The Birth of Collectivity
By Isabella Marie Garcia, ASC2018 (spookyrose.wordpress.com)
The dichotomy of well-known art collectors and artists within the Magic City, their gowns and suits and everything in between standing next to the dusty grains of hay, scattered but clumped together to form a stage.
It’s the opening night of the “Collectivity” exhibition at the Bakehouse Art Complex (BAC), where more than 300 of Miami’s art scene gathered together to meet and view the artists in residence at BAC.
For the FIU Honor College students of Art, Society, Conflict (ASC), who had worked on the Hay Installation present at the exhibition with Robert Chambers, the artist behind the idea, the chance to enter this hidden part of the art world manifested itself into reality in great part to Bakehouse Art Complex‘s generosity and Professor John Bailly‘s encouragement.
During the evening, guests were allowed to meander in and out of artists in residence studios that are scattered down the corridors of the first and second floors of the complex, and personally meet with the artists in order to fully understand their mediums and the key messages that drive their works. At the commencement of the Hay Installation poetry readings, US presidential inaugural poet and FIU Honor College professor Richard Blanco initiated the readings with “One Today,” the work that launched his voice to a nation’s crowd as a call to come together as one.
By Richard Blanco
One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.
My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper—
bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives—
to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.
All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches
as mothers watch children slide into the day.
One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.
The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind—our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.
Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello / shalom,
buon giorno / howdy / namaste / or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me—in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.
One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.
One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.
We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together
Following Richard Blanco‘s reading, the students of Art, Society, Conflict (ASC) were able to activate the space and share their reflections about the process of constructing the Hay Installation together as a class. Shalenah Ivey, one of the students in the inaugural class of Art, Society, Conflict, noted, “It was wonderful to be in the presence of such talent and artistry as well as people with a love for art. Being able to converse with the artists about what inspires them and their process was a real honor.” One of the artists in attendance at the event, Andrea Reyes, was thrilled to see the material of hay being used as the structure for the installation, stating, “I was delighted by the Hay Exhibition. I recorded a few minutes of it because the environment, especially the scent of hay, reminded me of that soothing and beautiful energy I get when I visit the barn and my horses. I recovered the material from the exhibition, I’m SO happy about it! I’m planning on including that in a short film that I’m working on for the future.”
On behalf of the students of Art Society Conflict, we would like to thank Robert Chambers and the Bakehouse Art Complex for allowing us the opportunity to attend the opening of “Collectivity,” and to Professor John Bailly for guiding us through the project.
For more information on the evening’s events and artists, please visit http://worldredeye.com/2018/11/collectivity-open-house-preview-at-bakehouse-art-complex/. For more information on the Bakehouse Art Complex and similar exhibitions like the Hay Installation, please visit http://www.bacfl.org/. For more information on the Art, Society, Conflict course as taught by Professor John Bailly of the FIU Honors College, please follow @artsocietyconflict on Instagram or visit https://johnwbailly.com/asc/.
Gallery from “Collectivity” Opening at Bakehouse Art Complex