MasterMind 2014 Honorable Mention: Alex Nuñez

Miami New Times' Mastermind Awards honors the city's most inspiring creatives. This year, we received more than 100 submissions, which our staff narrowed to an elite group of 30. We'll be profiling those honorable mentions, and eventually the 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. For tickets and more information, visit the website.

For Miami-bred artist Alex Nuñez, the world is her giant canvas and her creations are mere portals into other, wild realms. Though Nuñez has lived and studied in Florence, Barcelona, New Orleans, Boston, and even New York City, she still has Miami on her mind. The artist sees her artwork as a way to pay homage to her home city, and her Cuban-American roots are a constant source of inspiration.

Cultist: How would you best describe the type of artwork you create? You mix various elements into your pieces and oftentimes let people (literally) walk all over them!

Alex Nuñez: I combine intricate, abstract mark-making with pop culture imagery to create immersive environments. My work is rooted in the tension between delicate line work, and a spontaneous staining method of dense pools of acrylic paint combined with glitter and confetti. A trail is formed of personal hieroglyphics, mimicking nature. The forms echo natural landscapes yet intersect and combine to form linear combinations that resemble cartography.

Whatever is in the studio ends up on canvas in some way, shape or form... confetti, glitter, wax, espresso, chalk pastels, paint, tequila, glue, rocks, [etc.]. I alternate the works from wall to floor, working on several pieces at a time. There are footprints all over each piece, which are the result of running back and forth between each work.

Each piece becomes a buildup of day-to-day life; the photos and objects that are found become transformed in a new space.

Is there a particular piece of flare that you enjoy working with the most? For instance, you often incorporate glitter or confetti into your pieces.

Confetti, hands down. I really enjoy the way the material picks up light and transforms a piece.

I love when a work can change from different angles.Confetti allows a certain captivating magic that works beautifully with the iridescent pigments I incorporate.

I notice that many of your pieces use vibrant colors and what appear to be palm tree branches - overall, very tropical. Would you attribute this to your Cuban-American roots and Miami upbringing?

Definitely, everything from my color choices to the forms I create. Miami is a unique place to call home and the inspirational visuals are constantly at the forefront of my work.

I believe that my work pays homage to the fluorescent and glittery palette of the city. My work also incorporates an abstract visual of aquatic life, something I was constantly surrounded with growing up near the ocean.

You mentioned in your submission how you like to create portals with your works, so where would you say your portal leads you?

I believe that this answer would vary with each viewer of my work. Personally, my portal leads me to a world in which I would get lost in the colors and explosions of energy.

I imagine it is like watching fireworks, the moment of transition between glittery explosions. This portal would lead to a space where the air is thick with the burning image of a previous marvel and a new image is born. The curious space where you imagine what is going to happen next.

Are you working on any new large-scale installations like Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls?

That piece was for my 2012 Thesis show at Hunter College. I am working on some large pieces, but a fraction of that size. That piece was 45' long and required a much larger workspace. The current series of work is on a much smaller scale and can be viewed on my site,

Wanna see more MasterMinds? At Artopia, sponsored 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.

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Carolina del Busto is a freelance writer for Miami New Times. She nurtured her love of words at Boston College before moving back home to Miami and has been covering arts and culture in the Magic City since 2013.