Oct 25, 2023
Miami artists and art teachers receive share of $500,000 to bring ideas to life at The Ellies, Miami’s Visual Arts Awards, presented by Oolite Arts
The big reveal took place during an art-filled, inaugural fundraiser for Oolite Arts at Pérez Art Museum Miami
(Oct. 25, 2023) MIAMI – Oolite Arts announced the 2023 winners of The Ellies, Miami’s Visual Arts Awards, at a dazzling event at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). The Ellies provide $500,000 for career-defining projects by Miami-based artists and art teachers, helping them bring their biggest artistic ideas to life.
With new funding, twin brothers and artists Elliot and Erick Jimenez will explore the blending of Catholic saints and Afro-Cuban Orishas in a photographic installation. Filmmaker Monica Sorelle, whose award-winning film “Mountains” is traveling to film festivals across the country, will examine the human history of The Everglades in a new work. Meanwhile, Sean Mick will use augmented reality to create a virtual sculpture of banned books, and Elle Barbieto will produce a series on Florida’s women cattle farmers, rodeo queens and motorcyclists, which will serve as an exploration of people and place in the quickly growing state.
These artists are just a few of the 45 artists winning awards.
“Miami’s reputation as a vibrant arts scene is a reflection of its artists. The Ellies play a pivotal role in nurturing their aspirations and turning their visions into reality,” said Marie Elena Angulo, Oolite Arts Board Chair. “This year, we’re thrilled to support 45 talented individuals, aligning with the vision of our founder, Ellie Schneiderman, to ‘help artists help themselves.’
All were feted at PAMM, with a moving ceremony and a Miami-infused party with music by Grammy-winning music artist Walshy Fire, and artistic activations by Ellies alumni Leo Castañeda and Diana Eusebio. Sponsored by Bacardi, PAMM, Plant the Future and South Beach Wines, the event’s proceeds support Oolite’s holistic program that helps artists excel at all stages of their careers.
At Wednesday’s event, Oolite Arts also bestowed significant awards – including a new honor – to three arts pioneers in Miami-Dade County:
In addition, with Oolite funding, four Miami-Dade County art teachers will travel around the world this summer and bring back their experiences into their classrooms to share with their students.
More information on all the awardees is below.
Named in honor of Oolite Arts’ founder Ellie Schneiderman, The Ellies are bestowed in five categories: Creator Awards, for artistic projects, Teacher Travel Grants, the Michael Richards Award, Social Justice Award, and now the Service to the Arts Award.
Over the past six years, Oolite Arts has invested $3 million in funding to artists through The Ellies. Past Ellies recipients have exhibited their work during the Venice Biennale and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, on screens across the country through Amazon and Apple TV, and in Miami have turned the concrete columns beneath the Metrorail into playful Dominos.
Michael Richards Award Winner
Cano is a much-loved and celebrated artist, curator, scholar, and former Miami-Dade Public Library System liaison. She played a formative role in developing the library’s formidable art collection, also overseeing innovative public programs, commissioning murals, such as Purvis Young’s, and hosting the first exhibition of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s famous Surrounded Islands project, which Cano and colleague Barbara Young also helped facilitate. Cano’s tireless contributions to Miami’s nascent art and literary evolution, including leadership roles in the Miami Book Fair, Cuban Museum, and Center for the Fine Arts, led to a CINTAS “lifetime achievement” award – more than a decade ago When NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale hosted her 90th-year retrospective in 2022, Director and Chief Curator Bonnie Clearwater characterized Cano’s work as “a portal into a celestial world, in which memories are transformed into sacred visions of life and loss.” Cano’s vital, ongoing practice – comprising drawings, photos, books, sculpture, prints, and painting – often features detailed, dream-like landscapes, nostalgically evoking her Cuban childhood.
Social Justice Award Winner
Dinizulu Gene Tinnie
Tinnie is a New York-born, Miami-based visual artist and designer, writer, retired educator and community activist in historical preservation, cultural affairs, and issues of social justice. His academic background is in foreign languages, literature, and linguistics. His lifelong attraction to artmaking, however, was reawakened as a Fulbright scholar in Europe and continued to grow in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and, ultimately, Florida, where his local career – especially as a proactive force for historic change – was catapulted when he joined the Miami Black Arts Workshop in Coconut Grove in 1974. Here, his art became inseparable from social action and includes, most significantly, a longstanding and ongoing Middle Passage Ship Replica Project, “a journey as much as a destination” to “tell the story that must be told,” virtually and physically, of our shared collective heritage.
