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South Florida Photographer Monica McGivern Puts a Face on Miami

Self-portrait 
Self-portrait 
Monica McGivern
Bath salt cannibals, EDM-fueled Ultra Music Festival tree humpers, mami and papi chulos -- everyone and their mother has an opinion about what kind of people make up Miami. But Miami women don't all draw their eyebrows on with Sharpie, not all dudes act like Pitbull, and just because we're one of the party capitals of the world, doesn't mean we don't have more to offer in terms of culture.

Dispelling these ridiculous generalizations of South Florida natives, award-winning photographer and mixed-media artist Monica McGivern is out to document some of the amazing individuals that drive our city.

In her first Miami solo show, McGivern in conjunction with commercial music and media curators Imagesound Americas, will unveil her "Miami Portrait Project." On Saturday, April 27, never before seen photographs, multimedia works, and interactive "motionography" art installation will feature an assortment of artists, musicians, and media personalities who have inspired McGivern, and who she feels are responsible for enriching Wynwood's distinct aesthetic.


"Miami used to be so intimidating to me...but then I started meeting all of these interesting people and started getting to know Miami without ever having been there," McGivern said of her experiences freelancing for New Times Broward Palm-Beach and Miami New Times. A resident of Palm Beach Gardens, the bits and pieces of 305 life captured through her lens served as inspiration for her latest work. "I've been in Florida for about 10 years and up until last year, I had been to Miami maybe three times," she said. After meeting new creatives and friends in the city, she's been making the drive down once a week, sometimes more.

What was supposed to be a silly little show in the Coconut Grove backyard of her friends, the avant-garde music duo Pocket of Lollipops, turned into a fully curated event showcasing true individuals who deserve to be recognized, and hopefully inspire the community as much as they have inspired McGivern.

She spoke of subjects Ricardo Guerrero of This Heart Electric and Emmy-winning filmmaker Andrew Hevia as some of the people who have helped her express her vision. "I've had his music for maybe two years, listening to it, driving up and down Florida," McGivern said about Guerrero, a staple in Miami's music scene who will also be performing at Sweatstock 4 on Record Store Day. "Hevia is just one of those people that's just out there and passionate, and his creativity is really catchy," she said of the Borscht Film Festival co-founder.

Clockwise from top left, Brian Butler, Arielle Castillo, Andrew Hevia, Kuby Nnamdie
Clockwise from top left, Brian Butler, Arielle Castillo, Andrew Hevia, Kuby Nnamdie
Monica McGivern

Her project "is an homage to some of the really talented and interesting people who really have a voice in Wynwood, whether they're journalists, or artists, or business owners." Spectators will encounter familiar faces on the scene such as illustrator Brian Butler, musicians Gavin Perry and Beatriz Monteavaro of Holly Hunt, New Times Broward Palm-Beach music editor and founder of The Heat Lightning Liz Tracy, Jordan Melnick of Beached Miami, journalist Arielle Castillo, conceptual artist and photographer Kuby Nnamdie, and more.

 

Although McGivern has displayed some of her work in a group exhibit during last year's Art Basel, this is her largest show to date, and the first chance she's had to really put herself out there. Last year, while on his bicycle, her husband was struck by a hit and run driver. "That took me out of the game of photography and everything got put on pause where we just had a year of recovery, so this project really marks getting back into a regular routine and coming back to photography and my own personal goals of creating and really helping transcend," she said.

Since the end of January, she's shot multiple times between Wynwood and Palm Beach, spent long nights relentlessly editing, and put together an interactive "motionography" installation piece. McGivern is coming back full force.

She began her "motionography" experiments using gummy bears, but her installation for the show will feature this cute ass bunny belonging to the Lollipops.

Larrup, the motionography bunny
Larrup, the motionography bunny
Monica McGivern

"It's kind of a term that's not concrete, and motionography as I know it and how it's represented online, is much more video centric. It's all based off of stop-frame animation with shots and then they compile that into an entire video, so it's not so much about the single photo, but the animation that the stop-frame makes...but basically your movement is what animates the stop-frame photography," McGivern said. The technique was invented in the mid 19th century by Eadweard Muybridge, an English photographer and pioneer of motion-picture projection. Basically, he's the father of the modern animated GIF.

Join McGivern at her debut for complimentary cocktails and light bites by chef Timothy Tucker, whose Culinary Training Program offers free job skills training in the culinary arts to nontraditional students in Miami and Louisville, Kentucky. She hopes to turn the project into an ongoing series to expose the characters and lifestyles of real Miami movers and shakers. In doing so, she has already proven herself to be just as valuable to Miami as the people she photographs.

Miami Portrait Project takes place Saturday, April 27, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Imagesound in the Seminole Building, 120 NW 25th Street, Suite 203, Miami. Call 954-540-6450.

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