Fountainhead Biennial II: Last Days of a House in Hyperallergic

October 8, 2023


Alexandra Martinez

Hyperallergic features Emerson Dorsch’s FOUNTAINHEAD BIENNIAL II: The Last Days of a House. 

Further south in Little Haiti, at Emerson Dorsch Gallery, alumni of Fountainhead’s residency program are grappling with similar ideas of displacement, loss, and home in their second biennial exhibition, Last Days of a House. Tyler Emerson-Dorsch, a partner at Emerson Dorsch Gallery, says the title is not related to the closure of the studio, but the sentiments evoked mirror the reality that the studio artists are facing.

Curated by Omar López-Chahoud, better known as the artistic director of Miami’s Untitled art fair, the show features 20 previous Fountainhead residents from 12 countries. The month-long residency, in operation since 2008, offers participants a direct connection to the local ecosystem of artists, galleries, and collectors in a mid-century Morningside home. During their stay, they are given space to collaborate with their peers, and engage with the local artist community by way of intimately curated excursions throughout the city. At the end of their stay, Mikesell hosts an open house during which Fountainhead members and locals are invited to engage with the artists.

“At Fountainhead, we do it as much for the artists as we do for the community,” said Nicole Martinez, associate director of Fountainhead. “It really is meant to be a symbiotic exchange of experiencing Miami, and feeding off of the environment authentically.”

Last Days of a House took its inspiration and ethos from an eponymous poem by Cuban author Dulce María Loynaz. Published in 1958, the poem is narrated from the perspective of the house — a fitting tribute to the Fountainhead home. Loynaz paints the house with human characteristics: A house can be very much alive, carrying with it the energy of those who lived with and off of it.

At a moment when Fountainhead Studios is shuttering its doors, its residency program remains a keystone feature in the city’s cultural fabric — a launching pad for artists to collaborate and explore their crafts while bringing international artists and dialogue to locals. Just as Loynaz’s poem posits that she is who she is because and regardless of her ephemeral house, the works in the exhibition are a testament to Fountainhead’s ability to cultivate artists’ strengths. A home, perhaps, exists within the self.

“How do we create connections that have these ripple effects beyond anything we could ever imagine? It’s what happens when you bring human beings together in a respectful and passionate and engaging way,” Mikesell said. “It opens doors and creates new opportunities that you just can’t crack. They only happen organically.”



July 26, 2023

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