Service to the Arts Winner
A seasoned arts leader, Dennis Scholl is the former president and CEO of Oolite Arts, where he oversaw a major expansion of programming that elevates artists’ work at all stages of their careers through studio space, financial support, and professional development. Before joining Oolite Arts, Scholl served as Vice President/Arts of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, where he led the foundation’s national arts program, providing grants to cultural organizations totaling close to $200 million. Personally, Scholl has created a series of initiatives dedicated to building the contemporary art collections of major museums, and has served on the boards and executive committees of the Aspen Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, and the Pérez Art Museum – among others. In 2022, Scholl and wife Debra were named Members of the Order of Australia, one of the country’s highest honors, for their significant contributions to advancing and promoting indigenous Australian art and culture in the United States, where they developed exhibitions of contemporary Aboriginal Australian art that traveled the U.S.
As a documentary filmmaker focused on arts and culture, he has received 22 regional Emmys from the National Academy of Television Arts and Science. A visual artist with recent exhibitions in New York and Berlin, Scholl is preparing for upcoming solo exhibitions in France and the United Kingdom. In his early career, Scholl was an accountant, attorney, and entrepreneur.
Creator Award Winners
For a national print and digital publication produced locally and containing original art and articles by Black and Latino creatives that capture the pains, passions and possibilities of Miami
Susan Kim Alvarez
Big Silly Willy Paintings
For a large series of paintings that explores the artist’s family’s rich, multicultural background and humor, developed through each generation
For a series focused on women born and raised in Florida – the cattle farmers, rodeo queens, motorcyclists and more – that sheds light on the complex relationships between people, place and progress as the state faces additional development and growth
The Last of Loop Road
For a series of works on the disappearance of South Florida’s natural, untouched areas, focused on west Dade’s Loop Road
We Are Here
For a project that continues to rethink monuments and traditional commemorations by researching and creating monument models that honor immigrant groups in the U.S. that feel invisible to the public
To have and to hold
For an exhibition that reinterprets centuries-old European “cabinets of curiosities” to have them showcase Florida’s endangered marine life – as an inspiration for environmental preservation
Good Miami Project
For a project that offers pro-bono portrait photoshoots to Miami-based non-profits, to help them tell their stories while inspiring others to contribute to their local communities
For an experiential and interdisciplinary project that explores how textiles have served as instruments of subversive resistance and identity reconciliation, disrupting colonial, authoritarian rule in the Americas
La Delicada Armadura de la Abuela (Grandma’s Delicate Armor)
For collaborative photo series that documents the beauty and self care rituals of local Miami grandmothers
To better prepare Florida for a future of rising seas by bringing his participatory art project, “The Underwater,” originally launched in Miami-Dade, to coastal communities around Florida
Samuel Lopez De Victoria
For a video game art project with a peaceful narrative based on a distant future, where natural plants have merged with digital computer code to create new, sustainable power. Players become responsible for the cultivation of these plants to hack into and repair the world
El Picnic: Nereida García Ferraz, Eugenia Vargas Pereira, and Laura González Flores
For a photobook that pays tribute to and analyzes the feminist practices of the 1980s from the perspective of three Latina women artists whose trajectories intersect Miami’s cultural history. The book includes Polaroid photographs, taken in 1989 but never exhibited, that capture the artists sharing a meal in nature – as a reflection of sisterhood, feminism and sense of place
Semillas del Sol
For a series of metalworks inspired by pre-Columbian indigenous designs and created through found and industrial material that explore topics of transness/masculinity, accessibility, heritage/ancestry, and reclamation/empowerment
Birds of Paradise
For a short, hybrid documentary highlighting the contributions of Haitian pilots recruited during World War II who served as Tuskegee Airmen
“Did You Eat?”
