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Changes And A New Exhibit Underway At Coral Springs Museum Of Art

Caitie Switalski Muñoz
Jill Brown was named the new director of the Coral Springs Museum of Art in July 2020.

Many changes are underway at the Coral Springs Museum of Art. There's a new spring exhibit on display and the museum has a new director.

The museum recently did away with admission fees. It's expanding its class offerings, changing its summer camps and extending its hours.

Those are just some of the initiatives Coral Springs Museum of Art Director, Jill Brown, is switching up.

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Part of the effort is to make it safe in a COVID-19 world for people to come to the museum — think temperature checks, capacity caps and social distancing. Brown came from Arts Warehouse, an arts incubator in Delray Beach, and started this job in Coral Springs in July — the peak of the pandemic last summer.

"I think I can do this. You know, let's do this together, let's do something people are excited about," Brown said about working with the city of Coral Springs.

The city commission took over control of the museum's board of directors in 2019, before the pandemic hit. Prior to the city taking it on, the museum was running as a struggling nonprofit.

Now, Brown's back in person with her new team and staring to change the programming.

"I feel artists can have true expression here," said photographer Cheryl Maeder. This past January, she had a retrospective exhibit at the museum, called "Supernatural," and noted that now she feels the museum is more "interactive" for artists.

"We just have a lot of things happening," Brown said. "We're looking at options where there might be a youth class and an adult class happening at the same time so the parents can take a class while their kid's in a class — you know we're looking at things like that.``"

The Museum's spring exhibit currently on display is called: "Diaspora In A Time Of Change."

The exhibit includes South Florida artists as well as artists' work from Israel and Cuba along with Black and Jewish perspectives, among others. The aims to show how many different cultures intersect and what shared experiences different groups of people that move have with each other.

Symphonii Smith-Kennedy is an arts student home from Maryland during the pandemic. She has an oil painting in the Diaspora show. A Black woman wearing Egyptian jewelry — her red curly hair goes against a green background.

"I think it shows more to, like, where the cross features of cultures really exist. I think it's nice to have a queer, Black representation, " Smith-Kennedy said.

Caitie Switalski Muñoz
Symphonii Smith-Kennedy stands with her oil painting, a portrait of her friend in a series about Witches, in the Diaspora show at the Coral Springs Museum of Art.

Smith-Kennedy also said it's been difficult to find affordable studio space close to her to do her artwork during the pandemic, since she doesn't really drive.

"It's pretty hard. I'm living in Tamarac right now with my aunt and her family and like, the closest affordable studio, I'd still have to pay for more probably getting there instead of it just being me painting and me paying for rent..."

Smith-Kennedy said she's looked into the Zero Empty Spaces artist studio initiative in Broward County, but "if you have transportation is the real question," she said.

The Diaspora show is particularly timely for artist Sonia Baez-Hernandez. She was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in Puerto Rico. Baez-Hernandez now lives in Homestead and submitted her interdisciplinary installation to the museum and it received Best In Show.

Caitie Switalski Muñoz
Artist Sonia Baez-Hernandez stands with her Best In Show piece at the Diaspora show at the Coral Springs Museum of Art.

The piece is a series of women's body suits decorated and hanging on flagpoles. With each bodice, Baez-Hernandez tackles female diasporas and different historical diasporas based on the Black female experience.

"All these groups for example, for me, it was important to talk about their history in the context of diaspora because then they have to formulate a new identity ... what kind of story we could have with people that have been deprived of a story? We start to question the practice of discrimination, racism in this country, hate crimes," she said.

"Diaspora In A Time Of Change" is on display at the museum through May 1. Brown said the museum will switch exhibits every eight weeks or so, as part of their reorganization.