Past Meets Present
Endowed with the rare gift of world-class exhibition spaces to support its educational endeavors, Miami Dade College’s Museum and Galleries of Art + Design nourished students and art lovers this spring with an exhibition lineup showcasing student artworks back-to-back with those of a living master.
Between the Museum and three campus galleries, MDC held the most inclusive retrospective of works by painter Arnold Mesches, encompassing 88 pieces on loan from around the country, including his first exhibited painting from 1945 to his most recent artwork.
In addition to the festive opening earlier this spring of the Museum exhibition A Life’s Work – Mesches’ 137th solo show, which commemorated his 90th birthday – the Museum gave the exhibition greater perspective by bringing together the artist with curator Kim Levin and Miami Rail editor Hunter Braithwaite for a gallery talk. This illuminating conversation included discussion of government surveillance during the McCarthy era, which culminated in the series of paintings The FBI Files, displayed simultaneously at MDC’s Kendall Gallery, in which Mesches incorporated actual pages from the 786-page file the agency amassed on him during the Cold War.
Mesches turned around the jarring discovery of his surveillance into art. “The idea is most important,” said Mesches, who found the blacked-out lines in his file to possess a Franz Kline-like quality. “After a while, you become aware of the beauty of things.”
From Master to Pupils
Shifting focus from this strong retrospective, MDC galleries then turned the spotlight to students in two exhibitions. At five campus galleries this spring, the annual Emerging Artists exhibitions displayed a wide variety of mediums showcasing the talents of MDC’s students, including North Campus’ Alejandro Valencia, this year’s winner of the national League for Innovation’s Student Art Competition.
Light is the focus of the Aperture exhibition, featuring the works of photography students at North Gallery. Opening in May, the show runs through July 18.
Rounding out the spring season is an exhibition of ceramics by Miami-based Japanese master potter Yoko Ito Messersmith, presented during the month of June in homage to Asian-Pacific Heritage Month celebrations at MDC’s InterAmerican Campus.