For an interactive installation that takes the form of a communal meal – paying homage to Black mothers who have fed the community over the years
Espejos Ciego (Blind Mirrors) the restoration of Sergio Giral films
To restore films by Afro-Cuban filmmaker Sergio Giral, considered one of the most important and shunned figures of Cuban cinema
I Don’t Live Where You Vacay
For a photo project showcasing different sides of Miami that tourists usually don’t get to see, and focusing on problems that Miamians face every day
The Grande Frolic
For an artful dance and experimental film celebrating Black men joyfully engaging with nature, as a way to encourage more people to embrace the outdoors and experience nature’s beauty without reservation or restraint
Elliot & Erick Jimenez
La Capilla Amarilla/ The Yellow Chapel
For a photography installation that explores the intersection of art and religion, specifically the Orishas within the Afro-Cuban Lucumí, syncretized with the Catholic saints in Cuba
Edny Jean Joseph
For a suite of collages designed to explore the nuanced power dynamics at play within the United States, through the lens of a young, Black, male adult
For a short documentary that tells the story of two families, with ancestral ties to the Mayan and Incan civilizations, recounting their journey to the United States and their determination to acclimate to a new life in Miami while preserving their heritage
Maria E. Lino
For a video art piece that is an animation of dolls and drawn figures representing migrants of diverse cultures traversing unknown landscapes
Queen of the Swamp: The Saltwater Railroad
For a project that explores Miami’s Bahamian history and its vital ties to a larger cultural geography of Caribbean and Southern Black aesthetics
For a Miami-specific installation that will combine 3D modeling, video and sound – and focuses on the sea and the act of breathing
For an AR project that creates a large, 3D stack of banned – or pending – books that serves as a virtual sculpture symbolizing resistance to book banning, and grants instant access to the content of some of the books
s.a.d in the tropics
For a multi-disciplinary exhibition that uses photography, sculpture, and light-based media, as an ode to what will be lost in the future due to changing climate patterns
Las olas no tragan/ me escuchan
For a short, experimental documentary offering a portrait of undocumented Cuban-Americans and an exploration of living in between the ambiguous designations of chosen family, Little Havana, queer identity and belonging
For a short film about the multi-generational, immigrant staff of a Cuban cafeteria in Miami, forced to come to terms with each other and the city they built – when an undocumented employee is targeted by the Department of Homeland Security
For ephemeral, site-specific installations of artificial landscapes in South Florida, composed of industrial materials – in response to the social and political realities of Florida’s immigration debate.
As imperceptibly as grief
For an installation at a local church exploring the intersection of time and spirituality through video and mixed-media textile art and culminating in a series of public engagements
For a series of sculptures exploring the cultural significance of hair braiding in the Black community, as an act of resistance and empowerment, inspired by the artists’ interactions with women in the community
Intermediate Bulk Container Fountain
For a public sculpture that features a group of used IBC tanks containing water sourced from a publicly accessible fountain
Reframe/Refocus – Mapping Legacy in Miami
For a research and curatorial project that focuses on the artistic practices of women artists who have contributed significantly to the cultural landscape of Miami
Untitled Everglades Triptych
For a three-channel video exploring the human history of the Everglades and its surrounding area, told through distinct but parallel stories of migration, refuge, and displacement
For an intimate, short-form documentary following “Kyle” as they explore their hometown of San Francisco – and by extension the United States. The story is told through the lens of a permanent outsider – a queer, Asian, gender-nonconforming person.
Roscoè B. Thické III
Fabrication of Fatherhood
For a photo series that refers to the idea that cultural, social and economic factors shape and influence our understanding of what it means to be a father. The series explores how fatherhood is a social construct that is constantly being constructed and reconstructed
Miami’s Cultural Renaissance: Art Made It Happen
For a publication that captures the creative spirit distinguishing prominent artists active in Miami during two pivotal decades, documenting contributions by diverse curators, galleries, museums and non-profit spaces, and conjuring the inner workings of an evolving art community moving toward international prominence
Portraits of South Florida Climate Resilience
For a a large-scale historical painting featuring community leaders working to build coastal and community resilience while decarbonizing Florida’s energy systems
Teacher Travel Grant
Hialeah Middle School
To travel to France to attend the summer school program on Japanese carpentry at Domaine de Boisbuchet, organized by the Michelangelo Foundation
Mandarin Lakes Academy K-8
To travel to Egypt to study its art history and art making practices
Glades Middle School
To travel to Greece to learn about ancient Greek art and poetry – specifically Hellenistic art and the poetry of Sappho
Dr. Carlos J. Finlay Elementary School
To travel to Oaxaca, Mexico to study the artistic contributions of the Zapotec, learn about the properties of natural dyeing and find out how these dyes promote a healthier environment
About Oolite Arts
Oolite Arts strives to empower artists and enrich communities. Established in 1984, Oolite’s mission is to support artists and advance the knowledge and practice of contemporary visual arts. Oolite Arts creates opportunities for experimentation and innovation, and encourages the exchange of ideas across diverse cultures through residencies, exhibitions, public programs, education and outreach.
Exhibitions and programs at Oolite Arts are made possible with the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council; the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; the City of Miami Beach, Cultural Affairs Program, Cultural Arts Council; the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture; the National Endowment for the Arts; the Jorge M. Perez Family Foundation at the Miami Foundation; the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Family Foundation; and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
For more information, visit oolitearts.org. Follow @oolitearts on social media.
Marika Lynch, [email protected], 305-898-3595
Images and video available upon request