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Knight Arts Challenge People's Choice: HICCUP Hopes to Foster Hialeah's Art Scene

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People's Choice Awards nominees are live. The community can vote now through November 17 via text message for one of six selected Knight Arts Challenge finalists to receive $20,000 to fund their projects. It's a text-to-vote campaign: Choose your favorite group and text its code to 22333. Of the 75 finalists, the six People's Choice nominees are small, emerging groups from different parts of South Florida, all working to make the region a better place to live.

A hiccup can be a jarring sensation. One that momentarily shakes the core of your reality and heightens all the reach of your perception.

And that's the precise response that Ariana Hernandez-Reguant and Ernesto Oroza plan to trigger in Hialeah through art.

Their purpose: to prove that the area is a thriving hotbed of creative talent. Their mission: to enact a series of public projects that spark the imaginations of the public at large. And with the help of the Knight Foundation, they could have some money in their coffers to make it happen. Here's what HICCUP founders Ariana Hernandez-Reguant and Ernesto Oroza had to say about their Hialeah tabloid, working with the youth, and the value of the Amertec building.

See also: Knight Arts Challenge People's Choice: Key West Art & Historical Society Preserves Memories of the Island

What is HICCUP?

HICCUP means Hialeah Contemporary Culture Project. But a hiccup is a short-lived interruption or disruption, or change in the normal flow of things.

What does the space do for the program?

It would give us a presence in the community -- a visibility, beyond an actual space to meet and display our work.

How do you engage the community?

In all sorts of ways. For instance, we are about to start distributing a tabloid around the city, with content related to creative expressions that emerge from Hialeah, and with texts and images by Hialeahns. Most of our projects are research-based and dialogical, and so the answer to your question will vary in every project.

Who are some artists you work with?

Those who left and those who are still there. We have several Hialeah-based artists in our group. Most of them young people. But we hope to tap into many more, not only visual artists, but performers, entertainers, musicians, etc. in addition to all the creative people that make all sorts of things, from cakes, to tattoos, to commercial signs.

What is the significance of Hialeah artistically?

Not only is Hialeah a mine for creativity, but as an industrial periphery it has been left out of the contemporary art circuits. A place's significance is not an objective quality. It depends on the value we want to give it. We want to show that Hialeah is a place where talent thrives.

What kind of work will transcend the exhibit space?

Most of it. A lot of our "tangible" productions will involve the urban space. Or will result in objects that might also have "use-value" and not just display-value. Then, the intangible productions (projections, performances) might similarly take place in various places around the city. That is not to say that we don't wish for an exhibit space. We do: a storefront space that can serve for exhibit, documentation, meetings, office, etc.

How often will it do so?

To some extent depends on funding. The tabloid is going to be bimonthly. Other "hiccups" might not have a set periodicity.

What can the community look forward to?

Energy and efforts to involve it in creative enterprises.

What is your artistic background?

We are a collective and organization propelled by people working for more of 20 years in art, design, architecture or public programs focused on art.

Name four things you love about Hialeah...

1. The Amertec building

2. Cakes

3. That it defies stereotypes

4. That people believe its apartments should be as expensive as those in Miami Beach

What Hiccups have you already set in motion locally?

We did a hiccup at a local Wal-Mart recently, in connection with a project to track "lo fino" and "la finura" with artists Juan Carlos Alom and Jackie Loss. But a lot more is to come.

How can you tell that the moment of disruption has occurred?

Great question! The moment someone pauses.

What is the intangible value of the Amertec building?

It represents the utmost material creativity in Hialeah' soil.

What are 5 stereotypes about Hiealeahn's?

Hold on, let me do a survey among non-Hialeahns.

What are five ways Hialeahn's think about themselves?

Hold on, let me do a survey among Hialeahns.

What do you say to people who decry Miami's alleged "lack of culture?"

Without denying that as a society we should do a lot more to enhance the public education system, I would say that when we talk about culture with small c (as opposed as with capital C). Lack of culture is often an euphemism for prejudice on the basis of class, national origin, ethnicity, race, etc. Miami is one of the most diverse cities in this country, certainly in terms of Latino and Latin American cultures.

There are stereotypes that unify Miami, but there are many different cultures among the many people that live in Miami. It is truly a multicultural city. Now, if we are talking culture with capital C, our Culture is proportional to the quality of the educational system. And we are not doing very badly in terms of higher education, but the K-12 system needs to be better leveled across the county to avoid the enormous disparities between schools. But this goes beyond HICCUP, I am afraid...

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