Neo HooDoo at Miami Art Museum

Miami Art Museum's exhibit titled "Neo HooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith" brings together artists from cultures of the Americas who explore spirituality in their work and challenge notions of "insider" and "outsider" art. Director Terence Riley states, "The artists whose work is on view in 'NeoHooDoo' are drawn from throughout the Americas, which makes it an ideal exhibition for Miami Art Museum. It complements the museum's role as a bridge between continents and cultures."

Each work's meaning seems to fluctuate according to the context in which one views it. My friend and I arrived at multiple interpretations of this piece by Pepon Osorio, some whimsical, others haunting and sobering.

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Pepon Osorio, Lonely Soul. Wood crutches, wheelchair wheels, fiberglass, styrofoam, wood, resin, photographs, 1000 pines, human hair, wood, metals.

The exhibit is mostly installations that employ found objects such as scrap wood, cardboard boxes, piano keys, silk flowers, marlin swords, shoe laces, sheepskin, signage, golf bags, and a blanket sprinkled with album dust. I was hoping to get some photos but was told "no" by a member of security. I didn't feel like getting thrown out of the museum, so I obeyed the rules, unlike some of the other museum guests. Whoever took these photos, press or not, thank you. I hope no one was kicked out of any museum for it. I'm sure no art was harmed in the process. Anyway, forgive me but once again I've succumbed to poaching the images, sources cited here.

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The Things that Drag Me
by Miami artist Jose Bedia

Miami New Times' Carlos Suarez de Jesus writes:
"Jose Bedia, an initiate of Palo Monte — an African-derived religion practiced in Cuba — literally raises the hair with his powerfully charged installation The Things that Drag Me.

"Bedia has painted a double-headed, spectral figure on a wall and placed a toy bridge to span the distance between its skulls to imply that opposing minds think as one. Bedia is also a student of Native American beliefs. On the chest of the looming figure, which symbolizes Bedia himself, the artist has collaged four archival images of Lakota Indians or Kongo priests engaged in ritual ceremonies.

"The photos are placed on the upper torso in spots where cuts for ritualistic blood offerings are made during the Plains Indian Sun Dance ceremony and Palo initiation rites. Chains are anchored to these metaphorical wounds and stretch across the gallery space; they are attached to a pair of wooden boats powered by unseen forces that drag the figure to the unknown.

"The boats brim with a mysterious arsenal of ceremonial objects such as a bison's skull and bundles of sage or jagged wooden sticks and bottles of aguardiente. One of the boats relates to Afro-Cuban tradition, the other to the Native American. Both are loaded with items pregnant with religious and cultural meaning. They seem to suggest that we carry our beliefs as a blessing or burden wherever we go."

Wherever we go....there we are. There we are with our blessings and burdens.

We got a kick out of Brian Jungen's golf bag totems. At approximately 15 feet tall, the bags were deconstructed and reconstructed around a cardboard tube.

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The exhibit runs through May 24, 2009 at the Miami Art Museum, 101 West Flagler Street.

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