When artist Catalina Jaramillo visits the Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, she will come bearing boxes of all the journals, diaries, sketchpads, Museum of Modern Art textbooks and study manuals from her life since age 16. The worn editions, annotated with Jaramillo's memories and goals — the formative stuff of the aspiring career artist — will inhabit one spartan room at the MOAFL, where Jaramillo will stand all summer, forcing back the urge to cry.
As museumgoers look on, Jaramillo will feed everything — all 58 books and 9,830 pages — into a paper shredder.
Yes, she's counted them all. And yes, she's already said goodbye.
"I don't want to be 90 and surrounded by all this clutter of objects and art history. I want to shred the past and make space for the future," says the Hollywood performance artist, 33, whose public shredding is part of the museum's new "Who Am I to You?" group exhibition, opening Saturday. Jaramillo says she had planned to "quit the art world" last month, but that was before she won a South Florida Cultural Consortium grant, an endowment handed to visual and media artists living in South Florida.
"It was like a cosmic prank, but I thought, 'Let's keep going.' I think that my work has a social thirst, and I would rather use it to heal people who don't like art, and stop doing it for the same 25 congratulatory friends in South Florida who will support you no matter what," she says. "I want to be like a Robin Hood ninja."
Jaramillo joins 13 other South Florida Cultural Consortium winners in debuting site-specific creations in the museum's main gallery. The show is curated by museum exhibitions designer Freddy Jouwayed. He says the artists, informed in late May about their SFCC grants (prizes: $7,500 or $15,000) mobilized quickly to design ambitious projects. One includes Miami artist Juan Travieso's Cuban revolutionary-inspired painting series "Self-Portrait 1987-1997," whose acrylics depict Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos filtered through the artist's early-childhood exposure to anti-American agitprop.
Near the lobby stands Fort Lauderdale artist Leah Brown's oversize cardboard tree installation "Weird Sisters," which, at roughly 15 feet tall, terminates in three branchlike sculptures that resemble a deer, a bear and a mountain lion. At the trunk's base are thick, white-cloth-covered roots, which are actually three human figures curled in the fetal position, and whose hair meanders up the trunk like kudzu.
"These are characters that come from almost all my works, actually. I dream about them. I even have names for them: Victoria, Isabelle and Mary," Brown says with a laugh. "I'm obsessed with them, basically."
Using several sheets called diffraction grating film, Miami artist Agustina Woodgate's installation "1111" coats the museum's second-floor terrace with a kaleidoscope of reflective colors. In direct sunlight, the sheets reflect shimmers of rainbow light. On overcast days, the sheets reflect nothing.
"I call it '1111,' because it's like that rare moment in someone's day when you catch a glimpse of 11:11 on the clock or a rainbow in the sky. It's a moment of magic and hope," says the 33-year-old.
Who Am I to You? The South Florida Cultural Consortium Juried Exhibition
When: Saturday through Sept. 1
Where: Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, 1 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Contact: 954-525-5500 or MOAFL.org