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AfriCobra exhibit has brought crowds to North Miami. Now it’s heading to Italy

The “AfriCobra” exhibit at North Miami’s Museum of Contemporary Art is closing a few weeks early. With good reason: it’s been accepted into the prestigious Venice Biennale in Italy.

“AfriCobra: Nation Time” is the second iteration of “AfriCobra: Messages to the People,” showcasing little-recognized but impactful works from members of a 1960s Chicago collective of black artists. “Nation Time” includes works by seven of the 10 artists now on display in “Messages to the People.”

Both were originated and supported by MOCA-North Miami and curated by Jeffreen M. Hayes, Ph.D; the Venice version will be presented by bardoLA. This will be the first major exhibition of AFRICOBRA’s work in Europe and the first South Florida exhibition presented at the Biennale, according to the museum.

The show’s acceptance into the six-month Venice fair represents a significant comeback for the museum, which had an international reputation prior to a 2014 split among the board of directors. A rocky period followed but stabilized after Chana Budgazad Sheldon took over as executive director in 2018.

Budgazad Sheldon said the museum submitted the show to the Biennale and was awarded a 5,000-square-foot space near the Rialto bridge in a historic palace called Ca’ Faccanon.

“We’re thrilled to be able to present on this international platform,” said Budgazad Sheldon. “This exhibition and project reflected what we envision for the museum as an inclusive cultural hub that embraces the diversity that surrounds us in our community.

“This confirms my belief in the transformative power of art,” she said — and the potential of MOCA. “This is just the beginning.”

“AfriCobra: Messages to the People” will close at MOCA on March 24. “AfriCobra: Nation Time” runs in Venice, Italy, from May 11 – Nov. 24.

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Jane Wooldridge, an award-winning journalist and Miami Herald veteran, oversees coverage of real estate, economy, urban development, tourism, cruises, visual arts and Art Basel. She is president-elect of the Society of American Travel Writers. Find her on Instagram @JaneWooldridge.