Miami T-Shirt Swap at Churchill’s Pub

Miami T-Shirt Swap at Churchill’s Pub” published on Tropicult.com

By Monica Torres

T-shirts are the most underrated medium for art, providing a platform for the display of creativity through both language and form. These aptly named cotton, shoulder-chest huggers are the most democratic pieces of fashion. Quintessentially American, T-shirts embody a spirit of individuality through self-expression. They share a special, symbiotic relationship to another homegrown American art-form, rock-and-roll. T-shirts are memorabilia, capturing memories of a time and place, through music.

The Churchill’s T-Shirt Swap Meet, which took place last Sunday August 11, 2013, was an art gallery event where Miami’s music legends placed all of their old, unwanted t-shirts on display at the pub, inviting people to ponder the personal history behind their shirt. Among these legends were Frank “The Rat Bastard” Falestra“Little” Nicky BoweSteven Toth, Mr. Entertainment, and DJ Le Spam.

Local t-shirt designers such as NiC FiT Vintage and Iron Forge Press also displayed their pieces in a street market-style atmosphere. It was the first pop-up shop event of its kind at the 34-year-old “beloved shit-hole.” For the occasion, the folks over at Shirt Series designed a limited edition t-shirt for the pub depicting a silhouetted gray image along with the said line.  It was sold for $5 a pop.

The Rat Bastard has been a presence in the local scene for almost two decades. Sammy Hagar resembling with curly blond tresses, wearing dark shades indoors like a real rock-star, Frank Falestra, also known as Rat, was selling some of his old rags for $2. I got a chance to see his kind, light green eyes for a moment as he, shade-less, asked me to take any of his shirts.  Happily, I got a glittery “Temple of Bon Matin” t-shirt along with an introduction to the obscure “noise” genre band. In this way, t-shirts serve as one of the best promotional materials, leading observers to take interest in a band or business through catchy designs.

Beatriz Monteavaro  from local heavy metal “noise” group Holly Hunt was also selling her old rags, displaying memories and experience. Out of the black, grey, and white heavy metal shirts that made up her table, one particular shirt stood out from the rest. On a green background was written Ice Cube’s lyrics, “I didn’t even have to use my a.k, today was a good day.” I asked Beatriz about the shirt. She said that someone she didn’t like anymore had given it to her.  So, getting rid of it meant getting rid of the memory as well. She also said she didn’t mind parting ways with the shirts because they were ones that she didn’t want anymore.

Enjoy a gallery of some of T-shirts from the event:

Tom Tom Magazine x Miami’s Best Female Drummers

Tom Tom Magazine x Miami’s Best Female Drummers” published in Tropicult.com.

You might think that a magazine all about female drummers wouldn’t be very popular, but Mindy Abovitz has shown us that the world loves to see a badass mama hitting them tambours hard. Her all about ‘chicks with sticks’ publication, Tom Tom Magazine, has become a hit around the globe.

For its Summer 2013 “Country Issue” the magazine headed south to discover the female drumming talent booming in the Miami music scene. And, meanwhile, its creator got an opportunity to connect to her roots.

Mindy is a homegrown Florida girl, but currently resides in Brooklyn, where the magazine is headquartered.  She started playing drums after her best friend, Stephanie Lavigne, bought Mindy her first drum kit.  Stephanie is now a photographer specializing in underwater, commercial, architectural and wedding photography.

For the issue, the two childhood friends sank the old drum kit to the bottom of a pool for a sublime, underwater photo-shoot.  Photographing the sinking drums and rising bubbles metaphorically captured the moment in the deep fluency of time.

