MoAD Brings a Little Gold to Miami Beach

Written by Aysha Preston, Ph.D.

Miami Art Week is one of the biggest and most anticipated times of the year in South Florida. The traffic heading to Miami Beach gets a bit more congested, the restaurants fill up sooner, and the arts and cultural centers around the city reach full capacity. While there are so many people from all over the arts world popping in and out of museums and galleries, very seldom are there spaces where black creatives and arts-minded individuals can gather in fellowship and in anticipation of what’s to come. The Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) disrupted the typical artist/curator panel discussions often presented during the week by hosting a breakfast for Miami Art Week visitors to wind down from the week’s festivities and gear up for the upcoming exhibition, Coffee, Rhum, Sugar, & Gold: A Post Colonial Paradox that will be opening Spring 2019.

In the intimate dining room of the famous Tap Tap Restaurant — a local and international favorite known for serving authentic Haitian and Caribbean cuisine — a unique and beautiful group of individuals came together on the morning of Thursday, December 6, 2018 to discuss the opening of Coffee, Sugar, Rhum, & Gold before heading off to the many Art Basel festivities around the beach. The curators of the exhibition, Dexter Wimberly, Founder and CEO of Art World Conference and Larry Ossei-Mensah, independent curator and Susanne Feld Hilberry Senior Curator at MOCAD, were present to engage with guests and offer information on this highly anticipated exhibition.

Coffee, Rhum, Sugar & Gold, which was titled with the major exports of the Caribbean in mind, will explore Caribbean identity through the artworks of 10 contemporary Caribbean-born and Caribbean affiliated artists. Representing Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Bahamas, these artists use art to communicate the complexities of power and the long-lasting impacts of colonialism in the region. Hosting the breakfast in sunny Miami Beach surrounded by the colorful aesthetic of the Caribbean, felt like a fitting and appropriate location to discuss this project. As a city with rich cultural diversity and many residents of Caribbean descent, the themes present in this exhibition really hit home and remind me to acknowledge the history of colonialism in the Caribbean when appreciating the artworks of the region — many of which are ever present in Miami’s local communities like Little Haiti, Little Havana, and throughout the Wynwood Arts District.

During breakfast, co-curator, Dexter Wimberly boldly declared, “collaboration is critical for progress.” This could not be a more fitting statement in the context of this gathering during Miami Art Week. As Wimberly discussed the importance of community and interconnectedness in this exhibition, he was surrounded by artists, art collectors, museum educators, gallerists, scholars, and other impactful individuals in the Miami and larger arts communities. I felt honored and proud to be included in this intimate group and hopeful about the future of the exhibition and black arts generally. I felt that Wimberly’s sentiment was precise and that in order to move forward in representation — for people of Caribbean descent and for the African diaspora more broadly — spaces like this one are paramount. Coffee, Rhum, Sugar, & Gold directly addresses the effects of colonialism on the lives of millions in and of the Caribbean. Both this breakfast and the exhibition affirm that conversations surrounding the ways colonialism continues to exist in other forms are necessary in the art world and beyond.

Several of the artists are creating new site-specific installations that will connect to past series and other works. Coffee, Rhum, Sugar, & Gold: A Postcolonial Paradox will be on view at MoAD from May 8 – August 11, 2019. With such a thoughtful pre-exhibition event, I am confident that the programming for the exhibition will be relevant and engaging…and I can’t wait!

Categories:  Exhibitions & Events