A report by Alexa Shabinsky for Ocean Drive.
Locust Projects debuts two art installations exploring the Miami migrant experience.
Raúl Romero in his Philadelphia studio.
Miami is a city built by migrants. They came from abroad and from within our own borders. They came seeking a safe haven and a better future. They all have a story. This month Locust Projects turns the spotlight on the migrant experience with a series of exhibitions by artists—and migrants—Juana Valdes and Raúl Romero.
Born in Cuba and raised in Miami, Valdes explores the parallels of Cuban migrants over the last 60 years to the current global refugee crisis. Rest Ashore, her large-scale multichannel video installation, walks visitors through the stages of Cuban migration. When entering the space, visitors will experience these waves of migration using multimedia sculptures and archival footage. Throughout the installation, there are three main formats, projection, computer monitors and CRT television. Valdes uses shades of green and blue in a CRT screen to evoke the feeling of being underwater, beneath the waves. This installation recognizes those who passed away on their journey to the United States and addresses the current refugee crisis. This is done by unconventionally telling their stories to bring awareness to the impact of migration through the Cuban experience.
“Coqui en el Helecho Gigante” (2020) by Raúl Romero
Romero, a second-generation Puerto Rican immigrant growing up in Florida, explores how individuals connect to their native land and familial roots. Onomonopoetics of a Puerto Rican Landscape is an interactive mobile art project that reveals how the idea of sound transmission evokes memory. Romero’s recording of a small frog local to Puerto Rico, the coqui, has become the centerpiece of his installation. “Coqui” was coined by the Taino Indigenous people of Puerto Rico as an onomatopoeia. The sharp recording of the coqui will be played every day at Locust Projects and throughout Miami. Nature has the ability to evoke memory, resonate and allow for imagination. Romero wants to initiate conversation about one’s native land through this project. He and his performers will be riding a trike through Miami neighborhoods while projecting the recording of the native frog. The artist is encouraging the public to record their own homeland memories through iconic sound to become an active part of the project.
Both Rest Ashore and Onomonopoetics of a Puerto Rican Landscape are on view at Locust Projects until Oct. 24.
Still from Rest Ashore (2020) by Juana Valdes.