“Submerging the drum set combined two of my favorite things (drumming and swimming) and photographing it left behind the ephemera to remember the moment forever” Mindy Abovitz

 

To kick off Tom Tom Magazine’s world tour, on May 22, they hosted a show with Plan B at Churchill’s Pub.  Five drum-banging girls, their bands and the people who love them came together to support the publication. The line-up included Testokra, Killmama, Estonian Couch Surfer, Quarter Horses and the Violet West.

photo-2At Books and Books in Coral Gables on July 24, Tom Tom Magazine hosted a Q & A with Mindy Abovitz.  Liz Tracy, music editor at the Broward New Times, facilitated the conversation which revolved around feminism, drumming, and women in music and media. Here are few highlights from the Q & A.

Monica Torres (Q): What made you want to start a magazine all about female drummers?

Mindy Abovitz (A): I am a feminist.  I was tired of googling ‘women and drums’ back in 2009 (when the magazine was started) only to find images of girls in bikinis on a drum.  So, even though I’m not a writer and I hate writing, I felt there was a need to showcase women drummers and encourage girls and women to drum because the regular drum magazines weren’t doing it.

Liz Tracy (Q): What’s next for Tom Tom Magazine?

Mindy Abovitz (A): I want to work with women’s advertisement.  I want to target feminine products such as makeup and maxi pads, you know the things you think about when you think about women.

Liz Tracy:  Yes, because when I think of women, I always think of a huge maxi pad.  (Audience Laughs)

A Tom Tom Magazine event wouldn’t be complete without a woman drumming it out, so Quarter Horses played a set after the Q & A. They are a trio consisting of drummer Emile MilgrimDaniel Elijah (Novy Graey) and Tristan John.

The gospel noir band derives musical inspiration from symbolist paintings as well as old American gospel music from the south.  It was only their second show, but their dark, melodic sound drew a large crowd.  Many congregated around the band, sitting on the floor, taking in Graey’s poetic vocals about sexual, spiritual struggles, in a sort-of musical communion. They’re definitely one local band to keep your eye on.

The magazine’s current issue also features a Miami Drumming Guide, which showcases some of our favorite Miami female drummers. Beatriz Monteavaro of Holly HuntSophie Sputnik of Killmama and Emile Milgrim of Quarter Horses are some of the ladies featured. Emile Milgrim is also the manager at Sweat Records and the owner of record label Other Electricities. She is a friend of Mindy’s and helped to organize these local events.  The drumming guide contains insider information for all you music lovers and musicians on the scene, including these drummer’s favorite local hangs, recording studios, music stores and the best places to play in town.

Enjoy a gallery of some badass women on drums below.  Some of these images were taken from Tom Tom Magazine’s awesome Facebook page.

The magazine has articles, art, fashion, comedy, city drumming guides, interviews, tips and techniques for drummers, global current events, and more.  The current issue contains a review of the HBO documentary, “Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer,” giving attention to the harsh, unjust incarceration of the Russian girl group.  There is also a section with some really cool oil-on-linen drum paintings by Alexandria Tarver. Go pick up a copy today, there’s a stack over at Sweat Records right now.

Bringing Back Vinyl: Analog Art Show

 

Bringing Back Vinyl: Analog Art Show [Retrospective]” published on Tropicult.com.

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The ritual union of art & music was explored at the Analog Art Show: Where Art Meets Vinyl last Friday at  Sweat Records. There’s something special about putting the needle down on a piece of vinyl, hearing that screechy sound, then watching it spin melodies-the movement itself an aphrodisiac for dance. Vinyls take me back to childhood when my dad played Willie Nelson and Nat King Cole records on an old wooden record player while we danced next to them in the living room, a sort of after-dinner ritual.

The exhibit explored how listening to music on vinyl records can be an art form. Like those old discarded records that are transformed into something of beauty, the art of putting the needle down on a piece of vinyl, hearing that screechy sound, and watching it spin music, shouldn’t be discarded because there are newer forms of transcribing sound. The sound and beauty of vinyl records is not a thing of the past, but a thing that will be around forever thanks to places like Sweat Records.

