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Bass Director Silvia Karman Cubina Mixes Baroque and Pop Culture

What does a baroque altar piece depicting the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus have to do with a pair of incandescent pink and purple ghetto-fabulous sneakers? At the Bass Museum, it's the clever juxtaposition of historical and contemporary art that generates dialogue and enhance public interest.

"We want to become the place where art history and contemporary art come together to inspire conversations," says Silvia Karman Cubina, the Bass's executive director and chief curator. "I would like the museum to become a destination where families and young people come to hang out on Sundays and experience art in a non-traditional way."

Since taking control of the museum's reins a little over a year ago, Cubina has turned the Bass on its head. During the last edition of Art Basel she organized "Where Do We Go From Here?: Selections From La Colleccion Jumex, " representing one of the largest privately held collections of contemporary art in Latin America.

The stateside debut of the Mexico-based collection marked a major coup for Cubina and was arguably one of the most talked about and visited local shows during the December fair.

Gabriel Kuri's wheelbarrow of Christmas ornaments.
Gabriel Kuri's wheelbarrow of Christmas ornaments.


Since then, the dynamic curator has also rescued a mummy

from obscurity and launched the Egyptian Gallery at the Bass, which

features the ancient stiff and a collection of rare artifacts on

permanent display in the only space of its kind in the entire state.

"My

goal has been to integrate a variety of different and interesting works

and artifacts from the museum's collection for the public to discover

them in a new and exciting way," Cubina explains.

"In our current

show we have juxtaposed many historical pieces alongside new works from

various local collections to encourage novel interpretations and

approaches to experiencing a museum exhibit. The community has been very

supportive of our efforts."

"It's quite a privilege to have these

historical art resources in Miami. By placing them in a new context next

to contemporary art it allows a broader understanding of how art

history has evolved and appeals to young audiences who might be more

interested in cutting-edge art as well," the curator adds.

Cubina's

thumbprint is all over the museum's current exhibit "Human Rites,"

which she organized along with the Bass's adjunct curator Steve Holmes. The

exhibition explores ritual through art and features everything from

15th and 16th century devotional altar pieces and statutes alongside

skull-staving works by top-drawer contemporary names.


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