In Miami

5 artists whose work you have to see during Miami Art Week

Dara Friedman with her art. Photograph by Carina Mask.
Dara Friedman with her art. Photograph by Carina Mask.

With hundreds of artists and galleries showing their work during Art Basel and Miami Art Week, here are five  including three locals — to put on your must-see list. Get to know Dara Friedman, Carmen Smith, Abigail DeVille, Ania Jaworska and Claudio Castillo. 

1. Dara Friedman

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Dara Friedman. Photograph by Carina Mask.

From: Miami by way of Germany.

Art: Film.

Showing At: Art Basel Miami Beach, December 7-10, and Pérez Art Museum Miami, through March 4. 1901 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach;; 1103 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami;

What do you hope people will learn from your Perfect Stranger, PAMM’s largest exhibition to date of a Miami artist? “What I want is for people to simply come. The work is experiential and physical, and you have to physically be there to understand it. Being there in person is the only chance you have of allowing yourself to see and feel.” 

How did you get into structural filmmaking? “I met Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch when I was 20, at the Summer Academy in Salzburg. I told him what I actually wanted to do was make films, and he told me I should call his friend Peter Kubelka. So I did. I didn’t really understand this sort of filmmaking at first. The idea was not that a work was judged good or bad, but rather the sense of does it stand up and stay standing?”

How can Miami continue to evolve in its arts and culture? “As an artist, you trust your instincts, work very hard to honor and respect those instincts, and then fully commit to the process. I would say the same holds true for a city. It’s a process of both discipline and trust.”

2. Carmen Smith

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Carmen Smith. Photograph by Christina Mendenhall.

From: Hollywood.

Art: Contemporary Painting.

Showing At: Superfine!, December 6-10. 56 Northeast 29th Street, Miami;

What about the scenes and structures of South Florida inspire your art? “At Virginia Commonwealth University, I studied Painting as well as Interior Design, so architecture has been a big part of my life professionally. When I arrived in Miami in 2008, I was captivated by the colorful buildings, the creativity in design, and the old and new buildings juxtaposing one another.

“I noticed the light here and how it interacts with buildings. It’s a bright white light, and it makes these great dramatic shadows, especially under awnings. I think identity coheres in places, and people associate emotional and intellectual attachments to places.”

What’s one thing you want people to take away from your work? “I hope to inspire a novel perspective on imagery and occurrences we often observe passively, whether it’s the beauty in simple everyday things or the scenes we try to ignore but need our attention the most.”

Superfine! Creative Director James Miille on Smith: “What first drew us to Carmen’s work was not only her technical skill, but her ability to paint just a sliver of a scene that the viewer could immediately recognize the location, based on the shadows or the colors of the buildings. It almost conveys a realistic impressionism, allowing one or a few elements of a scene to speak for the setting as a whole.”

Beyond Basel: Smith’s paintings are on display at Gallery One Hotel in Fort Lauderdale until March and will be at Superfine! in Mexico City and New York in February and May, respectively.

3. Claudio Castillo

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Claudio Castillo. Photograph by Carina Mask.

From: Miami by way of Cuba.

Art: Digital.

Showing At: InterContinental Miami’s 19-story exterior LED display and lobby, December 7-10. 100 Chopin Plaza, Miami;

What’s it like to have a 200-foot canvas? “Taking over the InterContinental’s digital canvas will be a career highlight, and it just so happens to be in my backyard. I’m thrilled that my fellow Miamians and visitors will get to experience this firsthand during Art Basel, and I’m hopeful that art lovers will step inside the hotel to experience a series of my generative art pieces, which will be in the lobby.”

Tell us about that work: “The Miami moon and tidal phases will be displayed in real time on a large indoor LED tower, while the background is in a generative cycle that will not repeat in approximately 400,000 years. Alongside there will be a frame displaying an assortment of other generative work, and the video screens will display videos of my older generative work.”

And outside? “I hope to display on the outside marquee a generative clock where the viewer can read the time of day, and see the tides and moon of Miami. Every hour on the hour, a different one-minute animation plays, to remind you of the hour.”

InterContinental Miami General Manager Robert Hill on Castillo: “As our city has matured into global arts destination, and the InterContinental Miami has emerged as downtown’s premier arts hotel, it’s only fitting that we are partnering with a local artist like Claudio to showcase his beautiful and thought-provoking pieces on Miami’s biggest canvas during Art Basel.”

4. Abigail DeVille

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Abigail DeVille in front of her sculpture at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Courtesy of the artist.

From: Bronx, New York.

Art: Sculpture.

Showing At: Her installation Lift Every Voice and Sing will be in the Sculpture Garden at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, through October. 61 Northeast 41st Street, Miami;

Why you need to know her: The 36-year-old New Yorker, who earned a BFA from the Fashion Institute of Technology and an MFA from Yale, has been making tsunami-size waves in the art world. Her large-scale installations resurrect forgotten histories of marginalized people who at one time fought to survive in or near the sites where her work is displayed.

How she does it: DeVille first researches the histories of the locations, people and events at the site where her installations will be displayed. She builds on site, using materials that she finds in surrounding streets and dumpsters. Eventually she merges and connects the area’s past, present and shared DNA on a grand scale.   

What this installation signifies: In thinking about my contribution for this inaugural exhibition at ICA Miami, I was very mindful of the myriad kinds of immigrant experiences and clashes of the African diaspora that occur daily in Miami. Lift Every Voice and Sing is the unofficial Black national anthem written by James Weldon Johnson.

The other portion of this new work (amerikanskie gorki) is a reference to the history and development of roller coasters. In Russia they were called American mountains. Splicing this form with the American mountains of discrimination, racism, anti-immigration, which are foundational pyramids in American mythos and pathology.”

ICA Miami Chief Curator and Deputy Director Alex Gartenfeld on DeVille: “Abigail is, without question, a leading artist of her generation. And her approach to sculpture — as a monument, and as a form — is completely unique and her own. This new installation for ICA Miami has entailed incredible research, involving historical research ranging from the Underground Railroad, the invention of the roller coaster and the legal status of recent immigration from Haiti.”

5. Ania Jaworska

Ania Jaworska. Photograph by Zack Ostrowski.

From: Chicago.

Art: Architecture and Design.

Showing At: NADA, December 7-10. 59 Northwest 14th Street, Miami;

Why you need to know her: Jaworska, a native of Poland, teaches at the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago and was a finalist in the 2017 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program. 

How do you use humor in your work? “I like to think that the work I produce is simultaneously funny and serious, simple and complex, familiar and unfamiliar. Conceptual and spatial impact is achieved through a reductive use of form, generating tension between the known and unknown.”

What is your process for connecting art and architecture? “In my practice, a concept can manifest as a model, drawing, screen print, furniture, installation or large-scale structure, depending on the objective. I like to treat objects and drawings as their own independent finished works, but also as proposals and possibilities for other explorations. The link between art and architecture is usually evident through the narrative aspect of the work I produce as well as the precise use of formal language and materials.”

Beyond Basel: “My work is represented by Volume Gallery in Chicago, where you can find works from three different series and scales: SET, Subjective Catalog of Columns and Cynic Architectures.”