I went to see the Analog Art Show: Where Art Meets Vinyl at Sweat on Friday, met up with friends and made some new ones. In general, the event boasted a great turnout- Ms. Cheezious was parked outside providing some yum. Surrounded by a room full of hippie-types and underground art-lovers, I chatted with the event organizer, Yuval Ofir, President of Yo Miami, and asked him a little about his inspiration for the event. Yuval told me that he had been wanting to collaborate with Sweat Records for some time.  He hoped to give local artists the challenge to create works on a fresh new, unexpected platform, vinyl records, giving them the freedom to work with more affordable materials and the opportunity to do something different. All final pieces sold for less than $200, much like those at Yo Miami’s Average Joe Art Sale, a real bargain in today’s art world. It gives “average” kids a chance to start their own art collection. The idea, Yuval said, came from his friend, local artist, WHUT, who’s known for  using vinyl as the principal medium for his work. He creates collages on records and CDs. One of his original pieces shown below was to be auctioned at the event and given away as part of Free Art Fridays.

The idea of putting art on vinyl is sort of metaphysical. The rotation of the record, like the passing of time, gives viewers the constant sensation of movement. Therein lies the beauty of this art form. Old pieces that are seemingly outdated, unwanted, discarded, like vinyl records (I mean who uses those anymore), are shown to have value besides just the mechanism for hearing sound and music.  They are now portrayed as works of art.

Miami As Muse

A friend of a friend  I met happened to be Esther Weinbach one of the artists exhibiting at the event, so I got a chance to meet her and chat with her a bit about her inspiration behind the work. Esther said she was inspired to create a piece with colors true to the city of Miami. I also had the pleasure to meet  Ernesto Kunde of Kunde Art. Ernesto’s pieces caught my eye. Out of a backdrop of maps, his silhouetted images show the beauty of natural forms. He also said his pieces were  inspired by the city, particularly the Mangroves and the beautiful scantily-clad women.

Some of the other notable pieces were inspired by music. These include Teepop’s record in honor of Blondie’s recent birthday and one portraying the Beastie Boys. Local artist, Diana Contreras, also created portraits of the singer Lauryn Hill. Her portrait of Lauryn Hill entitled “A Rose is Still a Rose” is shown below. Among the many others that exhibited were ATOMIK, Luis Berros, Trek6, Chy Tea Shoulin, Ivan Roque, Kazilla, Reiner Gamboa, Lorie Setton and many more.

Enjoy a gallery of some of the works. Thanks to Heike Dempster for providing some pictures:

 

And That’s A Wrap: O, MIAMI!

It’s now May and we already miss O, Miami.  For a month, the O, Miami Poetry Festival went wherever people went. Sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation,organizers P. Scott Cunningham and Melody Santiago Cummings brought poetry into public places, both common and special to Miamians. Places one would normally go to for poetry like Books and Books, and the B-Bar at the Betsy Hotel, as well as unlikely places for the elusive art form like El Palacio de Los Jugos, The Swap Shop and Publix, they have a sense of humor.

The festival pumped through the arteries of the city’s heart, our treasured hang out spots. From their “Poets that Rock” concert at Churchill’s Pub, a staple of the city’s rock music scene to avant-garde gallery spaces like the MAM and The LAB Miami, they blurred the city lines, involving many different types of people. And, location to location, they strung together a love poem to the Magic City. In the shadows of the night, they went to dance clubs like The Vagabond  for their signature “Stone Groove” on Tuesdays, where with Afros in sun-glasses-at-night, in a lounge-style vibe, soul-filled poets rap dirty lyrics in a smoke-filled air, not for the faint of heart.

Martha Raoli's winning airplane poem
Martha Raoli’s Winning Airplane Poem

O, Miami hosted their own unique events like Poetry Fusion and Pin Up Pop Up Poetry. And, they popped-up, with their classic, art-deco red typewriters, ready to make poetry at happening festivities like Big Night in Little Haiti and Sweatstock, Sweat Record’s 4:20 Block Party.  They even put poetry across the sky.

