Miami New Times' Mastermind Awards, presented by the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, honors the city's most inspiring creatives. This year, we received over 100 submissions, which our staff narrowed to an elite group of 30. We'll be profiling our 20 honorable mentions, and eventually our 10 finalists, in the weeks to come. This year's three Mastermind Award winners will be announced February 27 at Artopia, our annual soiree celebrating Miami culture presented by the Miracle Mile Downtown Coral Gables. For tickets, visit the website.
Vaginas. Do we have your attention? In a world plagued with ADD, nothing grabs an audience's attention like the female anatomy.
And artist Allison Kotzig's art is attention-getting indeed. Basically, she uses fake vaginas to makes a statement about feminism, humor, misogyny, and the American puritanical ideal. They come in many guises -- as alien overlords, nailed to boards, or with little plastic babies streaming from within.
"I use sex store vaginas as a way to sort of free them from their intended purpose as sex toys -- to give them a voice in the art world as well as create something funny," Kotzig says.
"I like to discuss the concept of artificial versus natural," Kotzig says. "People have a very serious discomfort with biology, which is translated into how we view the natural world. Our discomfort with our own biology is destructive to us personally as a species and to other species as well."
Kotzig splits her time between Miami and the Carpathian foothills of Slovakia, where she and her husband run an inn and slow food restaurant. Lucky duck.
Currently, Kotzig is working on a couple of projects, including a Giants in the City collaboration that recently showed at Art Palm Beach. But trust us, when you see her work around, you'll recognize it. We asked Kotzig a few questions about vaginas, medieval history, and her second home of Slovakia.
Where do you stock up on your faux vaginas?
I go to a bunch of local sex shops. They give me really weird looks. I buy them in bulk and I get really excited if they have a new model. I've been asking for discounts and they're like, 'Who are you?' One time I was really embarrassed, I found myself lurking in the parking lot waiting for the sex shop to open on a Sunday morning.
You studied neuropsychology and medieval history. How did those two happen?
I studied neuropsychology but when I realized I would have to do animal testing I had to drop it. I couldn't cope with animal testing. I changed fields to medieval history a couple of years later. When you study medieval history you realize it was so awful and the social conditions were so hideous -- you feel a lot more relaxed about social conditions today. There were no heads rotting on pikes in the street. You don't need super high shoes to cross a street full of sewage. It's so much better now than it ever was. It's progressing all the time, it gives me a feeling of hope about the human condition.
What do you miss most about Miami when you're in the Carpathian foothills?
I miss the colors. I love Miami, I love all the different people, the sheer diversity of people and culture and languages. It's so exciting, there's amazing energy. I just love it! I miss that a lot when I'm there.
How do you think people in Slovakia would react to your art, compared to Americans?
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Americans are really weird about it in a way that shocked me. Even in the art world people were still conservative. I haven't shown those over there. I think it would go over pretty well. People are less shocked by that sort of the thing. Body parts aren't as big of a deal in Europe as they are here.
Wanna see more MasterMinds? At Artopia, presented 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.