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MOCA North Miami Presents Alexandra Fields O'Neale: Bound//Unbound

The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA), is thrilled to showcase the captivating work of local artist Alexandra Fields O'Neale as she unveils a large-scale art installation, Bound//Unbound, during the museum’s second iteration of Welcome To Paradise. The opening of the installation will be celebrated during a public reception on February 23.

Generously funded by the Knight Foundation and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Welcome To Paradise has been offering free public access to dynamic spaces within the museum since the program’s inception in 2023. Commissioning South Florida artists to adorn MOCA’s Paradise Courtyard with creativity and experimentation, the series also provides a stage for socially-engaged workshops, thought-provoking art talks, captivating performances, and immersive participatory art experiences. 

In the newest season of Welcome To Paradise, curated by MOCA’s Adeze Wilford, artists are tasked with uncovering overlooked facets of Miami’s diverse history. Among them, O’Neale stands out for her profound exploration of Black identity and historical narratives across various mediums—sound, video, performance, and large-scale sculptural works.

Through her immersive, sound art installation, O’Neale transports MOCA’s audiences in a vivid portrayal of the journey of transatlantic enslavement and the quest for freedom via the saltwater railroads to the Bahamas, challenging the viewer’s understanding of the city's past as a beacon of freedom amidst the shadows of the transatlantic slave trade while remaining deeply rooted in local history.

Drawing in visitors to traverse two square metal enclosures enveloped in mixed media, such as blue netting and thin rope, in-and-outside the enclosures, the outdoor installation will be an immersive experience akin to walking through a saltwater railroad. An audio component will mirror the sounds of the ocean, allowing guests to engage with and reflect upon the narrative presented in the piece.

The installation invites visitors to navigate between two metal structures symbolizing the paths to enslavement and freedom. Within each enclosure, they encounter immersive atmospheric and sonic transformations. Anchoring this spatial journey is a site-specific soundscape where the ocean becomes a narrator, serving as a historical conduit carrying the poignant narratives and lost lives of enslaved individuals at sea. 

“As a native Miamian, I was unaware of our city’s connection to this monumental aspect of history and I  wanted to delve into these narratives in a tangible way that people could interact with and learn from. Much of that ambition is manifested in the sonic and interactive aspects of this piece,” said Alexandra Fields O’Neale. “At its core, the piece is about resurrecting a silenced history that risks fading away. My goal is to inspire viewers to look beyond textbook or mainstream narratives and continue to explore the layers of history hidden in every corner of our city.”

“In an area that is rapidly shifting and changing both by demographics and by memory of shared spaces, Alexandra’s practice assumes heightened significance, and we’re most excited to platform her artistry in this year’s Welcome To Paradise program,” adds Adeze Wilford, MOCA curator. “My hope is that the work sparks people's desire to understand and engage with history, even when it is painful and dark. For an emotionally-charged subject matter, Alexandra has created work that is at once very abstract and also a literal and physical manifestation of the past. The result is an experience rooted in hopefulness.”

During the opening reception on February 23, MOCA members and guests will have the opportunity to meet the artist and indulge in specialty drinks prepared by museum partners, Rhum Barbancourt and Tripping Animals. For more details on the reception, please visit MOCA’s website

Additional programming will take place on March 29 from 6-8pm in conjunction with Bound//Unbound, featuring an evening of mindful movement and sound, activating O’Neale’s installation. Envisioning the ocean as a narrator, retelling the city's history and honoring its ancestors, this embodied activation will include gentle yoga led by Kiyona Miah and Jasmine Mastin of The Black Yogis from South Florida. Visitors will then be invited to participate in an immersive sound bath experience guided by certified hypnosis practitioner and sound artist Kristen Soller. 

O’Neale’s installation will remain on view until June 2. Following that, on June 12, artist Germane Barnes will unveil his installation Shotgun House. Barnes' installation challenges the tendency to overlook historical narratives through a creative reinterpretation of the vernacular architecture of a shotgun house. Transforming the architectural style into a dynamic sculpture with interactive components, the installation aims to bring attention to the vibrant histories of the historic Overtown neighborhood, where these houses once stood.

The featured works in this year’s Welcome To Paradise series epitomize the significant, yet often marginalized, histories rooted both locally in Miami and across the nation. By engaging these two artists and their practices, MOCA seeks to reckon with the complex cultural landscape of South Florida, acknowledging and celebrating the diverse stories and lived experiences within its community, while offering an opportunity for reflection. 

In conjunction with these installations, MOCA will also host public and educational programming taking place throughout the duration of the season. For more information on Welcome to Paradise and upcoming programming, please visit the museum’s website.

By ML Staff. Image courtesy of MOCA North Miami


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