With it all they set out to bring a poem to everyone in the city…

Too many events the festival brought typewriters were people could write a short poem to keep. And, if you were brave enough to bust out a lyrical masterpiece on the spot, you got a tote bag with a fill-in-the-blank poetry game, “I will die _____/in the sun”. The lines on the bag were chosen by O, Miami founder P. Scott Cunnigham. They are from his favorite Donald Justice poem “Variations on a Text by Vallejo,” in which the poet exclaims, “I will die in Miami/ in the sun.” (I write this as it’s very rainy outside).

“I will die in a tote bag /in the sun.” Ian Michael

Below is a poem written by a tourist visiting El Palacio de los Jugos with her family, on the same day of the O, Miami Kick-off Party. The organizers chose to have the kick-off there because it’s so Miami of course!

That’s so Miami

with its blue skies

and perfect beach water

no wonder everyone wants to come

it’s like nowhere else I’ve ever seen

that’s so Miami

Josie William

That’s So Miami

tsm_logo-1Not only did they expose people to poems, but they got us making poetry together. The month-long poetry competition, “That’s So Miami,” where people were challenged to write short poems starting or ending with the phrase, “That’s so Miami,” got over 2000 entries. Moreover, the contest had a twitter, tumblr and instagram component, where people were asked to hashtag #thatssoMiami pictures (below) and short poem tweets.  The winners are to be published in a book titled, “That’s O, Miami.” Look out for it soon!

 

Another song of the city was seen on O’Miami’s black and white posters, hung along Biscayne Blvd. On them was the following verse, ”I ride for / I lie for / I cry for Dade” and “No ifs, ands, or, buts, I’m from Dade.”  Their effect was either to appease or annoy lonely drivers battling their daily dose of the city’s dreadful traffic. But, I can’t imagine I’m the only one who wondered, “Is that poetry?” Actually, they are lyrics from a Pitbull song, “Welcome to Miami“. I have never considered him a poet, but, hey, try defining poetry. It’s inexplicable nature, like love, is part of its beauty.  And, in poetry there are no rules, perfect for Miami, a city where people like to make their own. But, the posters hung high, reminding everyone that the Spring Festival brought poetry, good or bad, to our hot, humid air, giving us a strange sense of pride about being from Miami and a reason to celebrate the nuances of our city. Speaking of pride, the ultimate test of pride for the 305 was to get some ink. At their Animal Spirits event sponsored by the Ocho Placas Tattoo Company, Miami lovers got to choose a $10 tat from the following so Miami symbols.

Poetic Fusion: Dance & Poetry

Another unique aspect of the festival was collaborating with established artists to fuse poetry with dance, art, film, and music. One of the festivals most unique, smaller events, which I got to attend was Poetic Fusion. At The LAB Miami, an organic synthesis between poetry, dance, and music was the experiment.

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The choreographer, Adriana Pierce from the Miami City Ballet, said she used the intonations of sound and musicality of the poet Barbara Lisette Anderson’s words to conjure up a ballet routine. I got the chance to talk to the poet and snapped a vine, see below. Local poets and dancers fused their passions at this event, which had a colorful botanical theme, fitting for the Spring.

https://vine.co/v/bFWETrE6vI6/embed/simple

Visual Art & Poetry

At the Art Center on Lincoln Road, Pin Up Pop Up Poetry was another cool event created by Beatricia Sagar, poet and resident artist.  I got to chat with Beatricia.

“When you’re in the zone with poetry or painting, you are coming from the same place.” Beatricia Sagar

Throughout the month, people were invited to drop by and pin up poems on the walls.  And the turn out was great. Over 300 were pinned up, and they documented everyone who stopped by to pin up a poem, leaving a permanent record of Miami as a city of poets.  The event culminated with a reading of multi-cultural poets, including Haitian poet Max Freesney Piere, author of “Soul Traveler,” who shared his love of Miami, as well as visiting poets of various ethnic backgrounds, such as AIRIE (Artist in Residence in Everglades) resident, Mary Kate Azcuy.  Her poetry isn’t about Miami at all, but having spent time in the everglades, she was inspired by the city like many other poets and artists. Her poems can be found in the Andrei Kodrescu’s “Exquisite Corpse.”

