During Art Basel A Platform For Social Justice And Black Lives Matter

Dec 2, 2015

As the art world’s eyes are fixated on Miami for Miami Art Week and Art Basel, several galleries and artists are using their platforms to spur conversations around the Black Lives Matter movement, social justice and race.

Yeelen Art Gallery

Credit Courtesy of Yeelen Art Gallery

A curated group exhibit entitled “what’s INSIDE HER never dies...a Black Woman’s Legacy,” explores what it means to be a black woman in the U.S.

“From my own experiences as a black woman in this country, we’re not included in certain feminist movements. We have to be the strong ones, not dainty,” says Karla Ferguson, owner of Yeelen Art Gallery. “I’d like people to recognize the humanistic qualities of black women, the versatility of the black woman.”

Ferguson says the exhibit will also speak to the fragility and resilience of black women.

Among the works on display are portraits of black mothers whose sons were killed by police officers and other acts of violence.

The portraits by artist Sylvia Parker Maier include Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, who was killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman; Valerie Bell, mother of Sean Bell, who was killed by a New York police officer on his wedding day, and Kadiatou Diallo, mother of Amadou Diallo who was shot 19 times by plainclothes New York police officers.

“This is the modern civil rights movement,” says Ferguson talking about protests around the disproportionate rate in which black men are killed by police officers. “These women are appealing to the conscience  of the country. All eyes are on Miami this time of the year. I think this is important that we have this conversation around social justice.”

For more information visit: yeelenart.com

Ward Rooming House Gallery

Credit Cendino Teme

Eric Garner couldn’t breathe, Michael Brown’s body was on the street and as Miami photographer Cendino Teme watched it all unfold on the news, he wondered what his role was in the growing Black Lives Matter movement.

The Haitian-American photographer said he turned to his own backyard to bear witness to and document with his camera the movement in Miami.

“I felt like I had no choice. I was obligated to use my photography for something that was bigger than me," he says.  

Teme’s photography of Black Lives Matter protests in Miami is entitled "No More Blues" and will be on display at the Ward Rooming House in Overtown.

Teme said the images of protesters declaring, “black lives matter,” all over the world made him feel that through unity and persistence change can happen.

“People in London and France and Japan were demonstrating," he says. "White people were protesting with black people. For me that gave me hope. Humanity does stand up and that in itself is pure strength.”

His photos show how Miami united around the cause last year during Art Basel by blocking off streets and highways in "Shut It Down" protests.

“People are being killed unjustly; the system is broken,” he says. “Art can speak to the time an artist lives in and has the ability to spark conversation.”

For more information visit: blackarchivehistoryfoundation.com

Let the Mural Speak: A Spoken Word Experience

Credit Jessica Bal / Miami Herald

"Thunder and Enlightening," a 550-square-foot mural by Miami-based artist Addonis Parker,  covers one side of the One United Bank building in Liberty City.

Parker will unveil a trilogy entitled “Lady Liberty,” a continuation of the mural.  

He says his work is inspired by income inequality, race and current events, specifically the killings of black men.

“Not all of these killings get the same publicity,” he says. “Black lives matter even during Art Basel,  and we have to say that.”

He says Art Basel and the satellite events happening around it provide the perfect venue to address issues in the black community.

“If the world is coming here, this is the platform I have to keep black lives in the spotlight,” he says.

The event will include spoken word  poets Anomoly, Bertran Boyd and Maha Adachi. They will use the mural as inspiration and a backdrop for their performances.

Adachi will perform a piece entitled “Liberty City.”

“We as artists are blessed to have the opportunity to be able to sound the siren of peace and healing," she says.

Adachi adds: “Art is the medium I choose to speak on social justice issues because art delivered from the heart of an artist speaks directly to the soul of the people.”

For more information: oneunited.com