By John Thomason
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Clean-cut and poised, Hevia looks more Cape Cod than Wynwood. But deeper digging reveals he's as Miami as cafecitos. He attended New World School of the Arts and then FIU, forging relationships with cultural influencers along the way. "I decided before I went to high school that I would be a filmmaker, which is actually why I went to the high school I went to, which is why I met the people I met," he says.
A cofounder of the blossoming Borscht Film Festival, Hevia directed WLRN's recently aired Rising Tide: A Story of Miami Artists, a chronicle of Art Basel. He has also produced a number of short films, including Velvet, Otto and the Electric Eel, Chlorophyll, and the 2012 Borscht selection When We Lived in Miami. Last year, a one-minute promo showcasing the work of Funner Projects earned him an Emmy.
"Miami is fertile ground," he says. "If you build it, it will be. You want to be a filmmaker? Make a film. You want to run a film festival? Start one. That's sort of been the history of the city since its inception. All you have to do is push."
And despite the common misconception that Miami culture lags behind that of other cities, Hevia thinks the 305 is ahead of the game. "The problem is when we try to compare ourselves to New York, [which has] had 200 years to establish a city. We think we're behind, but the reality is, they're doing their thing, we're doing ours. We do it differently."
Antonia Wright has bees on the mind. Considering her next project will involve a dangerous rooftop collision between tai chi and 50,000 of the bugs, maybe that's not surprising.
"Einstein once predicted that if bees disappeared from the face of the Earth, we humans would become extinct not long after," she says thoughtfully, sipping a café con leche at the Latin American Café on Biscayne Boulevard.
Her newest project — part of a solo show that will debut in Los Angeles later this year — makes perfect sense for the daring 33-year-old. Wright has shot to the top of Miami's art scene by combining photography, film, and provocative performances that often explore social issues like the hive mind.
Born in Coral Gables and raised in South Miami, Wright came from a household brimming with artistic energy. Her mother, Carolina Garcia-Aguilera, is a novelist and mystery writer, and her father, John Parke Wright, is a businessman and painter.
Antonia's own interests drifted toward poetry at a young age.
"I began writing poetry when I was about 12 and later became fascinated by the performative aspects of the genre," she says.
So after high school, she earned an MFA in poetry from the New School in New York City. After returning to Miami in 2008, she began combining the written and the provocative.
For her 2010 video piece Job Creation in a Bad Economy, she hurtles full speed into towering walls of books. Other pieces are more confrontational. In 2010's Are You OK?, Wright cries hysterically in public around Miami to film the reaction, or lack thereof, from passersby.
Last April, she spent a month living at the women's shelter Lotus House with homeless and abused residents. The project resulted in ethereal video portraits called Women Who Stand on the Sun, for which Wright filmed the sun floating between the feet of residents. "I wanted their feet to look like they were walking or dancing on the sun," she explains. "I wanted to pay tribute to these women's inner strength and magic."
During this past Art Basel, Wright and longtime collaborator Ruben Millares stripped nude and ran around a small space while hurling balloons filled with red and black ink at each other. The performance underscored the yin and yang in their work and playful and frightening confrontations in all relationships.
Wright, who was a MasterMinds finalist last year and recently joined the Spinello Projects roster, pauses to take another sip of cafecito before mentioning her first-ever solo show, upcoming in Los Angeles.
The new hive-minded project will be called Be, she says, "referencing our natural state of being."