Till next year or two! O, Miami, we bid you farewell! We can’t wait to see what you do next! Let’s keep it going…Put it in a comment below and share it with us (0r even better, share an original poem about the Magic City)!

For more information or to get involved with O, Miami visit their site and check out the University of Wynwood.

It’s now May and we already miss O, Miami.  For a month, the O, Miami Poetry Festival went wherever people went.

Sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, organizers P. Scott Cunningham and Melody Santiago Cummings brought poetry into public places, both common and special to Miamians. Places one would normally go to for poetry like Books and Books, and the B-Bar at the Betsy Hotel, as well as unlikely places for the elusive art form like El Palacio de Los Jugos, The Swap Shop and Publix, they have a sense of humor…..

Read more of “And That’s A Wrap: O, MIAMI!” published on Tropicult.com

Locust Projects: 15 Year Anniversary Celebration

On their 15th birthday, Locust Projects has good reason to celebrate! They recently moved into a new5,000 square foot exhibition space at a prime location in the burgeoning Design District (near the delicious Harry’s Pizzeria) and they have new projects in the horizon.

Chana Budgazad Sheldon, Executive Director, took the time to tell me about the organization’s mission, show me the space and some recent Locust Projects: rainbows in bus shelters, a subtropical paper wilderness, and recycled vinyl art.

They sound like images out of poetry, but, those are actually images of works Locust Projects has actualized: 1111 Out of the Box: The Billboard Project & The Bus Shelter Project by Agustina Woodgate, Drawn from the Everglades by Wade Kavanaugh, Stephen B. Nguyen, and  Limonene by Hannah Whitaker. These exhibits all have one thing in common: they present an interplay between the outside world  and the artist. In this case, the outside world is the city of Miami. Sometimes the art is brought to the city where it is in need of beautification-bus shelters, garbage and sometimes the city is brought into the gallery as the source of beauty itself-the wilderness.

Locust Projects, a not-for-profit exhibition space, explores an artist’s relationship to their community, thereby encouraging symbiotic growth.  If the artists nurtures the community, the community will nurture the artist.

“One of the unique parts of the talks is that visiting artists are given a tour of the city. They are taken in a car to visit the studios of about 5 local artists, so they get to see the city in a very different way,” Chana Budgazad Sheldon

In the Locust Talks, discussion flourishes between visiting art professionals and the local art community. Not only are ideas exchanged, but support, encouragement, and inspiration are transferred.

“It’s a great way to nurture local talent and assist them in building connections for possible future exhibits.”

IMG_2100The second of three talks, this year welcomed Lauri Firstenberg, director, and chief curator LAXART, Los Angeles, CA. It took place April 18th. The third talk will be in September, so make sure to check out the Locust Projects website for more information. Chana and I sat in a small, cozy room in the gallery, where some classic pieces, including one of Augustina Woodgate’s bus-shelter rainbow posters, are displayed along with shelves filled with numerous art books. The room makes up the  Locust Projects Library. The brand new library room consists of a workspace with a table and chairs. A few classic books caught my eye.

 “We built a library space  so that anyone in the community can come exchange ideas, think, read, research, create  and hang out”

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The library was donated by Debra and Dennis Scholl.  It  is open to the public and now includes more than 1,500 art books. Out of the Box (OOTB): An art gallery, despite the creativity represented by the works hung on its walls, can often itself become a sort of box, where creativity is often obstructed by the walls or conventions that embrace it. Creativity is nurtured by a community. Art can’t exist within a vacuum. Locust Projects Out of the Box project address the need of artists to go out of the box, not only the literal box of the gallery, but of convention. With funding from the Knight Foundation, Locust Projects chose a  local artist, Augustina Woodgate, to create art in a public space.

