With the Arts of Citizenship Graduate Grant, I partnered with Noelle Théard, a Miami-based artist and educator to work on the Miami Art Salon. From our initial meetings until the completion of the project, our ideas constantly evolved to suit the dynamics of the collaborative and experimental processes of bringing artists together to develop new ideas and push the boundaries of artistic and collaborative practices. In this blog entry, I want to talk briefly about our process of generating ideas and how our ideas changed from our initial proposal to the final result of the Miami Art Salon.
When Noelle and I first met to discuss our proposal to the Arts of Citizenship we talked about how we wanted to create a space for artists to meet one another and continue working on their individual projects. As artists both Noelle and I wanted the time and space to conceive new ideas and the collaborative environment where we could develop ideas and projects. Bringing artists together would also move my dissertation research forward because I would be able to participate in a project with a group of artists and learn more about the broader dynamics of art production in Miami. After generating a list of goals, we proposed a series of Art Salons and Workshops. We planned to bring artists together for conversations and hoped to create an environment to support the development of new works. The idea of the “salon” inspired us because of its history as a space for discussion and cultural change. The first three sessions would be dedicated to reviewing each other’s work and discussion, and the last three sessions would be hands-on workshops by local artists to help generate new skills and ideas.
After receiving the Arts of Citizenship Graduate Grant we met with local artists and discussed our ideas. There was a desire to meet other artists and share ideas, but the artists wanted a less structured format. There were already workshops in the Miami area that artists could sign up for to learn skills from figure drawing to creating a web site. The question then became: What could we do that would engage artists and the public in a new and exciting way? The Miami Art Salon was born out of these discussions and instead of having distinct sessions for discussion and workshops we envisioned a new format that would be more collaborative amongst the participants and merge discussion and art practice.
With our new ideas in mind we sent out a call for artists and began our biweekly gatherings from August to November. The Miami Art Salon tagline is “inspire, provoke, and produce,” and we asked the artists to start thinking about ways they could stir the group with thoughts, materials, tools, movements, sounds, words, or anything else they could come up with. Throughout the sessions we discussed what it means to be an artist in Miami, the role of race, class, gender, and sexuality in the political economy of art, Art Basel and its effect on local artists, anthropological practice, the local arts scene, and our own works-in-progress. The work of collaboration intensified a few weeks before our scheduled open to the public event. We even added an additional session to work on the production of collaborative pieces and on the installation of individual works. On November 2, we opened the doors of the Miami Art Salon to the public in an event called “This Place.” It featured the collaborative and individual works of participating artists Angela Valella, Asser Saint-Val, Carol Haggiag, Dinorah de Jesus Rodriguez, Juan Antonio “Erman” Gonzalez, Juan Jose Griego, Kristie Stephenson, Lara Stein Pardo, Nereida Garcia Ferraz, Noelle Theard, Rose Naday Garmendia, Tatiana Silvia Sainz, and Timothy Rush.