Unlike most of its competition, Locust Projects was a trendsetter on the Miami art scene. In the late '90s, the art collective got the jump on the incredibly cheap rents available in downtown-adjacent neighborhoods. Almost 20 years later, and Locust Projects keeps opening up new shows and exhibits that challenge local art lovers, and artists to aspire for higher ground. Last week, they opened "Port" a site-specific installation by L.A.-based artist Christina Mesiti. The project covers the gallery's walls in geometric cut-outs from security envelopes, along with various sculptures (covered in the same envelopes) which the artist refers to as "toys." Rich in texture and colors, walking into "Port" is sort of like discovering a compelling and immersive Tumblr page.
"I'm drawn to things that operate as containers for moving contents through the world (envelopes, packing materials, etc)." Mesiti explained to New Times. "Security envelopes are especially interesting because they complicate their edge with patterns that can be quite mesmerizing."
Further complicating matters are the envelopes prescribed use, in this case to transport confidential information across the world. By covering the space in their geometric patterns, Mesiti subverts the found object's intended use. By de-familiarizing the viewers' relationship to the object, she essentially frees us to interact with the material world. These are all concepts and themes the artist has explored in previous work, but for this exhibition she decided to play with scale.
Several of her sculptural pieces appear in miniature, hung along the wall, while a very large version sits in the corner of the room effectively dwarfing the entire installation. "We have a very specific physical habit with envelopes, a kind of physical movement that only exists in the hands and arms," she says. "By enlarging, I wanted the viewer to feel a whole body relationship to it."
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Her work comes to Miami by way of Locust Project's LAB MFA, the gallery's first national open call for graduate students to display their work for local art lovers. Born in Arizona, Mesiti currently resides in Southern California were she recently received her MFA from Claremont Graduate University and teaches at Pitzer College.
Also on view at Locust Project is their annual Locust Arts Builders show. Twenty South Florida high school students from 11 high schools across the county were selected from an open call to create the collaborative exhibition. Under the direction of Miami-based contemporary visual artist Monica Lopez de Victoria, students were given the opportunity to manage all aspects of the show’s production during a multi-week summer intensive. The resulting pieces and installations form a cross section of youthful taste in art that highlight social media, growing up in Miami, among other themes.
If you're interested in checking out Mesiti's "Port," along with brilliant work from some of South Florida's brightest young creative talents, you can check out Locust Projects Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Mondays and Sundays. For more information you can contact them by phone at 305-576-8570, or visit locustprojects.org.