June 7 - August 18, 2019
When inanimate objects reflect cultural concerns, historical narratives, and playful humor, it becomes clear that artists project their impressions of history into figurative works to better understand contemporary society. The sculptures, puppets, and installations in Personify engage new audiences and ask for participation. Art-making activities will be available for gallery visitors and tour groups in an immersive installation by Jim Hammond, marionettes will be on view and engaged with for the opening of Pablo Cano’s work, and an installation about the life and inventions of Nikola Tesla by Jeanne Jaffe will hang delicately from the Immersive Gallery ceiling. Body textiles by Israeli artist, Gili Avissar reflect his time spent in Miami this past spring at Fountainhead Residency. Other local artists will include figurative works that reference the idea of personification through inanimate objects.
Pablo Cano is a pioneer among South Florida artists and is regarded as a premier artist in his field of puppetry. Born in Havana, Cuba in 1961, Cano was on the last flight out of the country before the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. He has lived in Miami’s Little Havana since, creating puppets, marionettes and performance sets from discarded debris he gets from trash bins, thrift shops, and admirers who support his work. His influences include Cubist bricolage, the color palette of Russian Constructivist Alexandra Exter, who assembled marionettes in the 1920s, and the mechanics of the pieces in Alexander Calder’s “Circus.” His cast of personified characters include oceanic sirens, ’20s flappers, dancing ants, and a Mona Lisa that has a candy box for a head, a birdcage for her torso, and bits of rope for her joints. Selected by New Times as South Florida’s Best Artist in its 2011 “Best of” issue, Cano said in a recent article, “My father encouraged me to pursue my dreams and often stated that he preferred I struggled as an artist than work at something that oppressed my imagination and spirit.”
Jim Hammond has won much-deserved acclaim in Broward County for helping popularize the annual Florida Day of the Dead celebration held each November since 2010 in downtown Fort Lauderdale. After receiving his MA in Puppetry Design from the University of Connecticut, Hammond created Sideshow Productions in 1996 and has since designed personified objects for such clients as Florida Grand Opera, New World Symphony, Florida Philharmonic, and Broward Center for the Performing Arts. In 2002, he worked in the puppet department of Disney’s The Lion King national tour and is past Executive Director of the Puppet Festival of the Americas.
Jeanne Jaffe is the recipient of fellowship grants from the Gottlieb Foundation, the Independence Foundation, Mino Artist Residency in Japan, and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mid Atlantic/NEA. the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Leeway Foundation, the Virginia A. Groot Foundation, and was twice a sculpture discipline finalist for the Pew Fellowship in the Arts. Jaffe has had artist’s residencies fellowships at Yaddo Artists Colony, Rutgers’s Innovative Printmaking Workshop, New Jersey Printmaking Council, Schuylkill Center, Yellow Springs Institute, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She is a Professor of Sculpture at the University of the Arts. She has also taught at Tyler School of Art and Swarthmore, as well as in a multi-disciplinary program at the Annenberg Center Arts in Education Program at the University of Pennsylvania.
As multi-disciplinary artist, born in Haifa in 1980, Gili Avissar currently lives and works in Tel Aviv. Avissar gained his B.F.A and M.F.A at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and since then has been creating large-scale textile installations and videos. Avissar is the recipient of The Israeli Ministry of Culture and Sport Prize for Young Artists (2012); The Rabinovich Art Foundation Award (2012, 2010) and the Isracrard and Tel Aviv Museum Prize for Israeli Artist (2010).
Personify is funded in part by a Cultural Tourism Program grant from the Broward County Board of County Commissioners as recommended by the Broward Cultural Council and Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau; the Hollywood Community Redevelopment Agency; and Visit Florida.