"Miami is kind of considered a cultural wasteland. But there really is a lot of culture here -- it's just so spread out. There is no unity within the different cultures. That is what we want to create." So declares Mehndi (henna tattoos) body artist Fiona Troope, speaking for herself and her two partners, fashion designer NneNna Anyanwu and dancer-photographer Melanie Bordelle. The trio calls itself Women on the Verge Promotions, and they are attempting to combine heterogeneity under one roof with The Independent Artists Collective Part II: An Evening of Cultural Rebirth, a multidisciplinary event they plan to present Saturday at the Design District's Power Studios.
Troope, Anyanwu, and Bordelle have been friends since their days as students at New Jersey's Rutgers University, where in 1995 they staged a similar happening (Part I). "We were a loose gathering of artists who got together to produce a showcase so we could have a platform for our work," Troope explains. "In most places there is usually not a place where you can do that."
Count Miami among those places. Or so thought Anyanwu and Troope when they relocated here more than a year ago after hatching Women on the Verge with Bordelle in New York City. (Bordelle still lives in New York but plans to move here soon.) Then the pair discovered Power Studios, a facility that encourages artistic experimentation as a form of public entertainment. Emboldened by that welcome, Women on the Verge embarked on its mission.
More ambitious than its New Jersey predecessor, Part II strives to present a multimedia extravaganza. Saturday's clambake will feature continual music by Latin rockers Fulano de Tal, funksters Manchild, hip-hoppers Generation X, reggae/hip-hop band Ground Cipher, and folksinger Lady Bug. Painters Abena Robinson and Miguel Luciano, sculptors Michael Kocherhans and Romy, and photographers Abby Gennet, Alfred James, and Bordelle will display their work. Film students from the University of Miami will screen their movies, and the performance poetry group Body, Mind, and Soul will provide verse. Troope will exhibit photographs of her Mehndi art, and Anyanwu will debut her latest designs.
While the three women hope to make the event monthly, for now it remains a one-night affair, although very likely it will stretch into the wee hours. "We want people to see all the talent that Miami has to offer," Troope says. "There's a diverse community here, and we really need to try to close the distance that exists. There's no better way of doing that than through art."
-- Nina Korman
The Independent Artists Collective Part II: An Evening of Cultural Rebirth will begin at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 2, at Power Studios, 3701 NE 2nd Ave. Admission is $5 in advance, $8 at the door. Call 576-7567.