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Immersive installation shows we are 'all part of' the Everglades

Angel E. Valentin
Passages is an immersive installation created by Cornelius Tulloch and presented by AIRIE (Artists in Residence in Everglades) that takes viewers on a journey through the River of Grass at sunset as the landscape transforms in the twilight.

An immersive installation that takes viewers on a journey through the 'River of Grass' from sunset to twilight through poetry, song and visuals was inaugurated during Miami Art Week.

Passages, created by Cornelius Tulloch, is set to be made into a permanent exhibition at a visitor center at the Everglades next year. Its unveiling came as environmentalists in Florida and beyond celebrate the 75th anniversary of the national park.

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Tulloch, the creative director of Artists in Residence in Everglades (AIRIE), said he was inspired by his experience in the program where artists reside in the national park for a month.

“I'm trying to show people that this is an environment that we all should care about because we all are part of it,” said Tulloch in an interview prior to the inauguration. “Our history, our stories, our connections from Miami…it's all part of this ecosystem.”

In its Art Week form, the installation encompassed a room, with videos of the Everglades featuring a song by AIRIE fellow Kunya Rowley and a poem by AIRIE fellow Arsimmer McCoy. It also featured sounds from the park — such as crickets, the river at night and a hand touching the water.

AIRIE plans on making Passages a permanent exhibition at AIRIE Nest Art Gallery in the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center at Everglades National Park around February.

“This exhibition will highlight the passages or connections that the 2022 AIRIE Fellows found and created in the Everglades, along with the unique histories and stories of national landscape,” said Evette Alexander, AIRIE’s executive director.

Passages was launched during the AIRIE Art and Environment Summit that brought the Everglades to Miami Art Week.

“I hope that an activation of this sort can really bring people that haven't touched into the Everglades to get more involved,” said Felicia Biondo, an artist manager in Miami who attended the summit.

The summit hosted conversations about how artists are engaging diverse audiences in environmental issues. Panelists included Reverend Houston Cypress from the Love the Everglades Movement, artist and MacArthur fellow Amanda Williams and University of Southern California School of Architecture professor Milton S. F. Curry.

“You can really affect reality by singing to nature, by bringing your poems, your art, the best of yourself,” Cypress said.

The event also featured Rowley and cellist Portia Dunkley, who performed the piece Dream Variations.

“We [were] excited to bring the magic, wonder stories and cultures of the Everglades to Miami Art Week,” added Alexander, the AIRIE executive director.

Ammy Sanchez is a junior at the Honors College at Florida International University, studying organizational communications.