MIM Fall 2019 Service Project: Gabriela Lastra

LnS GALLERY

This semester in Professor Bailly’s Miami in Miami class has been a journey and an adventure. I have learned so much, about my city as well myself. As part of the community, in this class we are encouraged to give back. We go to Chicken Key in Biscayne Bay and do a beach cleanup and we are also asked to do an independent service project. My project ended up being in the one area I was mostly uninterested in coming in: contemporary art. Professor John Bailly is himself a painter at a local gallery, LnS GALLERY run by Sergio Cernuda and Luisa Lignarolo, which focuses on showcasing contemporary art by local Miami artists. On November 16th I volunteered at the opening night of Professor Bailly’s first solo exhibition, THE ROSES OF FIBONACCI. I arrived early and was instructed by Sofia Guerra, the curator of the Project Room, on what my duties for the night would be. After walking around and getting to enjoy the works on display for a while, the people started arriving. I put on my gloves and spent the night showing those who came into the room the works stored in the drawers and answering questions as best I could or directing them to Sofia when I could not. It was honestly an incredible night. Everyone who came in was so fundamentally different and the way they viewed the works was shaped by their differences. Seeing the works through their eyes and listening to all the different questions I could be asked about the same piece made me see them differently myself. So captivated I was by this brand new world I was beginning to appreciate that for the second part of my service project I chose to venture in once more, this time at a much larger venue.

UNTITLED, Art.

Works by Joana Choumali, Faig Ahmed, and Godfried Donkor at UNTITLED, Art. ( Photo by Gabriela Lastra CC By 4.0)

UNTITLED, Art. is one of the fairs that comes once a year for Miami’s Art week. It hosts exhibitions of dozens of galleries from all around the world and gets over 20,000 visitors a day over the week. Though Miami Art Week is a place for both the old and the new, UNTITLED, Art. focuses on contemporary works. I had already decided to volunteer at the fair before I had seen it. When we did visit as a class, I was fascinated by the entire experience. I could not wait to go back. On December 7th I arrived in the morning to find the place already buzzing with activity. My role for the day was meant to be assisting at the Press Desk, where journalists and writers checked in. At fist I helped to make the press passes and translated when a few Spanish speaking journalists came up and the two Press Desk employees had communication problems. After a while I was asked to help by going to the back offices and getting packets out of storage. Later in the afternoon when another volunteer at the fair failed to show up on time, I was asked to cover her spot. I was placed in front of the door where the art works were stored and told the code for the door. I was to make sure that only authorized personnel came in and took art works from the room and that they signed each work out. It was an enormous responsibility and while I was at first quite nervous, I enjoyed it a lot. I got to see many of the works that were not being displayed and I had the privilege of speaking with the artists and gallery directors who came in and out of the storage room. It was without a doubt the most interesting responsibility I’ve ever had. I can say with total honesty that the course of my life has been irrevocably changed. I am applying to law school this winter and after these experiences, I am no longer sure of exactly which area of law I want to practice. What I do know is that I am not ready to leave the incredible world of art. Art is a way for people to reach out to each other, to express themselves and take in the world around us.

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