“The artist wanted to put rainbows around the city.”

In the recent Bus Shelter Project, iridescent pieces that reflect the electromagnetic spectrum were placed in 50 bus shelters and 2 billboards; there is a physics and technically behind the pieces necessary to realize Woodgate’s desire to put rainbows in these unlikely city spaces.

LP_44Woodgate Billboard

In its spirit of serving the community, Locust Projects is also sponsoring summer workshops with high school students, The LAB (Locust Art Builders). Fifteen students from all the schools throughout Miami are chosen.  They are led by a mentor who doesn’t direct them, but simply oversees them.

“We throw the students together in the space and just have them come up with something. Part of it involves learning to have your voice heard in a large group.”

Here’s a photo gallery of some of Locust Projects’ best moments in its 15 years:

 

SPRING FLING

Save the date for the Spring Fling – Saturday, April 27th where you will eat, drink, dance and mingle with an art-appreciating crowd. There will be an auction of collection-worthy pieces and proceeds will benefit the foundation; we ask Miami art lovers to support this amazing organization and the cultural growth of our city.

For more information on how to get involved, visit Locust Projects.

Locust Projects: 15 Year Anniversary Celebration” published in Tropicult.com

MUJER_CITA_MIA: INTERVENTION ART

MUJER_CITA_MIA: INTERVENTION ART [Interview] on Tropicult.com

FUNDarte opens the doors of the Black Box Theater at the Miami-Dade Auditorium for Miami On Stage 2013 for a three-day (Thursday, April 18th to Saturday, April 20th)musical performance by unique, eclectic Latin artists including female vocalist, Leslie Cartaya,  jazz master, Alfredo Chacon, and rapero, Mr. Haka, who mix their ethnic roots with mainstream pop to create new sound.

Simultaneously, a unique kind of audio/visual artistic magic will be popping up in public spaces around the city. The installations are a part of the new public intervention project mujer_cita_MIA by celebrated multi-media artist and feminist activist Dinorah de Jesus Rodriguez.

Dinorah de Jesus Rodriguez’s “mujer_cita_MIA,” is a project which addresses social issues of significance to women.  Videos will be screened outdoors on the façade of the building, as well as in the lobby of the theater and inside the Ladies’ Room during each concert. The work showcases some of Miami’s most beloved female choreographers and dancers: Niurca Marquez and Lucia Aratanha

Watch: Dinorah’s installation piece SONAMBULA featuring Betty Boop

mujer_cita_MIA addresses issues such as rape, gender discrimination, and domestic violence. Art has the power to create dialog and change the world. With the recent alarming headlines surrounding sexual assault, this project comes at a time when creating a dialog is important to promote healing, empowerment, and change.

In 2009, the Obama administration made April national sexual assault awareness month in response to this societal ill.  And, college campuses around the country, including the MMC campus at F.I.U., are addressing the problem through projects such as “Take Back the Night” and a flag display  on the campus’s main lawn.  These projects are conducted by the Women’s Center, which reports current astounding statistics: 1 in 4 college-aged women will be sexually assaulted.  But, statistics are not just numbers.

I feel a personal connection to Dinorah’s project  because I am one of the 1 in 4. I experienced sexual assault as an undergraduate at F.I.U, barely out of my teens.  In my case, as in many of the cases, including those of the recent teenagers, such as Rehtaeh Parsons (RIP), alcohol incapacitation was involved.

In my case, there was only one perpetrator, but a girl encouraged his behavior. But, most trauma occurs later in the form of victim blaming, lack of perpetrator repercussion, and in the tragic case of Rehtaeh Parsons, bullying, even by former girlfriends, was involved.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, you are not alone.  Please reach out  because silence is our worst enemy.  Only through dialog can the society become the type of place where teenage girls full of promise don’t feel the need to commit suicide because some boys (and some of society) think it’s not such a big deal to sexually abuse them when they are incapacitated.  It’s also a lesson for women, girls and their parents: alcohol should only be consumed  in the company of trusted family and friends.  Yet, society also encourages the behavior.  It’s a difficult terrain to cross for many young innocent women just starting their lives, but crossing with knowledge leads to empowerment.  

