On their 15th birthday, Locust Projects has good reason to celebrate! They recently moved into a new 5,000 square foot exhibition space at a prime location in the burgeoning Design District (near the delicious Harry’s Pizzeria) and they have new projects in the horizon.
Chana Budgazad Sheldon, Executive Director, took the time to tell me about the organization’s mission, show me the space and some recent Locust Projects: rainbows in bus shelters, a subtropical paper wilderness, and recycled vinyl art.
They sound like images out of poetry, but, those are actually images of works Locust Projects has actualized: 1111 Out of the Box: The Billboard Project & The Bus Shelter Project by Agustina Woodgate, Drawn from the Everglades by Wade Kavanaugh, Stephen B. Nguyen, and Limonene by Hannah Whitaker. These exhibits all have one thing in common: they present an interplay between the outside world and the artist. In this case, the outside world is the city of Miami. Sometimes the art is brought to the city where it is in need of beautification-bus shelters, garbage and sometimes the city is brought into the gallery as the source of beauty itself-the wilderness.
Locust Projects, a not-for-profit exhibition space, explores an artist’s relationship to their community, thereby encouraging symbiotic growth. If the artists nurtures the community, the community will nurture the artist.
“One of the unique parts of the talks is that visiting artists are given a tour of the city. They are taken in a car to visit the studios of about 5 local artists, so they get to see the city in a very different way,” Chana Budgazad Sheldon
In the Locust Talks, discussion flourishes between visiting art professionals and the local art community. Not only are ideas exchanged, but support, encouragement, and inspiration are transferred.
“It’s a great way to nurture local talent and assist them in building connections for possible future exhibits.”
The second of three talks, this year welcomed Lauri Firstenberg, director, and chief curator LAXART, Los Angeles, CA. It took place April 18th. The third talk will be in September, so make sure to check out the Locust Projects website for more information. Chana and I sat in a small, cozy room in the gallery, where some classic pieces, including one of Augustina Woodgate’s bus-shelter rainbow posters, are displayed along with shelves filled with numerous art books. The room makes up the Locust Projects Library. The brand new library room consists of a workspace with a table and chairs. A few classic books caught my eye.
“We built a library space so that anyone in the community can come exchange ideas, think, read, research, create and hang out”
The library was donated by Debra and Dennis Scholl. It is open to the public and now includes more than 1,500 art books. Out of the Box (OOTB): An art gallery, despite the creativity represented by the works hung on its walls, can often itself become a sort of box, where creativity is often obstructed by the walls or conventions that embrace it. Creativity is nurtured by a community. Art can’t exist within a vacuum. Locust Projects Out of the Box project address the need of artists to go out of the box, not only the literal box of the gallery, but of convention. With funding from the Knight Foundation, Locust Projects chose a local artist, Augustina Woodgate, to create art in a public space.
“The artist wanted to put rainbows around the city.”
In the recent Bus Shelter Project, iridescent pieces that reflect the electromagnetic spectrum were placed in 50 bus shelters and 2 billboards; there is a physics and technically behind the pieces necessary to realize Woodgate’s desire to put rainbows in these unlikely city spaces.
In its spirit of serving the community, Locust Projects is also sponsoring summer workshops with high school students, The LAB (Locust Art Builders). Fifteen students from all the schools throughout Miami are chosen. They are led by a mentor who doesn’t direct them, but simply oversees them.
“We throw the students together in the space and just have them come up with something. Part of it involves learning to have your voice heard in a large group.”