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Sundial: How hurricanes and shotgun homes shaped this Miami artist's designs

Germane Barnes is a Miami-based artist and assistant professor at the University of Miami School of Architecture.
Cole Ndelu
Courtesy of Germane Barnes
Germane Barnes is a Miami-based artist and assistant professor at the University of Miami School of Architecture.

Germane Barnes witnessed the mad scramble before a hurricane — and he thought about everyone left behind.

Everyone who couldn’t afford to flee in a plane or a car. Those who’d be left behind after a storm, without basic infrastructure. Without electricity or water or cooking fuel. Sometimes for weeks.

He’s thought about people riding a bus through his hometown of Chicago. How little inconveniences add up. A lack of trees for shade. Comfortable benches at a stop. How they act as barriers for the poor to move through the city.

Germane thought about these things like an architect.

On the Jan. 9 episode of Sundial on WLRN, Germane talks with host Carlos Frías about his connection to South Florida. The founder of Studio Barnes has been living and working in South Florida for a decade, where he’s an assistant professor at the University of Miami School of Architecture and the director of their Community, Housing & Identity Lab.

He’s also an artist. Someone who spends his time trying to understand not just physical spaces — but the people and communities who use them. He’s studied the role of the front porch in Black communities. Block parties in big cities. Even incorporated the materials of South Florida shotgun homes into an installation about Black hair.

Kris Tamburello
Courtesy of Germane Barnes
The installation Rock | Roll at the Miami Design District is an homage to South Florida's Caribbean communities.

Germane thinks about all the ways physical architecture influences bigger structures like politics and culture. His art has been displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and right now you can catch his installation titled Rock | Roll at the Miami Design District.

On Sundial's previous episode, on Jan. 5, filmmaker Nancy Spielberg talked about growing up in a movie-making home and Closed Circuit, a film she helped produce that’s screening at the Miami Jewish Film Festival this month.

Listen to Sundial Monday through Thursday on WLRN, 91.3 FM, live at 1 p.m., rebroadcast at 8 p.m. Missed a show? Find every episode of Sundial on your favorite podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify.

Carlos Frías is a bilingual writer, a journalist of more than 25 years and the author of an award-winning memoir published by Simon & Schuster.
Elisa Baena is a former associate producer for Sundial.
Denise Royal produces The Florida Roundup. Her broadcast experience includes writing and producing for NBC’s The Today Show, Weekend Today, Weekend Nightly News, and MSNBC. She also worked as a Writer/Producer for ABC News and Nightly Business Report on PBS.