I hope you don't think that I'm against all public art. I'm not. I'm just weary of the predictable, tiresome, art-by-committee projects selected for most public spaces. Murals are the worst. But that's another post.
I am, very occasionally, charmed by public art. Going through Atlanta airport last night I came across an installation by the artist Lillian Blades. The photo above is a detail from a large piece at the airport, Quilted Passages (2002).
A loamy, spiritual power is present in Lillian Blades' artwork and buttoned up behind the visual construction of the piece. Here is a detail from Blades' Eye Connection.
This work, along with others on Blades' website, totally captures the spiritual power behind the Afro-Caribbean aesthetic I found in Miami.
You see, before I even moved there, I was working on several different projects, one of which was an evaluation of a project at the Historical Museum South Florida on Afro-Orisha traditions. The museum curator (also an anthropologist AND a musician) and I got to talking about something he was doing on the side: a CD recording of Haitian voudou ceremonies - real ones - recorded live in Miami. Some of them lasted more than 24 hours, apparently. Anthropology will tell you that the recording takes away the ceremony's power, but I still never managed to listen to the CD in its entirety. Ethnographic masterpiece that it is,it freaked me out.
So when I began living in Miami I arrived knowing that there were certain stores on the north side where real live curses were for sale. I could never drive through those neighborhoods without wondering how much it would cost to hurt someone who had hurt you. White knuckles on the wheel keeping me pointed toward the Humane Society where real, fuzzy, love was eventually found.
Lucky for you, [unnamed] mofo. Lucky for you. [<---shifty eyes--->]