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“Their grace and power – both physical and spiritual = bestows the piece with the empowering serenity and strength that I hope to bring to the hearts and minds of my audiences, to women everywhere, to the Ladies’ Room.”

The installations will be shown on the facade of the Black Box Theater of the Miami-Dade Auditorium, in the lobby, and in ladies restroom.  Yes, that is right, the ladies restroom, an unexpected place where in between make-up touch-ups, vulnerability often leads to shared intimacy.

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Dinorah de Jesus answered a few questions about this important work…

What inspired muter_cita_MIA?

I was raped in June of 2012 for the third time in my adult life, and as a result of that experience, I knew I needed to do a piece on this. shortly after that, those horrifying rapes happened in Dehli and then Steubenville, and I became consumed by the news on Twitter. The concept of the videos made to be screened in the ladies’ rooms and the idea of creating an account dedicated to feminist activism on Twitter came about kind of simultaneously, and mujer_cita_MIA was born.

It has always been a dual-purpose project: one aim is political activism, the other aim is fine art. I envision  mujer_cita_MIA as a conceptual gathering place for women in Ladies’ Rooms across the city of Miami, a place where our stories are shared privately among ourselves, where there is no shame or guilt surrounding what happened to us, a place of strength. i am trying to recreate that strength and serenity through the dance imagery in the film.

Why use dance and film as mediums?

Video, film & moving image make up my artistic language, so it’s only natural that i should say whatever I need to say in this language. Dance, however, is a universal visual language and this piece really needs to transcend anything that could divide or separate women in any way. Dance is also about the body, about its capacity for strength, recovery, resilience and power.

I am celebrating the fact that even though our bodies have been abused, our spirits prevail & continue to carry those bodies. We are still sensual, beautiful, undefiled, powerful. That is what I’m celebrating, and i think dance is the perfect language to convey that.

What is it about public restrooms that make a good space for the presentation of this art?

I’m all about exhibiting my art in unexpected public spaces, taking it out of the elite infrastructure where fine art normally lives in confinement based on economic class and social access. The ladies’ room is for everyone. In the ladies’ room, we’re playing pretty much on level ground: all of us are biological equals.

It is a place of fleeting intimacy among random strangers, a place of personal, private sharing in the public realm.  It’s a women-only space, so it just feels like a safe space in which to share these very vulnerable stories.  I wrote a lot on my reasons for using the Ladies Room on my blog.

Why not place the art in men’s restrooms? Don’t you think this work is also significant for men as for women as rape and domestic violence is not just a women’s issue but a human issue?

Your story mentions something that I think is at the heart of the whole matter, a very key point: the fact that another woman or girl was involved in encouraging the rapist and then blaming you for what happened. i had similar experiences.  I also noted how in the case of these high school rapes/suicides, the GIRLS are the ones doing most of the bullying & slut-shaming. MOTHERS are raising sons that think it’s the victim’s fault. When a mother tells her daughter “don’t dress like that,” she’s teaching the daughter to judge and blame herself and other women.  It’s a circle, and women are at the heart of perpetuating the rape culture. Pretty horrific.

Until WE wake up and see it for what it is, it cannot change.  That is why it’s so important to educate and reach young women, and that is why i’m focusing my message first on girls and younger women, and then on men. I do plan to make the work available for men online and in other venues (for example, men can see it in the lobby at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium Black Box this coming Thursday, Friday & Saturday as part of FUNDarte’s Miami On Stage).

