Tuesday, December 29, 2009

DVG featured in Caribbean Art World Magazine

Diaspora Vibe Gallery and interviews Rosie Gordon-Wallace

From CAW, December 13, 2009

Diaspora Vibe Gallery is one of the few non-profit galleries committed to supporting and promoting emerging artists from the Caribbean diaspora and Latin America. The Gallery actively promotes the skills and creative expressions of its artists through the artists-in-residence program, international exchanges, community and youth activities. Artists often call this place "Home," which they define more as a state of mind rather than a physical space.

Full article here.

Read the Rosie Gordon-Wallace Interview Here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

'Native Intelligence' in South Florida Times

'Gallery Adds Caribbean Twist to Art Basel'

by Nicole White

MIAMI — Reggae music blared from the walls of the Diaspora Vibe Gallery. The whimsical collection of art by Aimee Lee rocked with each pulse, seemingly taking on a life of its own. Lee’s collection, called “Native Intelligence,” is a part of the Caribbean Crossroads Series at the Miami gallery owned by Jamaican-born Rosie Gordon-Wallace.

The exhibit features small to large scale pieces of paper – crushed, dyed, appliquéd – in multiple shapes, all suspended from the gallery’s ceiling.

In one, layers of paper flutter like a costumed dress from La Dolce Vita. In another, paper is wetted, and pieces of it are then dried to each other, mimicking the motion of action figures.

“I liked the idea of each piece having a life of its own,’’ said Lee, a New York native born to Korean parents.

Each piece tells a story, a snippet of a story, a thought or an observation that Lee culled during her journey to Korea. There on a Fulbright scholarship, she studied the ancient art of Korean papermaking, a process that helped her connect with her roots and the traditions of her ancestors.

“Paper is so central to human civilization and culture. Korean homes are enshrined in paper. It’s a part of every day life,’’ she said.

That Lee’s collection of spirited pieces found a home at Wallace’s gallery – long dubbed the epicenter of the immigrant art experience – was no accident.

“We courted Aimee for years,’’ Gordon-Wallace said. “We are an immigrant space. Her work is everything we represent – affordable, scholarly. It completely transformed the space, and that is part of the excitement of the work. This show is a global show - Asian, female, immigrant. All of our trigger points are translated here.’’

Diaspora’s mission, after all, says Gordon-Wallace, is to make art affordable, understandable and accessible to anyone willing to embrace it.

As such, shows are intimate affairs that include Caribbean music, food and laughter, a far cry from the austere settings replete with silence that often define traditional galleries.

Lee’s installation, which runs through Dec. 17, coincided with Art Basel, last week’s mammoth display of art from around the world.

The sister show to Switzerland’s Art Basel, the Miami/Miami Beach version has become known for attracting major dealers and collectors, and for showcasing the work of emerging artists such as Lee. The event transforms the city into a weeklong art bacchanal of sorts with endless parties.

But while all the talk and display of art during Art Basel may seem far removed from the lives of many within the African Diaspora, Gordon-Wallace declares the show the single most important event for artists and those who promote the arts.

“I’m happy for the catalyst that Art Basel brings to the art community,’’ Gordon-Wallace said. “Art Basel is the most sophisticated art show in the world, but it is also a business. Why aren’t we positioning ourselves to take advantage of it?”

An art aficionado who has been in the business for 14 years, Gordon-Wallace opened the gallery seven years ago. She says the community benefits from Art Basel if it makes strategic input.

“You get what you put in. I have no problems with Mr. Basel,’’ she said. “When Art Basel leaves, we’re still here, and we invite people to come up these stairs and see the work that is going on here all year round.’’


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Join us for Art Basel Caribbean Fest Breakfast

Please join us this Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings from 9:30-10:30am for our Caribbean Fest Breakfast, a light treat of something tasty and artist's conversation.

And this Friday, December 4th from 5:30-7:30pm is the Art Basel Opening Reception for Aimee Lee's exhibition.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator interviews artist Aimee Lee

installation view of Native Intelligence by Aimee Lee

Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator: Can you talk about the connections you are making between performance, installation and book arts?

Aimee Lee: I had a scholar recently tell me that she felt that my process of making my art and doing my research was itself the performance. I always thought that was cheating, because doesn't everyone have that process? And yet a bookbinder would never call herself a performance artist.

I've been documenting my process for years. And I do it because I work in fields that don't make sense to most people - that only are understandable to those who do it, too, and that's not a lot of people. Painters and writers never have to explain their work. But I've found that taking pictures and shooting video of papermaking, book binding, printing, etc., and showing them to people really help in creating a more invested audience.

I have to say that at heart, I will always be a performer. Not performing on a regular basis and not making performances regularly also affects me: I think that's partly why the work I'm making is getting bigger, and also why it's so labor intensive, because it still requires so much physical energy and stamina. A woman I met in Korea reminded me not to be afraid of learning how to make paper under a difficult teacher, and said, "you have to give up your entire body to learn a craft." So for now, I am sacrificing my entire self in that direction. I think it's the only respectful way to do it.

Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator: Do each of these practices allow you to tell different stories? And what are those stories?

Aimee Lee: I think these practices allow me to tell the same stories in different ways - in hopes that I might reach someone in a book that I might not reach in a performance, and vice versa. The easiest practice for me is to make books, because in my itinerancy, I can do that with a small space and just a few tools. You could say that about performance, but my big hang-up there is that inevitably, the documentation is key, so unless I feel great about my camera and camera person situation, it is a bigger operation.

My new show is all about using hanji to mine my history and ancestry. I've always used my life as subject and inspiration in my work, but in more of a direct storytelling fashion. But this show deals with a more subconscious level of my life, things that are unknown even to myself. I knew that I would have this theatre in Miami to act out my year of Fulbright research in Korea, and that was a great gift for me. Otherwise, I might have ended up not having an adequate way to synthesize my experience, which was hugely important to me. Not only because I was doing research that very few English speakers were doing or had done, but because it was in a field that I care about and in the country of my bloodline. I was finally going to Korea on my terms, as an adult, a scholar, and an artist, not just as a daughter or granddaughter or niece or cousin.

I had no idea what the artwork would look like the whole time I was in Korea. Even when I got off the plane in July after spending a whole year away, I had no idea. I had scheduled a solo residency in August for a month, where I was able to make art all day and not have to see a single person. I lived in a caretaker's cottage on a former farm on current national park land, and worked every day in an attic studio, letting whatever came out of me come out. And it definitely stumped me.

The work at Diaspora Vibe is work I've never made before, never seen before, but I trust it. It came out much larger than I usually work, using iconic imagery and no text, which is a huge departure from what I've done in the past. I should say, though, that right before I left for Korea in 2008, I had taken a fiber arts class with a Korean professor who talked about why she didn't use text in her art: she finds language and words so powerful that they overwhelm her work. I considered the idea a lot after meeting her, and played with not being so text-heavy. Then, going to Korea, I immediately saw also the English-centric nature of using so much text and that it doesn't necessarily translate as well to those who can't read English. So this work is also about reaching a larger audience on a more visceral level.

It's funny: the one book in the show (I was trained as a book artist so it's unusual to only have one book, but it was intentional) is 1. hard to read because it's all different shades of black and grey 2. hard to read because it's unclear how to turn the pages: they open on both sides and 3. dangerous to read because you could easily take a step backwards and fall down the stairs. Appropriately, it's called “In the dark” and comes from precisely that: coming upstairs to the studio one night on an accidental spurt of caffeine from green tea and working at dusk when all the colors start to disappear since there is so little light, and I was just grinding ink and inking paper without knowing exactly how dark the sheets were since those tonal differences are impossible to see in the dark. The text reads:

In the dark
is mostly
for tracks
for the
things only seen by fingertips
things only by memory

I'm not a big color person, but this work surprised me because it was black and white, and mostly black. Very dark. At the opening, I met a papermaker who has been living and working in the area for a long time, and she remarked at all the black tones in the paper, saying that it's hard to make black paper. I had to explain to her that it wasn't black paper; it was paper that had been blackened with ink.

"Gaping" is one series in particular of three pieces that come from the ubiquitous Korean landscape of mountains. I think it's about 70% mountains if not more, and generally very rugged and uneven. But it also came from the idea of openings in these structures. The icons of peaks kept repeating themselves in my sketchbook and around the same time I had a dream where I was having a c-section (I've never been pregnant before), totally awake, and looking down at the incision and seeing nothing but lots of sheer black pantyhose coming out of it. I was thinking, "where's the baby? Why no blood? What's with the hose??" I ended up using a lot of sheer hanji that I had made - and even that came from a "mistake" - that particular paper ended up very thin by accident.

On the whole, though, much of the work mystifies me, but that doesn't worry me. I know that in time I will get enough space to be able to understand what was going on for me at the time and why this work emerged. Part of why it's so dark, wordless, and veiled is that I was thinking a lot about my male ancestry while I was making it, as well as while I was in Korea. I should preface by saying that I am completely at home in my interactions with women and have very deep friendships and mentorships with them. I am really keyed into all the dynamics between mothers and daughters, and get along fine with all of my female relatives. But the men have been more difficult to relate to, partly in my family because they just don't talk. Or at least, they didn't, while I was growing up.

Going back to the Confucian hierarchy, there really was not much that older men had to say to young girls or women besides find a good husband. On top of that, my father was always quiet and rarely spoke. This has changed as he has gotten older, but I was thinking even of my grandfather, and my great uncle, and my uncles, and how I know very little about them and have/had seemingly superficial relationships with them. I was thinking about what I have learned from them through guessing what they were thinking or learning just from their actions or stories about them that I would hear from female relatives. Every family has its own mythology. So what was mine, and how have I been shaped by the men in my life that sometimes seem more absent than present? Not to say that is a negative thing at all: I think absence is a defining presence in most people's lives. And what have I learned from all those quiet spaces? Not empty, but silent.

Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator: Can you talk about your history with Hanji? I know about your research with the Fulbright. Can you tell me a little about how that began for you?

Aimee Lee: I was born in NY to Korean parents, so until I left the home to go to nursery school at four years of age, Korean was my only language. That shifted dramatically once I went to school, and once I got old enough to be embarrassed by being Korean. But my parents always spoke Korean to me and my sister, even though we responded in English. They also sent us to Korea every few summers, but once I got obsessed with becoming a concert violinist, all I did from about 13 years of age was to go to music programs in the summer, not Korea. After seven years of not visiting Korea, I was in a Chinese landscape painting art history class at Oberlin College. One class session was in the college museum, which had just acquired several Chinese paintings on scrolls, and we got to see them in person, while the curator noted that the paper they were painted on was from Korea. I remember this creamy, gold-flecked paper, and the sudden thought, "why am I in this class? I don't know *anything* about Korean art history, or Korean art, or Korea." I went home and called my parents and asked them to send me to Korea that summer so I could re-learn Korean. From that summer on, I only spoke Korean to them, not English. It was a very awkward transition, but I am glad I did it, because it made my recent research all the more possible.

That was when I was 20. I became an art major, graduated, worked for a symphony orchestra, worked as a violin teacher, worked as a grant maker. Still no paper on my mind. But I loved book arts, which I had learned about in my final year at Oberlin, and when I decided to go to grad school, I picked an interdisciplinary one, and it happened to require papermaking as a core class. That was my first semester of grad school, and I was hooked from day one.

Paper has always been important to me, often without me even understanding. From a young age, I always loved paper that was closer to handmade than not. I think that most people feel this way: I have seen countless strangers over the years get excited just seeing handmade paper, and even more so when they touch it. That would be one of the major reasons that I am so drawn to it: tactility. Paper doesn't make any sense if you don't get to touch it. And since I work so intensely with my hands, paper is ideal for me because it requires so much labor just to make.

I may sound like a one-note character, which makes me laugh, because I have been accused my whole life of being a dabbler, of trying too many things, of wanting to do too much. I started out thinking I was going to be a concert violinist, and then a conceptual artist, and then a book artist, and perhaps a dancer of sorts, and definitely a performance artist, and then maybe even a writer. When I first met papermaking, everything came together. Instant love was a plastic apron, my hands in a huge vat of cold water, and pulp everywhere. But I think my life led to this.

Water: I grew up along a river that I never fully appreciated until I went away to a landlocked college. Discipline: I am accustomed to rigorous physical practice, either with my body or in tandem with an instrument. Labor: I have always loved to work, and work hard. Hands: I call them magic hands. I could never live without them, and they always stay busy. They have seen me through the biggest traumas of my life, weaving and knitting when I couldn’t sleep, making things to express otherwise inexpressible things. Books: I have always loved to read. My mother never trusted babysitters, so she would send us to the public library next door when we were young. I can’t imagine a better way to grow up than next door to a public library. I love to make books, gift them, and use them. And books are made of paper, including the ones with music printed all over them. Nature and sustainability: Paper comes from plants. And learning the cycles of plants, when to harvest, how to cook, how to make ash water to cook the plants, which plants will yield what kind of fiber or dye, is all intrinsically tied up in the land and how we care for it. In the past, paper was made by farmers, and for good reason. Performance: Papermaking uses the whole body, and its product can clothe and adorn the body, create spaces for it to move through, and act as props to communicate with others.

The last thing I want to mention about performance is that it is inextricably connected to ritual, intention, and meaning. In that way, it keeps me grounded, and in a way that I know has grounded people from the beginning of human existence. The best performances for me connect me to myself and the rest of the world around me - a reminder that we are all connected, even though we almost never feel that way.

Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator: Can you talk about your relationship to diaspora? I love how Rosie Gordon-Wallace speaks about concepts of diaspora as complex and multi-layered and am curious to hear your perspectives.

Aimee Lee: For a long time, diaspora for me was only linked to west African dance, and to an African diaspora. I did my undergraduate semester abroad in Kingston, Jamaica, and that was another opening for me to realize that the African diaspora in the US was only a very small piece of it.

I really can't remember when I realized that diaspora was much more inclusive than that, and I know that I only recently began to identify as part of a Korean diaspora. I think that my assumption was that diaspora could only refer to those who still had strong communities outside of their homelands, and because I had grown up in such a white American suburb with only one other Korean family in the village, I didn't think I counted. But that's not how I think today, and that's what I love about the word: the scattering about is so wide and huge. It's not just a very concentrated effort in one place - it spreads out even wider than its place of origin. And yet you know that you still have a place of origin, no matter how far away it is - in space, time, history, or blood.

