Mile Long Socks

"Mile Long Socks" by Martin Casuso (Martin Casuso/Courtesy / January 11, 2013)

In her art, Tina La Porta uses several media to explore mental illness and her own experiences after being diagnosed schizophrenic. "Chasing Rabbits," her most recent work, addresses the auditory hallucinations that can accompany schizophrenia.

In the recorded sound installation, La Porta reads the words of Alice (from Disney's adaptation of "Alice in Wonderland") speaking to other characters, primarily a hookah-smoking caterpillar. Meanwhile, the voice of a male medical practitioner defines conditions of hallucinations, while yet another voice whispers the size, color and shape of various pills.

"I wanted to add another layer of my own voice attempting to stave off the intensity of the experience by obsessively describing each pill in my cabinet as a way to alleviate the symptoms of the illness," La Porta says.

The finished work, created in Young at Art Museum's recording studio, will be broadcast over the museum's PA system during "No. 1," a group exhibition that opens Friday, Jan. 11. The exhibition will open during Annual Interest, the first event in a scheduled year-long series of lectures, workshops and shows by South Florida artists at the museum.


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In addition to the group show, which also includes works by Francesco Lo Castro, Leah Brown, Jonathan Rockford, Jillian Mayer and six other Florida artists, the event will include music, a raffle of 50 exhibited works, exotically flavored craft beers, Ikea Swedish meatballs and activities involving recording sessions, ceramics, printmaking and digital photography.

It's a big bash for Young at Art, established 23 years ago as a 3,200-square-foot storefront children's museum. The venue has matured since then, as has its audience, and this past May, through a public-private partnership with the Broward County Library, it opened a 55,000-square-foot facility in Davie.

"We've seen over 120,000 visitors since May, and we're pushing to really kick it up," says Mindy Shrago, Young at Art's founder and CEO.

That plan includes local artists, who Shrago hopes to see woven into every aspect of the museum's programming. Her son, Zack Spechler, is helping to achieve that goal. Spechler co-founded Bedlam Lorenz Assembly, the museum's contemporary-arts group, which is presenting Annual Interest. He also co-curated "No. 1," for which he selected artists he feels are shining stars in their respective media.

Nicole Burko will display oil paintings in which she recontextualizes fragmented memories and photographs. Martin Casuso, who confronts gender stereotypes in his work, will exhibit "Mile Long Socks," an installation he made using the 1970s crafting kit Knit Magic and yarn from unraveled thrift store afghans. Ben Morey will share "Funvision," an interactive installation that uses game-show sets, medical equipment and television to question the use of entertainment as an escape.

"This is about artists coming to us, working with us," Spechler says of Annual Interest. "Proceeds are going back to the artists with equipment, and we're getting behind them in fabrication of works they couldn't otherwise do."

Annual Interest/No 1

When: Opens 7:30-11 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, and "No. 1" runs through Feb. 7

Where: Young at Art Museum, 751 S.W. 121st Ave., Davie

Cost: $35 opening night, $235 for a raffle ticket (includes admission for two and an artwork)

Contact: 954-424-5022 or YoungAtArtMuseum.org