TM Sisters Aim to Launch Miami Artist Co-Op With Help of Knight Foundation

The TM Sisters want to fill a void in Miami's cultural landscape, and they hope the Knight Foundation can help. The sibling artist duo has a plan that could benefit the entire Miami art scene: an artist co-op.

Tasha and Monica Lopez De Victoria are one of 75 finalists in this year's Knight Arts Challenge South Florida. Florida artists born and bred, the sisters have long been a part of the Miami art scene. They are well-known for working in every medium imaginable; besides painting and computer programming, their multimedia works have included performances on skates and synchronized swimming. Monica, who graduated with a BFA from Florida International University, says she and her sister, who has a BFA from The New World School of the Arts, Miami, have been working in Miami since "before Basel/basil was more than an herb."

They bring a special perspective to the scene by not only having worked in it for many years but also having exhibited works in New York, London and Oslo, among other cities. "So many other cities have co-ops," notes Monica, "but Miami has been a bit slower when it comes to these things. We've seen how these co-ops in other locations have helped to take creators' ideas to further levels by giving them bigger possibilities."

They have witnessed firsthand some of the many mundane binds that have affected the production of work by fellow local artists. "Many times the costs of equipment delays or even stops the project," Monica offers.

She and her younger sister have based their model on what they have seen work in other cities. "It will be set up like many other co-ops," she says. "It will have members who join at certain levels (individual, institution, etc.) to get access and training to rent/use the equipment at much lower costs than what it would be at a normal production company or fabricator. Some of the larger things will be at the Downtown Art House and others will just be stored there."

It sounds like a practical idea, but Monica sees it as something even more valuable: an important measure in the creative process. "Community coming together is what moves things forward," she explains. "Miami's creative community has been a growing teenager and has become wiser ... it is now supporting more of the bright, strong and vibrant passions that happen here. By the time the community gets something together culturally, the individuals shoot forward at lightning speed using the new resources available to their full and amazing possibilities in our tropical creative powers."

It's more than access to certain tools to craft their work. For the TM Sisters, it's about empowering artists so they can broaden their craft and make them more fruitful with less restraint. "This project will be self-sustaining," states Monica, "and we would love to get community feedback as it grows and shifts according to what our city needs and desires. We will have a workshop series where we can bring in international creators to teach specific skill sets and even take proposals to hire locals to teach courses that are open to the community and significantly cheaper for the members."

With their proposal to Knight, it's clear the TM Sisters have a deep affection for the city that inspires them, and they only want to see it flourish further. Monica concludes, "Creators in Miami are amazing and at the crossroads of so many types of genres, cultures, mediums, etc. It is a mega crashing and combining and collaborating type of place. Here is where new brain waves, ocean waves and creative currents come together. This is where accessible resources are needed. New ideas are bred with new possibilities."

Follow Hans Morgenstern on Twitter @HansMorgenstern.

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