However, the stories are private stories that women might not want to share in an open, mixed public space. The Ladies’ Room keeps our stories safe within our own space, it stresses the point that this is for US.  Eventually, I would like to create a similar work targeted specifically at men, but I’ll probably want to develop that in collaboration with a male artist and figure out the most effective public spaces to work in.  It might not necessarily be the men’s bathroom.

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Why use social media such as Facebook and Twitter as part of the exhibit?

I think the online feminist movement, also known as the Third Wave of Feminism, is particularly strong, and its strength are not necessarily rooted in White Academia anymore. The movement is global, and there are a ton of great feminist bloggers from countries in Africa, India, and Latin America working in the online sphere to raise consciousness and incite social action on a number of topics.  

On social media, and Twitter in particular, I am in dialogue with these women daily, i feel that I am connected to a global movement that is propelling the change i want to see in the world.  i was inspired to use Twitter as part of my Artivist practice in this work after seeing the documentary about Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei and the way he’s using social media as an arm of his conceptual public art projects.

Why do you think mujer_cita_MIA is important in today’s world?

In my opinion, the Paradigm Shift that the Mayas predicted for this New Age is precisely this: Feminism, or the reclaiming of the female force on our planet. I think feminism is truly the path to revolutionary change on earth. Gender discrimination is the oldest and most pervasive oppression known to humanity. If we can uproot and change this, we can arrive at true equality among all humans, across all barriers.  

We cannot arrive at Humanism while more than half of all humans are still lacking basic human rights and dignity, while more than half of all humans live under the constant threat of gender violence. This is the first step to an egalitarian, humanist society.

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NWM 2013: A Proper Marriage/My Eyes Move You: Retrospective

NWM 2013: A Proper Marriage/My Eyes Move You [Retrospective]” published in Tropicult.com

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Surrounded by sculpture and art, black-clad female dancers, in leggings and leotards twisted and turned through a make-shift stage, on the marble floors of the museum’s main room. Unlike your ordinary dance performers, these dancers had musical sheet compositions duct-taped to their backs. Male musicians, also in black, followed them, playing their instruments.

      A violin, a trumpet,  a voice…

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There was a seductive undertone between the male musician and the receptive female, undulating to his lead. An opera singer, with a deep, strong tenor voice  overpowered one dancer.  Subdued, she fell to the ground.  The music stopped.  He then thrust her around so he could again see the music sheet on her back. If the dancer turned her back on the musician, making the composition sheet invisible to the player, the music stopped. Without human movement and emotion, music dies.

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Another dancer broke down, weeping in response to the beautiful, elegiac, sounds of Victor Young’s trumpet composition, “Stella by Starlight.”  She was given a loud applause by an audience of about fifty people.

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The performance portrayed the energy behind making music as masculine vs. receiving it. It would be interesting to see the relationship between a female musician and a male dancer.  Some may argue making music is not always masculine. Some instruments, like the harp, are more feminine.

“I wanted to explore the relationship between sound and movement.” Pioneer Winter

I met Pioneer Winter, choreographer of “A Perfect Marriage,” at the live exhibition of “A Perfect Marriage/My Eyes Move You.” When asked what inspired the piece, he said, “I wanted to explore to the relationship between sound and movement.”

In the spirit of interactive film, “My Eyes Move You,” a film co-created by the Indie Film Club played in the background. Close-up shots of musicians’ naked eyes reading and playing Cole Porter’s “Easy to Love”  were portrayed.  Through this aspect, the relationship between reading and playing musical compositions was further explored.

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The event is part of New Work Miami 2013, the museum’s current, experimental exhibition. NWM 2013 is an ode to the city of Miami and its artists. Developed by SPRING BREAK, a Miami-based collective, the exhibition echoes the vibrant, collaborative art scene flourishing in the city.

It is on display at the MAM until June 2, 2013, when the museum will reopen as the Perez Art Museum Miami in downtown Miami’s Museum Park.

To read more about this exhibition, check out New Work Miami 2013.