  • Kristen Thiele
  • Lou Anne Colodny
  • Onajide Shabaka
  • Purvis Young
  • Ralph Provisero
  • Robert McKnight
  • Robert Thiele
  • Yanira Collado

The Trans-physics of South Florida Landscape
“we should “want…[our] relationship to space to evoke architecture as it is informed by the humanities, not architecture simply as a technical art”-LaVerne Wells-Bowie (Art On My Mind: Visual Politics: bell hooks)

South Florida is made up of layered landscapes, who over lap and criss cross, that often merge but are equally segregated due to, but not limited to, politics, Race, class etc. Miami’s art communities have one common thread that binds them together and that is the sense of isolation due to a lack of critical discourse starting from institutions of higher learning down to a lack of public support and funding for grass root organizations. The artist, like the working class, are left to fend for themselves with a minimum of city or state resources. The working class, unlike the artist, is often better equipped to adapt to the changing economic environment but at the same time lack in external support while the artists are too readily willing participants in gentrifying blue collar working class communities. This transient approach is one that often delivers a false sense of community to the visual artists themselves but at the cost of  displacing and removing whole neighborhoods. This is not a new phenomenon but one that has been applied in major cities in the US for many decades; New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Austin, New Jersey, Detroit etc.. The difference is that Miami doesn’t have the infrastructure to support visual artists due to its tourist industry being a major source of revenue. Today, many Miami artists are feeling the negative effects that their roles played in the real estate game that is pervasively transforming its once rich and diverse communities into culturally vacant dwellings.

Those artists selected for the MIA_ATL exhibition represents different generations of Miami artists whose practice is informed and rooted in South Florida. Who’ve evolved, endured and whose cultural contributions transcend beyond the boundaries of expectation.

“those who ain’t got it can’t show it, those who got it can’t hide it”-Zora Neale Hurston

It is important to note that four generations of Miami based artists are participating in this endeavor. Artists whose work evolved and matured in in different decades.

The 1970s Miami artists; sculptors, painters, and interdisciplinary practitioners whose works can be intimately small and massively intimidating yet subtly poetic. A generation of artists whose work evokes the fragile nature of our existence through materials; oil, wood, textiles, cement, glass, paper, reclaimed materials. Building a language that speaks of the human condition… of its losses and gains.

The 1980s also produced a generation of artists whose works was also a reflection of the economy within South Florida. Many artists during this period evolved through drawing, video, performance, installation art and often responded to the changing climate during a period of social unrest; economic recession, crack epidemic, racial uprisings, political corruption, influx of political refugees from Cuba and Haiti. Miami was a city polarized by the haves and have nots. Miami Vice (TV show) drew its weekly show plots from the pages of The Miami News and Miami Herald. Whole communities abandoned South Florida and South Florida politicians abandoned whole communities through a decade of economic excess and despair. The 1980s though was also a moment when Miami became a major port of entry for many diasporas seeking a better way of life. Central Americans, South Americans, Caribbean’s, Russians relocated and re-settled thus adding to and influencing South Florida’s landscape. One should note that Florida’s landscape has a long history of Native American and Black presence, in the 1700s through the Tequesta, Maroons, Black Seminal Indians, or Gullah Geechee people who often escaped from British slavery via South Carolina and Georgia to Fort Mose, St.Augustine, Florida and down to Ceiba Mocha, Cuba.

Black Miami has produced a wealth of local artists, not limited to the visual arts, whose contributions to society as a whole have often gone unacknowledged and excluded from a larger social discourse. In the 1980s, The Artifacts Artists Group, The South Florida Art Center, The Bakehouse Art Complex and the Española Way Art Center, collectives and non-profit institutions all opened in parts of Miami that at the time were considered uninhabitable. These spaces opened to provided low cost art studios and exhibition spaces in for hundreds of local talent that was kept vibrant well into the 1990s.

It is during the 1990s though that many local artists started their own grass-roots artist run spaces due to a rise young in South Florida artists; The Box, The House, The Warehouse, Alliance Theater Gallery. Artists started to define their own presence in South Florida even with the lack of strong visual art programs in local universities or support from Museums and commercial galleries. Artists in the 1990s were influenced by their 80s childhood and many went through the Miami Dade Community College art programs whose faculty were a mix of 1960s and 1970s artists. This mix of teacher and student created a mentorship movement in a decade that was fueled by alternative methods of cultivating community.

The 2000s brought the Art Basel Art Fair phenomenon and its economic force radically transformed Miami into an opportunistic space for commercial galleries, businesses and real estate investors. Quickly uprooting and erasing many grass-roots organizations and suffocating the local art scene until a corporate air dominated much the same vein as in the 1980s, 90s and 2000s Soho, East Village, West Village, Williamsburg, Lincoln Park, Harlem.

The MIA_ATL artists are those whose personal agendas navigated around the politics, whose thick skin kept them one step away from being consumed by commerce or abandonment. All the artists in the exhibition were born in North America, the Caribbean, South America. They all share a unique experience and they all have a common struggle articulated through their work. The MIA_ATL artists are the layers of this South Florida landscape. Their experience and perseverance alway rises.

-william cordova

William Cordova is an interdisciplinary artist living in Miami/New York City. Cordova’s work addresses the metaphysics of space and time and how objects change and perception changes when we move around in space. Cordova received a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1996 and an MFA from Yale University, 2004. He has been in residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Headlands Art Center, Artpace and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, among others. He has exhibited in the US, Latin America, Europe and Asia. His work is in the public collection at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, the Yale Art Gallery, New Haven, CT, Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru, Ellipse Foundation, Cascais, Portugal, La Casa de las Americas, Havana, Cuba among others. Cordova was represented in the Museum of Modern Art/PS1 Greater New York exhibition, an overview presentation of contemporary artists whose contributions to the arts have had a significant influence in society. In 2011 Cordova was invited for his first one person museum exhibition in Europe, yawar mallku: royalty, abductions y exiles at La Conservera, Murcia, Spain and also awarded the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant. In 2013 he was nominated and participated in the prestigious American Academy in Berlin Fellowship. Cordova will be working on a fellowship at Stanford University and participating in Prospect III New Orleans Biennial (Fall 2014).