Public art meets poetry in the month-long festival known as O, Miami. We sit down with visual artists Najja Moon and Michelle Lisa Polissaint and O, Miami’s managing director Melody Santiago Cummings to talk about their work and introduce site-specific projects that bring poetry to communities.

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Special Audio: Michelle Lisa Polissaint, Moonlight Moanin’; O, Miami: Ivan Lopez, The Last Ride of José Martí; Mia S. Willis, “hecatomb;” Sandra March, with Jose Olivarez, The Beach is a Border; The Sunroom| Photography courtesy the artists and O, Miami

Who’s The Fool? How To Patch A Leaky Roof: Moon and Polissaint create a Little Haiti Cultural District version of the blue umbrellas distributed for free in the Design District, a burgeoning retail development that is rapidly reducing the footprint of a community established by thousands of Haitian immigrants beginning in the 1950s. The artists imagine a dual role for the 1,000 bright red umbrellas they had fabricated. Mobile shelters from the rain and shields against the impact of urban development, the Little Haiti umbrellas feature a Creole proverb alluding to the false promise of urban development in the district. As if placing a flag on the moon, or drawing a line in the sand, Moon and Polissaint proclaim the identity of the community they call home and construct a monument to those fighting to preserve the district. The artists will go door to door with their gifts, inviting neighbors to join in addressing the larger issue of gentrification in Miami.

O, Miami projects introduced in this episode: Who’s the Fool?; Chiquita Poemas; The Last Ride of José Martí; The Beach is a Border; The Sunroom, poetry in schools

Tags: community, gentrification, immigration, Ivan Lopez, Jose Olivarez, Little Haiti, Little Haiti Cultural District, Melody Santiago Cummings, Mia S. Willis, Miami Design District, Michelle Lisa Polissaint, Najja Moon, OMiami, performance, poetry, poetryfestival, public art, Sandra March, site-specific, urban development

Fresh Art International
Beginning with research, networking, and field recordings, independent curator Cathy Byrd works with a team of creatives to script, direct, produce, publish, and promote a range of perspectives on contemporary art. Fresh Art International models the fresh thinking and positivity essential to building a sustainable professional practice in the field. With her supporters, Byrd has effectively invented a vital new art media platform that offers a globally-informed assessment and a virtual archive of contemporary art and culture.

For more than 20 years, Byrd has engaged in extensive field work, traveling across the U.S., and to Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal and Turkey. To capture the voices you hear in our Fresh Art International podcast series, she records in-person, via Skype and by mobile phone. Fresh Art International features the voices of Claire Tancons, Tania Bruguera, Theaster Gates, Joan Jonas, Jason Moran, Franklin Sirmans, Marinella Senatore, Cesar Cornejo, Antoni Muntadas, Janet Biggs, Valerie Cassel Oliver, Trenton Doyle Hancock, William Pope.L, and many more. Select sounds and photographs illustrate Fresh News and Fresh VUE features on Miami Art Week, São Paulo Biennial, dOCUMENTA, Venice Art Biennial, Istanbul Biennial, Lyon Biennial, SXSW, ARCO Madrid, Armory Arts Week, Frieze New York, Cartagena Biennial, Havana Biennial, and Prospect New Orleans, among other international exhibitions and events.

Notably, each Fresh Art International podcast episode features an introductory text, photo feature and signature sound. All are archived on multiple platforms, and the full series is downloadable for free on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Android, Google Music Play, and Public Radio Exchange, where we make our podcast available for public radio broadcast.

Our Global Initiative
Since the launch of this platform, our reach has spanned the U.S., including residencies on Miami Beach, in Baltimore, Newcastle, Austin, Brooklyn, Chicago, and New Orleans. In Europe, we’ve set up shop in Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Berlin. Engaged with the diverse character of creative practitioners globally, we’ve recorded conversations with visual, performance and sound artists, curators, architects, and filmmakers, among other culture makers. We’ve toured exhibitions and art fairs, attended performances, experienced public art and explored architecture. We’ve captured field recordings worldwide in cities and remote sites including São Paulo, Brazil; New York City; Lubbock; Roswell, NM; Marfa; Baltimore; Washington, DC; Madrid; Lisbon; Istanbul; Bergen (Norway); The Hague; Frankfurt, Brooklyn; Providence, Rhode Island; New Orleans; Chicago; Atlanta; Austin, Texas; and Key West, Florida.