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MOCA North Miami to Present “Collection Focus: Our Beginnings Never Know Our Ends"

The Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami (MOCA) is pleased to present “Collection Focus: Our Beginnings Never Know Our Ends,” a new exhibition of artworks that explore ideas of selfhood and the negotiation of relationships. The exhibition will be on view from April 28 through July 11, 2021.



Curated by Elizabeth Shannon, Ph.D., Collections Curator at the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College, the exhibition was in its final planning stages when the COVID-19 pandemic reached the United States. As everything drastically changed, some of the pieces in the exhibition gained a new significance.


“‘Collection Focus: Our Beginnings Never Know Our Ends’ is the second in a series of recent explorations of MOCA’s permanent collection,” said MOCA Executive Director Chana Sheldon. “We are pleased to re-introduce these works to the community, with new context and scholarship.”


The exhibition features works by Ann Agee, Hernan Bas, Christine Borland, Inka Essenhigh, Luis Gispert, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Joel Otterson, Elaine Reichek, Ilene Segalove, Beverly Semmes, Anna-Maria Sircello, Shinique Smith, Michael Vasquez and Helen Verhoeven. Its title is derived from T. S. Eliot’s poem “Portrait of a Lady” (1915), from which Shinique Smith also drew the title of her work “And, she has a bowl of lilacs in her room” (2008), which featured in her 2010 solo exhibition at MOCA.


Many works, particularly those created by women and LGBTQA+ artists, challenge and subvert existing hierarchies; others encourage viewers to think carefully about identity and its expression. Some pieces highlight the conflicting influences, histories and narratives that contribute to a sense of self and the difficulty of truly comprehending anyone else.


Exhibiting artist Hernan Bas is one of Miami’s most internationally renowned artists. Bas’ work, “Ghosts of You,” is part of a series of paintings inspired by The Hardy Boys books and appeared in his first solo museum exhibition, “It’s Super Natural,” at MOCA in 2002. Bas continues to gain inspiration from literary sources while exploring LGBTQIA+ issues, queer desire, the paranormal and the occult.


Inka Essenhigh’s “Romantic Painting” features her distinctive style that draws from influences such as Art Nouveau, Japanese anime and the dynamic motion of Italian Futurist sculpture. Essenhigh came to prominence in New York in the 1990s with her Wallpaper series created using enamel paint. After 2001 she began to use oil paint in order to achieve a more modulated and illusionistic effect, as seen in “Romantic Painting.”


Miami-based artist Michael Vasquez’s drawing “Father didn’t want anything to do with it” is one of a number of works that the artist has produced during his career that explore the idea of the father figure and a father’s absence. The drawing reflects one aspect of the artist’s experience growing up as the only child of a single parent mother and being drawn to neighborhood street gangs.


The exhibition explores how we form and maintain a stable sense of self amid personal, familial and social expectations and pressures. Many of the artists suggest how we might exist in the world and fulfill a responsibility to others while maintaining optimism, kindness, resilience and good humor.


For more information, visit https://mocanomi.org/.


By ML Staff. Images courtesy of MOCA