Mostly, my relationship to diaspora has been about a kind of freedom - a freedom to live the way I choose because I am removed from the culture my parents were born into. Yet as I return more to Korea and do the research I am doing, I realize that my freedom comes with a responsibility to be respectful, and that it only comes because of the choices that my parents made. My path has been similar to many children of immigrants: I pulled far, far away from the original culture, and then came back, but on my terms and on my own road. This is the most important part of diaspora to me: that it is about the roundtrip, not just the initial spreading out from center. It is about every party benefitting from the dispersion, and about worldviews widening as a result.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Patricia Roldan's paintings featured at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Patricia Roldan exhibits at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

When: Friday, November 20 - Sunday, November 22, 2009
When: 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM
Where: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
The Ramble is South Florida's most loved and oldest garden party. Come and experience a blend of old traditions and new introductions with Nell's Tea Garden, the largest plant sale in South Florida, antiques and collectibles, garden themed art, old and rare books, our famous Kid Way, live music and the incredible ramble raffle.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Join us for the opening of Native Intelligence by Fulbright Scholar Aimee Lee

Pastorale, 2008
Handmade Cattail Paper, Thread, KnittedRamieThread

Exhibition Dates:
October 8, 2009 - December 17, 2009

Opening Reception:
Thursday October 8, 2009, 7-10pm
Artist Talk: Saturday, October 10, 2009, 2-4pm

(Miami, Florida) September 26 – Diaspora Vibe Gallery is pleased to present Hastings grad’s Fulbright Scholar as she extends her paper trail to her debut Miami solo exhibition of reflections on paper and recent work. Her medium is pulp; the vehicle is water-dipping, beating sifting. She has recently completed a year of Hanji history, practice and contemporary research in Korea where as a Fulbright Scholar she learned this ancient art of papermaking. Her book-making, installation performance artwork uses paper that distinctly takes on a life of its own. Native Intelligence presents new artworks that reside primarily in tradition and generational memory made tactile and texture-filled from the outcome of this ancient Hanji practice. Curated by Rosie Gordon -Wallace, Native Intelligence examines Aimee Lee’s journey with paper.

“I am an Interdisciplinary artist working across performance, installation and book arts media, interested in personal story telling “ Aimee Lee states, continuing to share that her work has covered topics of human intimacy, internal defenses and the isolating properties of language. She uses found objects, and sustainable practices that include papermaking from local plants and clothing that would otherwise occupy landfills. The ideas behind each piece dictate its fiber content. Aimee has created new works for this exhibition using the traditional Hanji history papermaking practice in contemporary ways.

“There is a certain freedom, sense of play, fantasy, and physical repetition that is associated with paper making that allows her to create a medium that supports their personal narratives”, states curator Rosie Gordon –Wallace “This art jumps off the page and walls and exists in real time. This artist actively inserts herself into the foreground, instead of the background, and challenges traditional representations of figure, background, and object.” Gordon Myers co-curator and Entertainment Director of Diaspora Vibe Gallery states, “This is the first time that Diaspora Vibe has devoted a complete exhibition to the art of paper making. It speaks to a need to address how many artists are actively utilizing these genres to redefine personal definitions of Diaspora, through examinations of their own bodies, geographies and borders. Native Intelligence frames the conversation around the new social and cultural spaces that many artists of color and immigrant artists are creating while revisiting cultural traditions and transforming the media into contemporary forms”

Diaspora Vibe Gallery is located at 3938 N. Miami Avenue in the Design District. Gallery hours are 11am – 6pm, Tuesday through Friday with appointments on Saturdays. For further information please call Diaspora Vibe at (305) 573-4046 or visit http://www.diasporavibe.net/, http://www.diasporavibe.blogspot.com/, http://www.diaweb.diasporavibe.net/, www.flickr.com/photos/diasporavibe. Diaspora Vibe Gallery is a multi-disciplinary art space serving as a laboratory for emerging artists of the Caribbean Diaspora and other artists of color, providing them with a contemporary sensibility to explore and experiment with new forms and cultural themes.

Papermaking in Korea from Aimee Lee on Vimeo.

Support for Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator is provided in part by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Artography, LINC , funded by the Ford Foundation, Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners, Dade Community Foundation, Funding Arts Network, National Performance Network / VAN Gift of Carl and Toni Randolph Family Foundation, Brugal Rum, and The Buddy Taub Foundation. Founded by its current Director/Curator, Rosie Gordon-Wallace in 1996. Diaspora Vibe is currently celebrating its 13th anniversary.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Reprocess Opens this Friday, October 2, 2009

Join us this Friday, October 2, from 6-9pm
for the Opening of Reprocess
as part of Diaspora Vibe Gallery's Off the Wall Experimental Series

Thursday, September 24, 2009

2009 MacArthur Fellows Announced

Congratulations Edwidge Danticat!

View 2009 MacArthur fellows.

from Books and Books in Coral Gables:

We at Books & Books – and, we can safely say, readers everywhere – send the heartiest congratulations to our dear friend Edwidge Danticat for winning one of this year’s MacArthur “Genius Awards.”

The MacArthur Fellows Program describes itself as intending “to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations” – and it comes with a no-strings-attached $500,000 grant.

