| Art |

Put Miami Into Focus With an Expert-Led Photowalk Through the Design District

Instructor Passion J. Ward assisting a Photowalks participant.
Instructor Passion J. Ward assisting a Photowalks participant.
Photo by Diana Larrea
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As the founder and director of Women Photographers International Archive (WOPHA), Aldeide Delgado originally sought to create a space where the stories of women-identifying Cuban photographers could feel represented and documented. From the organization’s roots in 2013, WOPHA has expanded to highlight women-identifying photographers across a range of backgrounds while maintaining its core mission to support the contributions of female creators and amplify their voices in modern and contemporary art.

Rather than the dust-covered stereotype of what an archive looks like, WOPHA’s latest programming takes the everyday participant into the sun in the form of Photowalks at MDD. A partnership between the organization and the Miami Design District, the event offers guided photography workshops while encouraging the exploration of the neighborhood.

Approached by Claire Breukel, the curator for the Design District, Delgado saw a need to increase the accessibility of the Design District to include community-oriented programming that encouraged visitors to get involved and invested.

“I believe in the power of photography as a political force to rearrange the structure of power and domination of society, and to amplify different voices," Delgado says. "For me, the opportunity of creating these workshops allows us to approach a different group of people every time that the workshop happens and also to get new conversations going about photography.”

For the inaugural workshop, Miami-based artists Amanda Björn and Passion J. Ward led participants through the neighborhood, offering insights anchored in their experience with street photography and photo tours. Photowalks guides will rotate constantly in order to give offer a different perspective with each session. The first two walks sold out, reflecting a growing interest in exploring Miami through a photographic lens.

Based on the feedback they've received, WOPHA has begun thinking about how Photowalks can grow beyond the Design District's borders. Delgado says those who have expressed interest in visiting and walking other neighborhoods reflect the demographic of those who've been signing up: Miami transplants.

Photowalks at MDD's January participants.
Photowalks at MDD's January participants.
Photo by Diana Larrea

“They want to go to Hialeah. To Little Haiti. To Miami Beach. Even the Everglades," she says. "It’s so important, even right now, to have that opportunity to get together in a safe way. What’s curious to me is who is attending, and that is mainly people who have just moved to Miami and wish to learn more about the city. We’re offering this one-of-a-kind door for them to see how the city works and engage with fellow community members.”

Participants are free to bring whatever camera equipment they wish to use: digital, film, even the camera built into their phone. Following the workshops, attendees are encouraged to share what they’ve created, using the hashtag #PhotowalksatMDD.

Beyond the walks, WOPHA’s 2021 programming is also set to include experiences that incorporate photography in the domestic space. In April, the archive will launch the second edition of Placing Political Art, an art-on-loan program created by cofounder Francisco Masó. The program invites 25 emerging, women-identifying photographers to work to bring politically driven art into homes around the city. Selected with the help of the photographer, images range in subject matter from body politics to social justice and are printed, framed, and placed in homes to act as a catalyst of empowerment for the residents.

“It is an act of solidarity, as the artist shares their work with an individual for free," Delgado explains.

Participants in the Placing Political Art program will also have their work displayed in the Design District.

In November, the rescheduled WOPHA Congress will finally take place at the Pérez Art Museum Miami. The two-day symposium aims to merge global organizations of women photographers, art historians, and curators to host a free, accessible, and interactive event that will educate the community on the latest research about women in the history of photography. The goal of the conference is also to create an ongoing, in-depth discussion about the dynamism of women photographers in the modern world.

In working to build visual-literacy skills and a profound understanding of the importance of photography, WOPHA’s written missions and key pillars have transcended into actuality as the power to explore a city through a new lens is unlocked — or in this case, uncapped.

Photowalks at MDD. Second Saturday of every month. The next session takes place 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, February 13, at Palm Court, 140 NE 39th St., Miami; wopha.org. Admission is free with RSVP via eventbrite.com.

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