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MOCA North Miami Announces 2024 Art On The Plaza Artists




The Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami (MOCA) is pleased to announce the 2024 Art On The Plaza Artists: Yanira Collado, Christopher Mitchell, and Nicole Salcedo. This annual program, inaugurated in 2020, provides an opportunity for South Florida artists to engage with the museum and its community, employing MOCA’s front plaza as a platform to elevate their site-specific, temporary public art installations.


“As part of our mission, we’re dedicated to showcasing the creative breadth and scholarship of Miami’s local artists while also providing opportunities for the community to access and engage with our city's vibrant arts scene,” said Chana Sheldon, MOCA Executive Director. “Over the years, MOCA has steadfastly supported local artists and fostered community engagement through accessible, free programming. Offering programs like Art on the Plaza is a core tenet to that ongoing commitment.”


The three installations will be sequentially displayed at MOCA throughout the year, offering visitors an opportunity to engage with a variety of themes, such as cultural identity and heritage, mythology and spirituality, nature and environment, and transformation through reflection. 


Art on the Plaza Artists are meticulously selected through proposals reviewed by an appointed committee. As an expansion from the program’s previous iterations, this year the program selected three artists, rather than four, in an effort to provide even more personalized support throughout their creative processes. Each artist will receive focused attention and assistance with fabrication, installation, and associated programming, ensuring their projects thrive over an extended four-month period. 


Opening March 13, sculptor Yanira Collado will showcase, For those who transcend in the wind/En los Ritmos de Oya/ Nan ritm yo Oya, a series of wind-propelled pinwheels, placed in MOCA’s fountain, which serve as a symbolic gesture representing joy, protection, spirituality, and the cycles of life, particularly within the African Diaspora of the Caribbean and Black North American communities.


Collado’s practice engages concepts that allude to the restoration of things once muted due to the paradoxes in time and the disruption of indigenous cultures, summoned through materials such as reclaimed literary texts, wood, textiles, concrete, iron and drywall. With these materials, she creates an interplay with inherent geographic histories.


Emphasizing this part of her practice, the pinwheels will be decorated with specific visual elements: varying tones of blue, associated with healing and protection in African traditions; patterns inspired by African geometrical creations and ancestral inheritance, reflecting the spiritual essence; and irregularities in the patterns reminiscent of Shoowa cut-pile embroidery from the Kuba Kingdom, symbolizing cultural continuity and resilience. Additionally, symbols resembling quilting blocks, reference the historical use of quilts as code language by enslaved Africans escaping persecution via the Underground Railroad.


 

Opening June 26, MOCA’s Plaza will unveil Christopher Mitchell's photographic series, Haitian Mermaids. In the presentation, the Haitian-American photographer and director captures portraits of community members transformed into life-sized mermaids, adorned in vibrant Kanaval-style costumes. These captivating images will be showcased floating gracefully on and underwater in the fountain.


Since the mid-1990s, Mitchell has dedicated his practice to documenting Haiti in all its dimensions, while embracing a versatile approach to photography, using a myriad of photographic techniques. His expansive portfolio serves as a tapestry of Haitian culture, reflecting its remarkable diversity and enduring resilience, and offering an outsider’s perspective on the traditional Miami arts ecosystem.


In Haitian folklore, mermaids evoke a blend of fear and admiration, commanding reverence from a safe distance, their presence serving as a poignant reminder of the delicate balance between humanity and the natural world. Drawing inspiration from the significance of these mythical figures, Mitchell's installation delves into the rich narratives of Haiti's coastal regions, capturing tales from the seas surrounding its beaches and the majestic waterfalls of Basin Blu in Jacmel. Through this presentation, viewers will be granted a glimpse into the enigmatic world of mermaids, believed to dwell beneath the urban landscape, including sewers, imparting cautionary wisdom about the perils of venturing too far into the waters, swimming alone, and the importance of environmental preservation.


Opening September 18, Nicole Salcedo’s Earth Gate will culminate as the final installation of the 2024 series, offering a transformational threshold for visitors to pass through and honoring the spirit of the Earth and our inherent interconnectedness with all beings. 


The Cuban-American artist's multidisciplinary practice spans sculpture, fibers, performance, film, drawing, and mark-making. Drawing from the legacies of Cuban women artists, such as Ana Mendieta and Belkis Ayón, Salcedo integrates botany, fractals, electromagnetic physics, and animistic spirituality to explore land-consciousness and the interplay between the body and its environment.

Inspired by Caribbean-style gates, her installation at MOCA features intricate plant motifs and a large face representing the spirit of nature. The installation’s freestanding design signifies a transition from the mundane to the sacred, inviting reflection before crossing. Supported by pools of water, the work will enhance the museum's landscape, offering visitors a meaningful opportunity to contemplate and connect, closing out the 2024 series of Art on the Plaza.


“We are thrilled to welcome these three artists to MOCA, as they draw upon the cultural heritage of their respective backgrounds, while also reflecting on the ever-evolving artistic landscape of this community,” said MOCA curator Adeze Wilford. “Each of the works coming to the Plaza offer an imaginative experience for viewers, from the mythological mermaids to creating a space of contemplation to consider their connection with the environment. The projects on view this season are a reminder that art is a powerful medium for transformation and connection, and I’m looking forward to sharing them with visitors soon.”


Full programming schedules will be announced soon, but for more details on Art on the Plaza, opening events, and past commissions, please visit the museum’s website


By ML Staff. Images courtesy of MOCA North Miami




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