And as we in Miami know, it could be in no more deserving hands. As the MacArthur Foundation so accurately describes, Edwidge uses “graceful, deceptively simple prose” to provide “a nuanced portrait of the intersection between nation and diaspora, home and exile, and reminds us of the power of human resistance, renewal, and endurance against great obstacles.”

The MacArthur Fellows Program has more than 100 nominators chosen “on the basis of their expertise, accomplishments and breadth of experience.” These people nominate the most creative people they know. The three criteria: “exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.”

From those Fellow profiles: “ Edwidge Danticat is a novelist whose moving and insightful depictions of Haiti ’s complex history are enriching our understanding of the Haitian immigrant experience. In works that chronicle the lives of ordinary Haitians, she evokes themes of family, isolation, and community that, while grounded in a specific cultural milieu, resonate with a wide range of audiences.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

This Saturday, September 26: Seize the Pen: A Writing Workshop for Women with Dr. Marva McClean

Seize the Pen & Explore the Artist Within
A Workshop of Empowerment for Women
Diaspora Vibe Gallery
When: Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009, 12-3pm
Presenter: Dr. Marva McClean

A participative workshop where we come together, engaging in diverse writing stages, exploring the impact of history and family life on the unique development of ourselves. Participants will produce empowering products such as journals, essays, memory books, poetry, and photo journals.

Session One – Telling Our Stories in Our Own Words

• Write to discover themselves & investigate their capacity, expressing
their inner selves in diverse ways, sharing anguish and joy that are indelible parts of life’s journey

• Explore creative/artistic ways to share and harvest the gifts we carry

• Explore crossing borders, challenging colonial and post colonial conceptions of who we are, re-writing notions of friendship, power and success

Session Two - My Other Selves
Use photos and personal objects as cues, exploring multiple positions women assume and occupy as citizens in a community - mother, daughter, partner, parent, friend, grandmother, godmother, aunt. We will seek answers to the questions: What are the selves we nurture, or ignore? How do we sustain and energize our multiple selves, staying true to ourselves?

• Investigate photos as voice
• Interrogate creative ways of disrupting censorship and taboos relating
to our gender and religious, political, ethnic and sexual selves
• Investigate the spiritual dimensions of self expression and identity

REGISTER by contacting Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator
3938 North Miami Avenue,
Miami, FL 33127
ph 305-573-4046

Suggested contribution: $50 per participant as a fundraiser for Diaspora Vibe Gallery, which has, and continues playing an integral role in the development of our arts community, providing a place of artistic expression and empowerment for all.

Please share the workshop with other friends and colleagues. If you are unable to attend, please offer support by contributing and/or sponsoring a friend, especially a young [er] lady.

(credit cards, pay pal, checks and cash accepted)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Save the date: Miami's Accelerating Caribbean Connections moderated by Elisa Turner

'Miami's Accelerating Caribbean Connections'
panel moderated by Elisa Turner
featuring Rosie Gordon-Wallace among others
Wednesday, October 28, 2009, 6pm
at Books & Books in the Gables
sponsored by Art Table

follow Elisa Turner’s blog

Performance Collaboration with Ayanna Jolivet-Mccloud and Wura-Natasha Ogunji: one hundred black women, one hundred actions

materialize breath by blowing onto mirror, Ayanna Jolivet-Mccloud

one hundred black women, one hundred actions is a performance of critical actions, gestures and movements by one hundred black women from around the world to be documented then performed by one hundred black women in various public and private sites.

Through physical actions which are recorded here: http://onehundredactions.wordpress.com/ in various forms as photographs, drawings, video and written descriptions, the public can respond to the following question: “What is a gesture of personal power, an extreme action that is necessary in your daily life?” From these actions, Jolivet-Mccloud and Ogunji will choreograph 100 movements to be taught to and then performed live by 100 black women at the first site, TBA. It is their desire to invoke collective strength through a work which specifically aims to locate the presence of black female bodies as central, political, powerful forces in the world.

To participate in one hundred black women, one hundred actions send documentation of a critical action, gesture or movement, which answers the following question: “What is a gesture of personal power, an extreme action that is necessary in your daily life?”

Your physical action can be recorded as a photograph, drawing, video or written description. Send to: onehundredactions@gmail.com. Be sure to send the name of your action, your location, and website if you have one.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Cortando, Cociendo y Recordando by Ermán

Casas Estables
Cortando, Cociendo y Recordando

September 26 – December 17, 2009

West Dade Regional Library

9445 Coral Way, Miami, FL


Reception with performance and artist’s talk:

Wednesday September 30, 6-8:30pm

Cortando, Cociendo y Recordando is a site-specific installation, curated by Rosie Gordon-Wallace, that is also a survey of Erman’s work from 2000 to the present. Erman creates evocative environments and artists’ books using a lyrical vocabulary of images and metaphors: sewing objects, handwritten text and handmade garments, shoes, and houses empty of their wearers or inhabitants. The work alludes to familiar narratives of migration, exile, up-rootedness, transculturalism, and displacement.

