One of the great benefits of working in Wynwood is working alongside plenty of creative folk - especially if your office happens to be inside the zebra-looking Wynwood Building.
Nestled between various art galleries is the University of Miami Art Gallery, which is run by curator Milly Cardoso. The gallery space showcases the artwork of university students in the masters program.
Currently on display is "Borderland" by Leah Brown. Brown's vision of this land between the sleeping and those awake is hauntingly eye-catching, with towering figures cloaked in white and three sisters sleeping at the foot of some mystical creatures. It'll have you standing on the border of the hallway and the gallery entrance longer than you probably should on a bathroom work break, so we talked to her.
Brown is originally from Ashville, North Carolina, and moved to South Florida with her husband some years back. As she and her husband began to get more involved with the art scene, "it became clear that I wanted to get my masters to be able to pursue art more at the professional level," she says. For the last three years she has been studying at the University of Miami and will graduate now at the end of this term.
"This kind of sculpture-based dream research I've been doing for many years, but it's really what I wanted to talk about and explore further while studying at the University of Miami."
The creatures and figures that Brown creates are all visions that she has experienced before in her own dreams. Though the sculptures may seem frightening and nightmare-inducing, they're really more poetic and theatrical. One looming installation of three figures that appear to be half-deer-half-man have three sleeping women at their feet, this piece is called The Weird Sisters after the characters from Shakespeare's Macbeth.
The whole exhibition is very much about dreaming, she says, adding how she sees "the whole exhibit as being a metaphor for the mind, but also as being kind of specific instances of actual dreams."
"My process is very much about trying to get a philosophical or scientific understanding of dreaming through the examination of my own dreams. Dreaming is really kind of lost on science right now, it's something that's very much unexplained, and yet it's something that we each do every night, regardless of how much we remember. I think it's kind of a borderland, and that's why I called the show 'Borderland' - it's this area between something that is real and something that is not real."
Brown recalls always being a vivid dreamer, and as a kid crawling into bed with her parents every morning to tell them about her dreams. Talking about them allowed her to better remember her dreams and strengthen her memory as she grew older.
Instead of telling her parents what she dreamt about last night, Brown now takes her dream-recall to the studio. She still has vivid dreams, and one thing she has noticed is how there are certain characters and places "that would be repeated between various dreams." It is those repeated images that Brown has sculpted for "Borderland."
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Brown describes her process of creation as varying with different methods: "from sculpting with clay to using found objects, I then make this three-dimensional collage, take a mold of it, and then I cast that to create a uniform sculpture." The figures themselves are made out of plaster, reinforced with fiberglass, and are hollow.
At the end of March, the exhibit comes down and Brown's work will go back to her studio for a brief amount of time before it starts traveling; "I'll be having a solo show in Valencia College in Orlando next winter and spring and various exhibitions in between."
"Borderland" is currently on display until March 31 and is available for viewing by appointment only. Call 305-284-3161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.