In a society currently fully immersed in their cell phones or assorted mobile devices, it’s actually an act of radicalness for an artist to invite folks out to play. And that's what artist Stella Ray does at her solo at Bas Fisher Invitational.
“My hope is that people attending will find creative ways to participate in the show,” says the Colombian-born artist Stella Rey who splits her time between Miami and New York. “Whether they are actively watching, dancing, contributing their own materials, or getting their hands dirty and painting alongside me. My goal is not to be alone; that’s where the show stems from.”
The basic principle of the show lies within the now long-gone tradition of staying out late with neighborhood friends playing in the streets. This might be a hard sale for explanation concerning the current generation of savvy techies who’d be lost when confronted with an old-timey pay phone. Perhaps I’m being too harsh and oversimplifying Rey’s objectives, or rather, charging them with too much to do.
As she explains, “the work constantly evolves based on the viewers who are active participants. I want everyone attending to feel open and have free range to make collaborative mistakes.” But even as explanation, this, her first solo exhibit in Miami in over a decade might come off as a fun happening laden with impromptu energy that reminds me of the 2006 Melissa Diaz curated group show “I Used to Believe…” at the old David Castillo Gallery.
The spirit that underpins Rey's show certainly runs within the lines of the Bas Fisher Invitational’s (BFI) mission. “This exhibition is one I’m particularly proud to host,” says BFI Director Naomi Fisher, “Stella Rey is an artist that has been working under the radar for over a decade. In the late ‘90s, she was the first female artist to have a solo show at The Box, an alternative artist-run space, formerly run by Manny Prieres and Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova and has now returned to Miami after 13 years in New York. The way she makes art is generous and collaborative and embodies the spirit of community building which is at the heart of BFI’s mission.”
Maybe it’s my own cynicism and perhaps hypocrisy that pushes me to wax pedantic on how the youth has it so easy and give a patina of nostalgia to Rey’s work as I struggle to concentrate between these words and a rousing round of Candy Crush (please, go ahead and clue me in as to how passé the game has become by now), but I do know how a little bit of human touch.
Rey, an experienced artist, obviously knows more than she lets on. While this might be bordering on saccharine overload, Rey’s whimsy might exactly be the best tool to get folks into the BFI for a little interactive fun and a surreptitious lesson in bettering the human race. Rey wants you to understand that you are not alone.
But she does put it best: “the whole process should be a fun way to interact with strangers. I’ll have paint, paper and fabric but hopefully someone brings glitter!”
So do come out and play. It is that simple. But do bring the glitter.
Stella Rey’s Dance with Me: Leaving the Solo Behind? opening and performance from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, April 24, at Bas Fisher Invitational, 100 NE 11th St., Miami. Visit basfisherinvitational.com.