About the artist: Juan A. Gonzalez, better known as Erman, was born in Cuba in 1956 and has lived in exile in the United States since 1969. His first career was as a designer in the fashion industry; his transition to visual artist began in 1989, when he began to meld fashion, sculpture and fiber art. Erman is concerned with blurring the traditionally Western divide between art and craft, and his work addresses the personal and universal effects of migration, up-rootedness, religion, matriarchy and transculturalism. He is the recipient of residencies and fellowships at the Vermont Studio Center; Instituto Sacatar in Itaparica, Brazil; and Art Center South Florida. Erman has been an invited guest artist, instructor, and lecturer at the National Art Gallery in Nassau, the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, and Colorado State University's Art and Consumer Sciences Departments. He was recently a guest lecturer and workshop instructor at Broward College in Davie, FL in conjunction with Cortando, Cociendo y Recordando, a traveling survey exhibition of his work from 2000 to the present, curated by Rosie Gordon-Wallace. In 2008, the show traveled to Lincoln Center in Ft. Collins, CO. Erman has taught fiber art to children from underserved local schools as well as adults and children living with special needs. He is represented by Diaspora Vibe Gallery and his work is in many private and institutional collections.

For more information about upcoming exhibitions and programs at the Miami-Dade Public Library System, check out: http://mdpls.org/news/exhibitions/exhibitions.asp

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Jean Chiang featured in 'Tea, Glorious Tea'

Jean Chiang featured in Tea, Glorious Tea
at Revolution Gallery in Kingston
Aug 27-Sept 26, 2009

maps, tea leaves

Read more about the exhibition here in the Jamaica Observer. Below, Jean Chiang offers her eloquent statement about the show.


It is believed that the art of tasseography or reading tea leaves began with Buddhist monks. The monks would drink tea to stay awake during long hours of meditation. While meditating and looking into the bottom of an empty tea cup, the monks noticed patterns or symbols and began to “read” tea leaves.

The practice continued through the years and after tea was introduced to Europe, in the 1700’s, high tea in the afternoon, followed by tea parties and reading tea leaves became very popular.

In April, 2008, Rosie Gordon Wallace, Diaspora Vibe Gallery artists including Danny Ramiriez, Rodney Jackson, Erman Gonzalez, Alejandro Contreras, Gordon Myers and I, to name a few, were hosted by Deborah Jack and local artists, Lucinda Audain, Norma Trimborn and others in St. Maarten for the Second International Artists Biennial. Several artists and scholars were also invited, including Irene Peterson of Aruba, Jennifer Schmidt of Curacao, Christopher Cozier of Trinidad and last but not least, Carol Campbell of Jamaica. Imagine my delightful surprise when I was informed that Carol and I would be roommates for a few days !!!

Our artwork was installed at The Cultural Center with assistance by its artist/director Youmay Dormay with artwork by local artists. The opening and workshops on the following days were well attended and enjoyed by all.

Every evening, we would end the day with a group dinner with conversations reviewing the daily events, anticipating the next day, catching up with friends that we hadn’t seen or connecting with new friends we had just met. These evenings were as important as the artwork, the exhibits and workshops during the Biennial.

One evening, we decided to dine in the Chinese resaurant across the street from the hotel, The Prasangrahm or the former Govenor’s Palace. We sat at a large round table, about 12 of us, ordered many different dishes and had a delicious dinner. Of course, Chinese tea was served with the meal. Carol and I were seated next to each other. After dinner and finishing our tea, we noticed the loose tea leaves at the bottom of our cups and indulged in an attempt at tasseography !!! Carol looked at my tea leaves and if I remember correctly, she saw a flying figure. Alright, I thought, I always wanted to fly ! I looked at Carol’s tea leaves and saw a floral pattern, something more decorative than figurative. Carol thought that was agreeable. The evening continued and we enjoyed a few more readings around the table.

The art of tasseography is still practiced widely and taken quite seriously by its followers, using special teas, cups and study of its philosophy. For me, it is another form of meditation, a moment of reflection and insight inspired by a visual form. It is similar to looking at clouds in the sky, at trees and rock formations in nature or even ink blots. A form inspires a thought.

READING TEA LEAVES is a series of 6 canvases, 5” in diameter, painted, beaded and stitched. Three of them suggest green tea with symbols of a spiral or creativity, a horse shoe or good luck and a wavy line or water or purification. Three of them suggest black tea with symbols of a circle with a dot in the center or the sun or energy, diagonal lines or travel and a crescent moon or receptivity.

Many thanks to Carol Campbell, Diane Wright and Revolution Gallery for continuing the tradition of Tea, Glorious Tea. This is the third time that I have participated in this exhibit with special thanks to Rosie Gordon Wallace and Diaspora Vibe Gallery in Miami, Florida.

