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YoungArts alumni show their work in gallery exhibit

YoungArts Foundation, the mentoring and scholarship program for talented teenage artists across the country, has supported the ambitions of thousands of young artists.

And, now, South Floridians can view some of their work in an exhibit, “New Voices: Works by Recent YoungArts Alumni,” at the nonprofit’s Biscayne Boulevard headquarters.

The exhibition is among the first public programs to utilize YoungArts’ new headquarters, the historic former Bacardi building. Since the public galleries opened during last year’s Art Basel, the space has exhibited YoungArts teacher and prominent artist Olafur Eliasson’s “Little Sun Project’’ as well as works by environmental artist Sibylle Szaggars Redford.

“New Voices,” however, is the first exhibition to highlight exclusively YoungArts alumni. Although YoungArts has a large alumni base that spans several decades, almost all the artists presented are from the last two years. The late Carnival Cruise Lines magnate Ted Arison and his wife, Lin Arison, founded YoungArts in 1981.

“It’s always refreshing working with young artists because they keep me on my toes as well, being a visual artist myself,” said YoungArts Master Teacher and Discipline Coordinator Loni Johnson, who curated the show.

Lena Jafery presents her work, “Miss Interpreted,’’ a trio of pageant sashes that riff off on the awards given in these beauty competitions. Instead of titles like Miss Congeniality, she adorns her sashes with charged phrases like “Best American Accent” and “Least Oppressed,” a critique of all-American ideals.

Malaika Temba’s work repeats the same image, the face of a person with the words “Zero Tolerance” overlaying the figure, several times in graphite; the image gets progressively blurrier.

Liana Murray, who attends Yale University, creates works using collage and oil that highlight black beauty. One of her works, an interpretation of the Madonna with child image, depicts the Madonna as black.

Not all of the alumni in the exhibition are strictly visual artists. Many of the works on view are literature from writing alumni, in the form of poems and excerpts from short stories and novels.

Among them is the poem “Western Night-Time Soundtrack” by Laura Ashley, who dreams of going west “to do away with men who don’t get [her] name right” and storm through the area with a vengeance. Another work, “Elephant Grave” by Victoria White, uses the death ritual of elephants as a metaphor for her desire to reunite with a brother.

The exhibition also will be noted on Monday, the day the city of Miami has decreed YoungArts Awareness Day. As part of that, YoungArts will host a citywide series of events featuring performances by recent and prominent alumni.

The day will begin at 9 a.m. with a mural unveiling designed by YoungArts alumni Lee Pivnik and Miami street artist Douglas Hoekzema at the YoungArts headquarters, 2100 Biscayne Blvd. From 12 to 3 p.m., recent music alumni Bradley Parrimore and David Leon will travel around the city in Mini Coopers designed by artist Hernan Bas and YoungArts Artistic Director Frank Gehry, staging pop-up performances alongside hip-hop dancers.The evening will wrap with a salon and performance by renowned violinist Joshua Bell and several YoungArts alumni.

Pivnik, who utilizes digital photography and painting to create his works, is one of a number of alumni who has worked with YoungArts after they finished their program. His designs, a series of 10 works that represent the 10 disciplines that the organization grants awards to annually, will eventually be used in national campaigns and be featured on limited edition merchandise available through the organization’s Zazzle store.

The Miami-based artist says that YoungArts has sought a number of ways to help alumni, including commissioning their work, helping them find job opportunities and establishing connections with stakeholders in the arts world.

“To say they are ‘supportive’ isn’t doing them justice. They’re essentially investing in my future,” said Pivnik.

If you go

‘New Voices: Works by Recent YoungArts Alumni’

When: Runs through Sept. 12

Where: YoungArts Campus, Tower Building, 2100 Biscayne Blvd., Miami

Gallery Hours : 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesdays-Fridays. Weekends: By Appointment Only.

For information, contact info@youngarts.org or 800-970-ARTS (2787)

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