When Faena Art arrived in Miami Beach in 2014, it promised to revitalize the somewhat neglected Mid-Beach neighborhood. By the time 2016’s processional performance Tide by Side spilled onto Collins Avenue, the arts nonprofit seemed poised to have a meaningful impact on the local scene.
While it has continually sought to showcase artists and engage with the community, Faena’s latest program might be its most important one yet.
“The idea of launching an artist-in-residence program has been in our imagination since we opened the Faena Forum,” Faena Art’s director of exhibition Direlia Lazo tells New Times via email. “This artist residency is our modest effort to continue supporting the incredible work being done by the local artists who have made up the fabric of Faena Art over the last several years.”
Over the next three months, the multidisciplinary artists will transform the Forum — located at 33rd Street and Collins Avenue — into their own studio. During this time, they’ll take the opportunity to refine old projects and explore new works.
“I hope this residency program will further cement our contribution to Miami’s evolving cultural landscape, creating an even stronger connection between the local artist community and our program,” says Nicole Comotti, Faena Art’s executive director.
Given the reckoning transpiring across America regarding systemic racism, coupled with a pandemic that has disproportionally affected Black people, the decision to inaugurate Faena’s residency program with a trio of Black artists is a significant one.
“I think it would be impossible to divorce this program from current events — both the tragic consequences of a global health crisis and the pervasive marginalization of Black people,” Lazo says. “We wanted to invite artists to reimagine the future from within our walls in a manner that mirrors the introspection that all of humanity is currently undergoing.”
Suzi Analogue (AKA Maya Shipman) moved from New York City to Miami in 2016, bringing with her a blend of genre-flipping, frenzied electronica that binds with visual art and social awareness.
“That’s really what I will focus on,” Shipman tells New Times. “I’m here making those archives of audio and visual content accessible to people on virtual platforms.”
The 32-year-old will be working on those archives but also a motion picture in tandem with the Teenage Engineering artist fellowship that supports artists of color.
Trained at a young age as a classical singer, Shipman has been performing as an electronic artist since 2009 and collaborated extensively with fellow producers, including DJ Earl and TOKiMONSTA. Her label, Never Normal Records, and her collective, Never Normal Sound System, spotlights artists from the African diaspora.
Photo courtesy of Faena Art
The death of George Floyd and the ensuing Black Lives Matter protests have shifted Shipman’s expectations of how her audience ought to interpret her work.
“It has actually opened me up to be more unapologetic about what I am creating and whom I am creating for,” she says. “I just feel like everything is possible now. People are receiving this amazing work from Black artists in a way that the artist wants to tell it.”
Shipman is inspired to perform in the same way producers like the Neptunes, J Dilla, Flying Lotus would play live: surrounded by an extensive assortment of hardware and throwing out mesmerizing beats to a crowd.
“My live performance is inspired by a new wave of producer culture,” Shipman says. “From the ’70s to the ’90s, producers were very behind-the-scenes. But in the 2000s, they were producers — like the ones living in Miami. For a kid, seeing this stuff happen changed my perspective about having fun, making tracks, and having songs come alive.”
Jamilah Sabur has been a multidisciplinary artist for more than eight years. Her work has been displayed at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and as part of a residency at ArtCenter/South Florida (now Oolite Arts). Born in Jamaica, the 33-year-old artist binds language with geography to present her home country in a nuanced and captivating light.
“My time at Faena is not about making a completed work to present to the public anytime soon,” Sabur tells New Times. “But it is about using the space to think and test out new ideas, formally and technically.”
Using images of Jamaica, her installation Obra, which debuted at the Faena Festival in December, elicits the elasticity of memory across the annals of time and place.
“What I would love for people to know about my practice is that there is an urgency to connect. How we communicate and negotiate through space; how empathy is built,” Sabur told ArtCenter South Florida in 2018.
Sabur will use her residency to work on a motion picture.
“The video I’m developing at Faena is a continuation of a series of videos I’ve made recently dealing with geology and language,” she says.
Eddy Samy (left) and Daygee Kwia of Paperwater.
Photo by Anita Posada
Daygee Kwia and Eddy Samy, who go by Paperwater, push genres like hip-hop and indie through the electronic music canon. They grew up listening to everything from System of a Down to Tori y Moi, and it isn’t hard to see that inspiration in their work.
“I think it goes into our musical taste and upbringing in Miami,” Kwia says. “As we got older, we thought Miami was a melting pot, and our music reflects our experiences.”
Friends since high school, the 31-year-olds have performed Miami’s most popular venues and festivals as well as at Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas.
With numerous projects to choose from, the pair will work first on completing their compilation album, Florida Project, which they plan to release on their label, Wet Paper.
“This will feature a multitude of South Florida artists that we feel are very talented and need to be heard,” Samy says.
The duo also started a video series, Wet Paper Live, through their creative agency, Half Full. The ten-episode series features local artists performing short sets around Miami.
“We feel like Florida is really underrepresented in terms of music, and there’s a misconception that it is all South Beach or what an electronic artist is supposed to look like,” Samy says. “We kinda just want to break that stereotype.”
Wet Paper Live’s third episode, featuring local band Remyz, was released last month.
“As corny as it seems, I would like for people to see our work and get inspired and want to see us live,” Kwia admits. “I feel like we are challenging ourselves differently, even outside of music, for people to receive our work in different creative ways.”