Mar 22,2017
Author: Ayana Malaika Crichlow     Publication: The Huffington Post

Have you ever had one of those days that you didn’t want to forget? One of those days that made your dreams seem possible. I recently had one of those days and I am still soaring from the experience. My mantra/prayer the previous week was to be able to do what I loved for a living not just as a hobby and although I haven’t quite accomplished this goal, I do feel more hopeful that one day soon it will all come together. I was so graciously invited by the Zakarin Martinez Public Relations (shout out to Frances and Jorge for being so kind and attentive) to attend the art talk for Jaume Plensa the incredible artist from Catalonia, Spain, but really and truly, visionary would be a better description.

The Art Talk took place at one of my favorite places, the Perez Art Museum Miami, where I was fortunate enough to meet and speak with both the Phenomenal Artist Jaume Plensa and Art Aficionado, Mogul, and namesake of the Museum, the incomparable Mr. Jorge Perez.

Both these inspiring human beings are truly examples of what being human is all about. To try and understand others’ experiences and empathize is what life’s all about because we all have different journeys and can learn from each other’s travels in this life.

This message rings true with Jaume Plensa’s Awilda,” an immense sculpture of a young girl’s serene expression with her eyes closed, is both majestic and humbling. Lucky for us living in Beautiful Miami, it has found a home at The Perez Art Museum Miami. It is a portrait of a 14 year old girl in Barcelona who is from the Dominican Republic and is moving to Spain for a better life. This prolific artist informed us that this piece pays homage to the invisible people looking for a better life. A struggle many of us immigrants can relate to: leaving everything we know behind for the hopes of a better future. He states that many of his pieces have closed eyes because the focus is within. The key, he says, “Is what happened inside yourself, how much beauty we are feeling inside.” This epic piece of art is of great magnitude physically, emotionally and spiritually and was first placed in Brazil in the water. The artist has an affinity for the water as a location for his dynamic art and I must agree that the surrounding of the water is a perfect backdrop for his sculptures although as he jokingly chides, much to his mother’s dismay he cannot swim or even float.

But “Awilda” is just the tip of the iceberg for Senor Plensa; his many works from his “Together” masterpiece, which was displayed at the Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, consisted of a transcending, ethereal, transparent, shadow-like Godhead of a young girl, hands in a blessing pose made of letters from 8 alphabets, and Giant Heads of young girls of different races made of alabaster. The piece is meant to embrace many cultures and depict that together we can achieve more.

So here is what amazes me with this piece, (and if you haven’t guessed it’s a favorite of mine) although the head is of monstrous proportions, the mesh material used makes it almost invisible or phantom-like, kind of like the many immigrants of the world, existing in a ghost-like existence in their respective societies, contributing in a major way culturally, financially and to the labor force of course, but not having much of a say in how the society is run or governed. Their immense presence is virtually invisible and hidden. Beyond all the symbolism I saw in this piece, I especially love that I can see myself and features in the features of the face. Yes, folks, I relate to this piece on a personal level.

Honestly, I think I can talk forever about the kind, peaceful spirit of Jaume Plensa, but I will close with his piece “The Crown Fountain” in Chicago, Illinois. This interactive piece entails two larger than life LED screens that feature different faces of over 1000 people that the artist recorded for the project. The two faces displayed purse their lips and spout the water from the fountain.The faces are all of varying ethnicities and from different stations in life and are separated by a shallow pool. The two faces, he has explained, are actually in conversation with each other and the pool in which the visitors are encouraged to wade in represent their conversation creating life. This is the phenomenal mind and thought process of this human. He fills the world with his art and by extension his love.

In my short but soul enriching conversation with him, I noted that he was present, that he listened to what was asked intently and that he answered with thought.

From my and my daughter’s questions, I learned that he does not have a favorite piece, that all the faces from his sculptures are from real people that crossed his path in life and I learned that the way he conceptualizes his work in his mind is most times how it manifests in the physical.

What I have learned from him beside the obvious of love for all, is that you can use your passion, your gift to affect the world in a positive, even gentle way. You can nudge the universe toward love, and do so in a beautiful and humbling manner. I am in awe of this genius, savant. He makes me want to be a better human, to be part of the solution instead of the problem.

Email the Author: Ayana Malaika Crichlow: [email protected]

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