Performing Arts

A cultural move: Caribbean art celebrated at Caribe Arts Fest in Little Haiti

The third annual Caribe Arts Fest showcased the arts over the weekend at the Little Haiti Cultural Center.
The third annual Caribe Arts Fest showcased the arts over the weekend at the Little Haiti Cultural Center. For the Miami Herald

For the first time in Miami, the Caribe Arts Fest showcased a medley of genres — indie films, music, performance and visual artists. The third annual festival, which opened over the weekend at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, made the move south from Fort Lauderdale this year.

“It’s basically in celebration of the Caribbean and the Americas to bring different nationalities and cultures together all in essence of art,” said Michelle McKoy, who co-founded the festival with David Muir, a photographer, through their organization, the American Art Initiative.

“This festival is really about exposing art and artists of every genre to new audiences,” Muir said. “This is our love project.”

After a one-year hiatus, the duo thought Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood would be the perfect spot to celebrate Caribbean culture.

“The kids and adults are entertained here. I like how they blocked the street and how everything is concentrated in one area,” said Niki Lopez, who was selling paintings at the festival. “I love the multiculturalism of it, too.”

Her 6-year-old son, Marley Abouna, who she named after the late Jamaican music legend Bob Marley, played outside in a Kids Zone before the rain forced everyone indoors Saturday night.

Different bands — performing reggae, hip-hop, funk — along with dub-poetry singers, the No Maddz from Jamaica, performed during the festival, which spanned Friday to Sunday nights.

Musicians sang original songs while also treating the crowd to renditions of Bob Marley’s music. On Friday night, audience members watched a documentary, Latinegra, about the Afro-Latino community. Handmade jewelry and products from boutique art vendors were on sale.

“We’ve gone through many challenges as artists without funding to put on a festival, but the greatest joy is when we get to expose other emerging artists to audiences that they may not have had an opportunity to be exposed to,” Muir said.

“That’s our goal; that’s why we have workshops, film screenings, visual art, performance art,” he said. “There’s no end to what we want to expose.”