Industrious Resolutions

Miami artists share their wry hopes, sly hopes, and high hopes for the coming year

Susan Mitchell
Poet and essayist, whose latest book of poems, Rapture, was nominated for a National Book Award; winner of a Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 1993

HarperCollins is bringing my first book back into print. It's called The Water Inside the Water. I've got a three-book contract. Since the deadline for a book of essays is coming up, that's my project for the new year. I'll be reading at the Library of Congress and at the Academy of American Poets.

My New Year's resolutions are to resist censorship wherever it comes up, and that's often, and to practice compassion in any way that I can. These are two things that have been on my mind because of experiences I've had lately.

I was recently asked to do a reading in another state, and I was told beforehand that I couldn't read any poems with any kind of sexual content. I refused to do the reading. They asked me if I felt that would limit me as an artist. I said no, it would limit me as a human being.

Last year I was in the hospital, and there were a lot of AIDS patients on the floor. There was a young woman in the room next to mine who was dying. She was about 30. The atmosphere of not wanting to touch the patients -- it was like encountering stainless steel. Though I'm sure that wasn't the intention of the hospital staff. It made me so aware of the importance of compassion as a value that I decided that in spite of whatever fear I felt, I would make it a priority.

Gary Moore
Multimedia artist
I'm really excited about a one-man show coming up called "Hog-Tied to a Star-Spangled Ass Kickin'." It's going to be kind of autobiographical. It's the first time I'm doing work that shows where my head is at politically, spiritually, and culturally. I'm also going to be in a show at the Polk Museum in Lakeland. I'm doing an installation based on Sun Ra's music. I want it to look like a spaceship's just taken off. It's a floor piece with sunglasses, sneakers, a beer can -- that kind of thing.

I'm working on a major project -- I've been commissioned with another artist to do a sculptural installation at the Miami Arena. My contribution will be a gateway to the future, directly inspired by the Overtown community. I want to develop the idea of the future of the community; for me, the whole idea of dealing with the past is an old idea. What I'm thinking about doing is having a part of the installation that people can bring personal objects for and they'll be planted in the sculpture, in the same way that African sculpture has traditionally used power objects. They can see these things every day when they pass by, and hopefully their sons will, too. It has to do with remembering the past and preparing for the future.

I think as a cultural producer, which is often the role of the artist these days, we have to try to dilute the intention and whole flavor of this community in our work. Miami is just so hot right now, it's the city of the future. If we can get our identities together, the Cubans, the blacks, and the Anglos, and realize we're all going to be together for the next 100 years or so, it's going to be a really happening thing.

Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk
Architect and urban planner, professor at the University of Miami School of Architecture

I have lots of local projects under way through my office and through the School of Architecture. The Center for Urban and Community Design is something that kind of institutionalizes efforts we've made over the years with different municipalities. Two of those will be important to my work early in the year: a North Beach study for the City of Miami Beach and the North Beach Corporation; and a study of the east-west corridor implemented by Commissioner Ferre for the county. Those are exciting to me because my part in this and my local agenda for the year is to keep the planning and designing of our cities and regions on the public agenda.

We firmly believe that the time has come, that we are at a critical time to take a regional future in hand and really make an agenda in a planning process which envisions a wonderful future for South Florida, which certainly involves attention to good design. We see that those cities that seem to be in the best shape are cities addressing in the regional picture issues like the design of public spaces and downtown public housing within the design of the future economy. We need to do that a lot more here in South Florida than we have been. That happens through our office, as well as through the university in partnership with a lot of people. We feel this is one of the most important goals we could bring to the region, or else we're going to be left behind in the regional economy from a larger perspective.

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