“My mother sewed my clothes, my sibling’s clothes, and we recycled as a humble family. She learned to sew in Home Economics, a high school course whose origins came out of the Women’s Laboratory at MIT beginning in the 19th Century. I felt odd growing up wearing asymmetrical handmade clothes, yet as society continues to become more materialistic and consumer-focused, individual expression becomes constricted and rarefied. The concept of mending and repair becomes obsolete for the new and updated.

As an installation artist , my studio is a relational and plush environment. My work is accessible, funky, quirky, and celebrates the individuality of the viewer by inviting tactile sensations and active participation. Installations encourage viewers to confront their own image, take selfies, wear costumes, touch materials, and reflect upon texts and soundtracks. My texts and audio-visuals talk about class, averting crises, and encourage practitioners not to work for free.

I produce tactile installations as safe spaces for discussions and material exchanges. I embroider ten flags and weavings annually, reflecting upon societal and political concepts that I explore organically in the material process. Texts speak about wanting a more inclusive society that speaks about class issues and mobility. I combine fabric sourced from working-class neighborhoods, places where I meet Cuban and Haitian mothers, quirky business owners who buy from eccentric wholesalers, and other artists. My interest in the power of textiles originates from my working-class roots and it
manifests in the economic realities that I face as a practicing artist.

As an artist, I’ve encountered contradictions in mobility while working to support my practices alongside the cost of living. My installations and objects hold space for viewers and mediate conversations about class and mobility through tactile experiences. Talking about class in my work acknowledges that the market is imbalanced and that money is a difficult subject to speak about culturally and institutionally.

My expanded creative practice as researcher and curator provides opportunities for other artists. I work with institutions to activate unused spaces, curate relevant thematic exhibitions, and support the production of installations. I help fundraise to pay artists, and I lecture about how working for free devalues one’s own practice as well as our greater collective practice. When I’ve had opportunities to travel, I go to the domestic fabric store a few streets away from the Duomo and buy a used Necchi sewing machine from a family business. These experiences with individuals stimulate community mindfulness. Like the weft of a weaving, (the cross threads that form a cohesive cloth) my mission supports conscientious community building and safe spaces to engage.” – Laura Marsh

Rocking Chair Sessions

Maria Theresa Barbist and Elysa D. Batista are both locally based South Florida artists that collaborate as the BABA COLLECTIVE. They originally met at the Bakehouse Art Complex in Wynwood, FL during their individual artist residencies in 2016.

The idea of the BABA COLLECTIVE was born when in discussion of the diversity of artists that were found at the BAC, and other institutions in Miami, they realized the lack of archives providing the ability to access interviews of these individuals. Thus RCS: ROCKING CHAIRS SESSIONS was created. A publicly accessible forum where one could find individual recordings describing the professions, media, and life of South Florida based creatives.

Launching their collaborative endeavor in 2017, the BABA COLLECTIVE seeks to amass a window into the lives and process of SoFla based professionals in the arts.