Miami New Times' Mastermind Awards honors the city's most inspiring creatives. This year, we received more than 100 submissions, which our staff narrowed to an elite group of 30, and finally, nine. We'll be profiling those finalists in the days to come. This year's three Mastermind Award winners will be announced February 27 at Artopia, our annual soiree celebrating Miami culture. For tickets and more information, visit the website.
What do the films Here Comes Mr. Jordan, released in 1941, and 1955's Marty have in common?
For one thing, they run almost the same length of time, and when cued up right on top of each other on a projection screen, they also show strange correlations in the overlapping images. In the fascinating hands of Jordan Marty, the two films shown simultaneously also become a self-portrait of a visual artist interested in how objects and ideas are not merely defined by one existence or interpretation.
To Marty, everything -- from an outdated piece of technology to an ancient work of classic literature -- is limited only by our imagination. His works, which have been shown at Miami galleries including LegalArt, range from an obsolete tanning salon sign with the letters rearranged to a video of him trying to bring a pickup truck to a screeching halt.
"When I think about an idea, my first impulse isn't necessarily to go for a traditional medium, like a traditional sculptural medium," the 29-year-old artist says. "It's to use what someone would consider a readymade object and to begin with manipulating that instead of something like a piece of marble or a canvas or a print."
Ever since he was a child growing up in Melbourne, Florida, Marty has been a slave to the creative process and says he "always knew" he wanted to go to art school. He started at community college studying photography and then took his studies to the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia.
"It was more of a commercial track, and part of going to school was realizing I didn't want to go any kind of commercial route," he says.
So he took a few years off, saved money, and went back for his MFA at the University of Florida. That's where his creativity blossomed.
His thesis, a large-scale installation titled Another Inferno, fused the levels of Dante's Divine Comedy with representations of his personal history, like an old comic book or a tape deck with half-empty cans of PBR on top. It's not exactly a straight-forward message, but for Marty, that's not the point.
"Ultimately, my goal is to want to have multiple points of intrigue but to rethink parts [and show] my audience that these aren't absolutes," he explains. "Dante's Inferno isn't necessarily an absolute. You can rethink that and reinterpret it in your own way, just as in Here Comes Mr. Jordan and the movie Marty."
Marty is a product of his environment. Everything from the size of the pieces to the materials used to the themes he plays with are a result of his immediate surroundings mixed with a healthy dose of the past. His work evokes that calm, familiar, yet somewhat uneasy feeling that comes from growing up in suburbia, and he employs discarded technologies and various objects which he either still has lying around or finds himself.
"I don't consider them necessarily banal or an ironic usage. It's the material I grew up with or choose to use."
After contemplating one of Marty's works, you'll think twice before tossing those old VHS tapes in the garbage. "That's the goal," Marty says. "To impart on the audience that these objects I'm using don't have an absolute purpose or function. They can be rethought by anyone in any way, whether it's an incredibly famous poem or a discarded tape or whatever. There are multiple facets to anything."
Wanna see more MasterMinds? At Artopia, sponsored by Miracle Mile and Downtown Coral Gables, you can check out work by 2014's ten MasterMind award finalists and watch as the three Mastermind Award winners are announced. And that's just the beginning. Artopia will also include live entertainment by Bottle & Bottega, CircX, and Flamenco Puro; local art by Tesoro Carolina, Trek 6, 8 Bit Lexicon, Hec One Love, Ivan Roque, and Jay Bellicchi; and DJ sets by Main Event Productions, Phaxas, Golden San, Skinny Hendrix, and DJ Supersede. Other sponsors include Rums of Puerto Rico (Official Rum sponsor), Car2Go, El Palacios de los Jugos, Beck's (official beer sponsor), and Vero Water (official water sponsor). Early bird tickets are available through Feb. 2. Visit the official Artopia website.
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