--Jean Chiang, c.2009


Saturday, August 29, 2009

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Clay Exhibition Afterparty featuring the HONGS

Please join us for the afterparty:
Friday, August 21, 2009
8-10pm at AE DISTRICT
3852 N. Miami Avenue
for the live performance and CD release party
featuring the HONGS



Sunday, August 16, 2009

Clay Exhibition Opening this Friday, August 21st

Please join us this Friday, August 21st, 2009
from 7 – 10pm for the opening of
Clay: New Works, with Caroline Holder
and Conversations with Clay
featuring Jean Chiang, Erman Gonzalez, Michael Layne, Rodney Jackson, and Annemiek van Kerkhof–Posthuma


Monday, August 10, 2009

Reflections on ‘Low Lives’ Exhibition by Rosie Gordon-Wallace and Ayanna Jolivet McCloud

Kelly Kleinschrodt- Video still from Jump

Low Lives, a one-night exhibition of live performance-based works transmitted via the internet and projected in real time was presented this past Saturday, August 8, 2009 simultaneously at Diaspora Vibe Gallery in Miami, FiveMyles in Brooklyn, and labotanica in Houston in partnership with Project Row Houses.

Low Lives 'Choreographic Dialogues'

by Rosie Gordon-Wallace

Sergio Lamanna- Video still from Monumento al Cuerpo Manipulable

There was an excitement in the space because most of us were experiencing this format of viewing video that "embraces works with a lo-fi aesthetic such as low pixel image and sound quality, contributing to a raw, DIY and sometimes voyeuristic quality in the transmission and reception of the work" as described by curator Jorge Rojas, for the first time.

Committed and engaged were a mature group of visitors who were intrigued with the process, and had dialog about the new formulation and media. The ability to truly engage each other with immediacy and global impact.

I agree with Ayanna Jolivet Mcloud that Rosamond King's video - "supplicant"was visually engaging and compelling. Her performance was powerful and created a connection to her actions and an emotional connect to global politics. Videos that stood out and garnered laughter and oohs! were the naked swinger, not because we understood his intentions, but primarily because we were waiting for something to happen, so had our audience looking for more rather than asking for more. Jump by Kelly Kleinschrodt was interesting and "An on line introduction to Midnight Gardening" by Erik and The Animals. Adam Trowbridge - Hole of Society : On the Passage of a Small Dog through a rather Shallow amount of water - funny.

Jorge Rojas must be congratulated for curating this project. The organization that this project required and the commitment to see it through at Five Myles and Project Row Houses must be commended. The play list was synchronized and the videos varied and interesting for the most part. Many attendees wanted information on where the videos were taking place, geography on the play list is recommended for future projects.

Abby Donovan- Video still from Lowering NOW to the Ground

Low Lives, what was gained, lossed and remembered

by Ayanna Jolivet McCloud

(originally published by Ayanna Jolivet McCloud on labotanica's blog)

Working at an organization devoted to Creative Music (Nameless Sound), I’ve gotten more in tune with improvisation and how the music is very much about the process of figuring it out in front of the audience. In this spontaneity and transparency, the work can be very raw, emotional, awkward, and present.

Last night labotanica presented Low Lives at Project Row Houses. The show was curated by artist Jorge Rojas, and essentially after sending out an international call for proposals, he selected 31 artists living in different places around the world working with performance. He asked them to transmit 2-5 minute performances over the web live on USTREAM, which were then projected into three venues around the country— Project Row Houses in Houston presented by labotanica; FiveMyles in Brooklyn; and Diaspora Vibe Gallery in Miami. There were a lot of players involved and this was the first time that Jorge had curated this sort of a show.

Eseohe Arhebamen Edoheart- Video still from Fire Butoh 3 (excerpt)

The show was about the transmission of an idea and what gets lost, blurred, gained and sometimes misconfigured through technology, and also the low-fi DIY quality that is often present in a lot of the ways we communicate via technology. It was obviously about our connections beyond borders, often via technology. Another theme explored seemed to be how we presently communicate and present ourselves, and the filters that are often involved in this. In the show, there were the filters of technology, the curator, the presenters and more that I’m sure I might be missing.

labotanica is about rethinking traditional formulas, valuing processes over products, and in exposing processes being open to exploration and collaboration. Low Lives wasn’t as polished as a traditional “exhibition” or “screening” might be. To be honest, for me as a presenter, it was very awkward, raw, and transparent. It wasn’t easy, and I think that while we were pretty prepared, we were figuring a lot out as we presented. I think this was also a part of the show.

All of the artists had an allotted time to perform for 2-5 minutes and Jorge would chat with them online to give them the cue to start. The three presenting organizations and the curator were also communicating via online chat and phone texts. Also some of the artists (and USTREAM users) were viewing each others performances online and commenting on each others performance by chatting. The artists, presenters, and curators were all working it out, and obviously there were some awkward and in between moments that might go smoother if we were to present this another time, but it also activated me in a way that a more slicker presentation might not. I felt very raw, exposed, and vulnerable in presenting this show and it also sparked something in me to continue exploring open-ended processes through labotanica and as an artist.

