Standing outside what was once Opa-locka’s Thompson Milton E & Sons Roofing building, curator Tumelo Mosaka said it’s time the community –– and similar communities receiving national attention –– re-explore the social ills that affect residents everyday.
For years now, city leaders have worked to shake the city’s history of crime and violence, and replace it with an image of the Opa-locka of tomorrow –– a place with a thriving middle-class community and a vibrant art scene.
Mosaka said last year the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation’s Art of Transformation exhibit focused on the origins of the neighborhood and the endeavor to redefine the the city’s notorious past. This year, the exhibit, called Through the Eyes of Others opening Nov. 6, will focus on the how artists choose to document these occurrences.
“How does one shift the perceptions of history? Politically, it’s important to intervene and try to change the structural problems, but it’s also important to change perception,” Mosaka said. “One way of doing that is through art.”
The corporation’s President Willie Logan, who has been with the organization since its inception 35 years ago, said areas like Opa-locka will always be subject to speculation. While foreign investors snatch up land in South Florida, communities like Opa-locka, where the real estate is cheap and lush with single-family units, will often see newer and younger families moving in.
“People want to be in an urban environment,” Logan said. “Opa-locka is like many of the neighborhoods in South Florida because the potential for redevelopment is there.”
Logan said the idea of incorporating art into a depressed community isn’t a new idea, but it is a successful one. OLCDC incorporates art into almost every program –– whether geared towards infrastructure, housing, entertainment, health and wellness, education or civic engagement.
“We always have an artist in the room,” Logan said. “Part of it is, they just don’t think like us.”
Artists, Logan said, are socially conscious and aware of their surroundings at all times.
Until Dec. 11, the artists participating in Through the Eyes of Others –– Dread Scott, Bernard Williams, Hank Willis Thomas and Ebony G. Patterson –– will speak at the corporation’s ARC building on issues that re-explore where blackness and art meet community transformation.
“People usually go to South Beach and downtown for art, but never in these undeserved neighborhoods,” said Aileen Alon, OLCDC’s arts & creative industry manager. “To have these types of events where we have world class artists in Opa-locka help people come together in a place where they might not have done.”
If you go
What: ‘Through the Eyes of Others’ opening ceremony
When: Nov. 6 at 7 p.m.
Where: The ARC building on 675 Ali Baba Avenue, Opa-locka, FL 33054
Nov. 7 at 2 p.m. — Artists’ Panel / Meet & Greet at The ARC building on 675 Ali Baba Avenue, Opa-locka, FL 33054
Nov. 11 at 6 p.m. — Film Screening ‘The Interrupters’ at the Center for Social Change on 2103 Coral Way, 2nd Floor, Miami, FL 33145
Dec. 4 at 10 p.m. — VIP Party at The ARC building on 675 Ali Baba Avenue, Opa-locka, FL 33054