MIAMI—In its 28th edition, Art Miami (December 5 – December 10, 2017) is the city’s longest running art fair maintaining its position as one of the country’s preeminent modern and contemporary art fairs. Art Miami features works from more than 140 international galleries and 961 artists from 22 different countries and 60 cities.
Cfile.org’s top artist pick from this year’s art fair is American graffiti artist, poet, community activist, educator and potter Roberto Lugo.
“The growth in Lugo’s art over the last two years has been breathtaking, now a full force to be reckoned with.” —Garth Clark.
Garth Clark named Lugo one of Cfile.org’s Top Artists to Watch in 2016.
Lugo is becoming increasingly popular for his ceramics as activism approach to making art, which he says is informed by his experiences growing up as a indigent minority. His work, he says in an interview on public radio station WPSU, aims to deface social inequality by giving voice to those who have been disregarded or silenced. This is especially evident in his work New Slaves. In writing about his work, Lugo explains he is always seeking ways to approach the conversation of tolerance especially with those who of oppositional beliefs.
“I see my work and life as a bridge to connect the people from poor and underrepresented communities to be in the conversation of the arts. The 2 most iconic images in Ceramics are the black and orange of Greek pottery and the blue and white of Asian Ceramics. When I think of orange and black I think of the prison outfits that have been unjustly applied to my loved ones and I think of how close it could have been me. I think of them working 15 hours a day in these outfits for pennies on the dollar and supervised by men on horses—new slaves. This mix of imagery is how I see new discourse coming together by putting many cultures right next to one another and seeing how we can work together harmoniously.”
The juxtaposition of styles, times and cultures that characterize Lugo’s work is not necessarily to emphasize these differences, but to shed light on commonalities. Drawing together hip-hop, history and politics, Lugo paints portraits of Frederick Douglass and Colin Kaepernick on fine porcelain so as to normalize these images. In fact, he tell WPSU, he’s looking forward to his work becoming boring.
“If putting a person of color on a pot is somehow a juxtaposition or exciting, or revolutionary, that means we’re at a certain part of the world where that hasn’t been done yet, but when people are exhausted by it or just feels like it’s sort of run of the mill, then that means they’re used to that. For me that’s really exciting.”
Also he wins best title, which pays tribute to the Oxford comma punctuation debate, with his digital panda print “Eats Shoots and Leaves.”
Lugo said in his fantastic and inspiring Instagram that he thinks was a self portrait asking people to consider how we relate to one another.
“Let’s think of all the ways we can find unity in the world within which we exist.”
Watch Roberto Lugo’s Emerging Artist presentation, which launched him into the spotlight, at NCECA 2015.
This is a long one, but here’s another video of Lugo’s Ghetto Pots lecture in 2016.
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