Bishop Bishop- Video still from Reaching out to touch someones, somewheres, somehows

Some memorable performances were Supplicant by Rosamond S. King, Fire Butoh 3 (excerpt) by Eseohe Arhebamen / edoheart, Dark Seeds (2) by Kenya Robinson, Jump by Kelly Kleinschrodt, And Then What Happened Was by Eden Mazer and Rachel Frank, Sineplex by Sandy Ewen, Y. E. Torres (ms.YET), and Hold Still by Robert Crosse. Videos of the performances will be available on labotanica’s blog soon. I look forward to seeing these videos again over the web.

I think that art is a bit about how you engage with a work in person, but more importantly what you walk away with. As an artist (and organizer), it is also about working things out. As an artist/ organizer the show made me more inclined to do more collaborative pieces and to open myself up to failure or success and let the audience to be a part of that process. In doing this it creates space for vulnerability, and that becomes interesting.


Monday, July 27, 2009

This Friday, July 31: Reception for NPN Visual Artists in Residence: Jorge Rojas and Wura-Natasha Ogunji

Join us at Diaspora Vibe Gallery this Friday, July 31, 2009
Opening Reception of
My Space: Miami by Jorge Rojas and
Soundings by Wura-Natasha Ogunji (performance at 8pm)
7:00-10:00 PM
3938 N. Miami Ave, in the Miami Design District

Jorge Rojas and Wura-Natasha Ogunji are the Inaugural Artists for the National Performance Network's Visual Artist Netwok Residency:

Jorge Rojas will create My space: Miami, his fifth in the last calendar year in a series of interactive works entitled ‘Live Gestures’. The series started in Guadalajara, Mexico in August of 2008 and has since been in Brooklyn, NY, Bronx, NY and West Chicago, IL. My space will serve as the artist’s residence and studio for 7 days, during which time he will live, work, eat and sleep, as well as interact with the public both in the gallery and online through a 24/7 live video broadcast on BlogTV.com at http://www.blogtv.com/People/myspace.

Working with local performers, Wura-Natasha Ogunji will create Soundings, a public performance piece through which black women develop and choreograph movements based on deep knowledge and body memory. The piece is designed to happen in multiple African-Diasporic locations including Brazil, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Nigeria, and the United States. Soundings creates language for how black female bodies move in the world, recording the recurrences and repetitions over time, space, and geography. It is at once a live performance and a filmic projection as each iteration of Soundings is recorded to become part of a multi-channel video. “This documentation reveals the connection, dissonance and syncopation of power and knowledge as located in the body,” says Ogunji. Also on view are large-scale paintings by the artist.



Thursday, July 16, 2009

Diaspora Vibe Gallery, FiveMyles in Brooklyn and labotanica in Houston Present Low Lives

Join us Saturday, August 8th, 6 – 9 pm at the Diaspora Vibe Gallery for Low Lives.

Low Lives is a one-night exhibition of live performance-based works transmitted via the internet and projected in real time at three venues throughout the U.S.--FiveMyles, Brooklyn; Diaspora Vibe Gallery, Miami; and labotanica, Houston in partnership with Project Row Houses (5 – 8 pm in Houston). Low Lives examines works that explore the potential of performance practice presented live through online broadcasting networks. These networks, though seldom utilized for performance art, provide a new alternative and efficient medium for presenting and viewing performances.

Curated by Brooklyn-based artist and curator, Jorge Rojas, Low Lives embraces works with a lo-fi aesthetic such as low pixel image and sound quality, contributing to a raw, DIY and sometimes voyeuristic quality in the transmission and reception of the work. The artists and artist collectives participating in this exhibition will transmit their performances from countries including Argentina, Austria, Canada, England, France, Germany, Macedonia, Mexico, United States, Vietnam and Wales.

Low Lives is about not simply the presentation of performative gestures at a particular place and time but also about the transmission of these moments and what gets lost, conveyed, blurred, and reconfigured when utilizing this medium,” states Curator Jorge Rojas. Rojas, whose artwork has increasingly involved performative elements, proposed this exhibition to FiveMyles, Diaspora Vibe Gallery, and labotanica because of their commitment to experimental art and framing local and international art-making.

Artists include Abby Donovan; Adam Trowbridge; Amanda Alfieri; Bishop Bishop; Carlos Rodal; Carol & Jonas Pereira-Olson; Carolina Vasquez & Bethan Marlow; Caroline Boileau; Danielle Abrams; Denise Prince; Eden Mazer & Rachel Frank; ErikAndTheAnimals; Eseohe Arhebamen / edoheart; Flounder Lee; Franko B; Fred Koenig; Genevieve Erin O'Brien; Igor Josifov; Inge Hoonte & Michelle Tupko; Javier A. Lara, Rose DiSalvo, Chris; Jeanne Jo; Joe Nanashe; Johanna Reich; Kelly Kleinschrodt; Kenya (Robinson); Mark L. Stafford; Profesor Bazuco; Robert Crosse; Rosamond S. King; Rotliebend: Johanna Bruckner & Melissa Steckbauer; Sergio Lamanna; Y. E. Torres (ms.YET) & Sandy Ewen.

Low Lives is part of Diaspora Vibe Gallery’s Off the Wall Experimental Series funded in part by Funding Arts Network (FAN).