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.
Art is always about expression and release, but for Yuri Tuma, it's something more: an indispensable tool for getting through life. The visual artist has battled obsessive-compulsive disorder for years, and the process of creating his uniquely mind-bending, spatially distorted photoscapes calms his mind. It's his mission to share his discoveries, as well as his creations, with those who have suffered like him.
"The act of creating these repetitious forms helps to alleviate the need for compulsive action," he says. "Instead of potentially hurting myself or giving myself some anxiety, when I do my work, it's completely the opposite. It takes care of that compulsion and that anxiety all in one, but also gives the [world] art."
That discovery didn't come overnight. Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Tuma moved to Miami with his family when he was 14. His first love was music, and he followed that path to Emerson College in Boston, where he majored in marketing and communications, with an emphasis on entertainment.
"I thought it would be fulfilling as a profession," he says, "but I found music is more of a hobby for me and not really what I want as a career."
While spending a year in New York, he discovered photography. Through the simple technology of a Nokia cell phone, he fell in love.
"Once I started photographing, I was like, 'Oh, this is what it feels like when you really like something,' " he says.
He moved back to Miami in 2008 and began his path toward artistic discovery by getting a proper camera. He continued to snap anything and everything and soon found himself drawn particularly to nature and architecture, two highly symmetrical subjects on opposite ends of the human spectrum.
Diving further into those parallels, he now digitally manipulates his original images into kaleidoscopic mirages, bringing forth new forms and feelings from each subject. Building façades merge into geometric patterns, and blades of grass become abstract art. The art has struck a nerve and earned the 30-year-old photographer regular shows at the Butter Gallery and elsewhere.
"I'm starting to reach that point where I photograph a building and I'm deconstructing a construction," Tuma says. "And from that deconstruction, I'm constructing something else through photography. The whole juxtaposition of that is becoming a cool little perspective that I'm playing with."
But behind all his endeavors remains the importance of harmony.
"I think that search and that transcendental knowledge -- the inner peace -- that's what will make each individual find a better place in their life," he says. "My art and my work is very much about transcendental meditation."
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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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