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Yanira Collado and Karen Rifas in Diario Las Americas

June 11, 2022

By GRETHEL DELGADO

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“If the world were obvious, art would not exist”, said the philosopher Albert Camus, sure that “art helps us to penetrate the opacity of the world”. With this premise, and the desire to spread artistic appreciation in society, the non-profit organization Oolite Arts inaugurated two visual exhibitions on June 8 that can be enjoyed free of charge.
These are the Lean-To and At The Edge exhibitions , which until September 11 will fill Miami Beach with color and imagination thanks to the gaze of 21 artists . The exhibits will be in spaces 924 and 928 Lincoln Road.

Among the specialists who have overseen the organization of the exhibitions are Leilani Lynch, Amanda Bradley and Dennis Scholl. The latter is president and CEO of Oolite Arts. In fact, Scholl is currently overseeing an expansion of programming and the construction of a new campus in the city of Miami, which they plan to open in 2024. Lean-To is Oolite’s annual artist-in-residence exhibition, adding works by 15 artists based in Miami. The proposal is inspired by the structure of a shed or a protective roof that is sometimes born of improvisation and necessity.

As the release reads, the exhibit “reimagines support systems, ranging from spiritual to environmental to economic, as well as preservation and care. Using various mediums and personal entry points, many works examine how these structures manifest through time and space. Throughout the exhibition, the artists reflect on current events and tangible issues, such as migration and justice.

Leilani Lynch, curator of the show and also part of the Bass Museum of Art, was responsible for putting together the concept of the exhibition during her interactions with the artists while they worked in their studios. As she pointed out, Lean-To “has a double meaning”, as “it is a temporary structure, or a makeshift shelter, and it also leans symbolically towards something in the future”.

He also found that “many of the artists are also thinking about care in some way, either in the rituals they perform for self-care or in their care for the community and the environment.”

Jen Clay, Yanira Collado, Rose Marie Cromwell, Carolina Cueva, co-residents Rev. Houston R. Cypress & Jean Sarmiento, Mark Fleuridor, Friday, Felice Grodin, T Eliott Mansa, Reginald O’Neal, Edison Peñafiel, Ema Ri, Greko Sklavounos and Roscoè B. Thické III are the artists-in-residence showing their work at Lean-To , covering a diverse range of formats and styles.

It is worth noting that some of the artists created works exclusively for this exhibition. For example, Reginald O’Neal was inspired by his father’s prison cell to create his piece. In addition, it presents a garden that as the exhibition progresses will die before the eyes of the attendees. For their part, Ema Ri proposes a still life installation that seeks to activate the senses of the public.

Yanira Collado has transformed part of an installation she made at the Emerson Dorsch Gallery, turning wall sections into an independent sculpture that invites us to reflect on the history and memory that materials and architecture can hold.

As Collado explained to DIARIO LAS AMÉRICAS, his creative process is based on different components: “elements such as ancestral narratives, cultural values, rituals, spirituality and materiality.”

Her piece in the exhibition, Untitled/Penumbras de Ausencia , contains various materials such as carbon paper, textile, oil pastel, paper, drywall , steel, and wood, and represents an effort “to conserve/protect these traditions by highlighting the sacred geometric forms encoded ”.

As she added, “these identity motifs are embedded in carbon paper and textiles. They allude to its essence and serve as an access point to an abstract meditative space. The architectural structure that encompasses the blue textile and carbon paper is a symbolic deposit. It harbors these cultural values.”

“My experience in processing this work was a continuous internal inventory of assembly and subsequent re-assembly of materials that functioned as artifacts, reconciling stories,” she pointed out.

The At The Edge exhibition brings together works by Nathalie Alfonso, Georgia Lambrou, Devora Pérez, Jennifer Printz, Karen Rifas, and Donna Ruff, who base their creations on interdisciplinary, abstraction, and expressionism, with the freedom to assume three-dimensional spaces.

Curated by Amanda Bradley, director of programming at Oolite, and Dennis Scholl, president and general manager of that entity, this women’s exhibition poses a challenge to limits, be they material, process or environment, as a guideline for research. As Bradley noted, “A key component of this exhibition is that abstraction can provide the space to evoke the same deep emotions as more naturalistic works of art.”

One of the six artists in the show, Nathalie Alfonso, described to DIARIO LAS AMÉRICAS that the central axis in her artistic research is “invisible work”, which she described as “an exercise in emotional control”. Thus, the notions of the invisible and the visible become the materials from which she develops her drawings, installations, performances, and videos.

Her large-format piece Anatomy (2022) “is a drawing in graphite and charcoal on the wall, which recreates the illusion of directly seeing the wooden structure inside the wall. It is a hologram of the structure, an invention developed due to the impossibility of knowing exactly the position of the wood behind the sheet of plaster that makes up the wall”.

“The work is an X-ray of the bones (wooden structure) that make up the wall, but it is an invented X-ray, since it is not possible to know exactly how this structure is distributed, nor is it possible to know who built it”, he added.

The drawing, she added, “is made with a technique that reiterates the obsession with rubbing a material that gives a feeling of dirt such as charcoal and graphite, a material that is difficult to keep clean.” In addition, it is a way of highlighting “the invisible physical manual work that thousands of people do every day, in building construction or house cleaning, among others.”

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