Press Release

October 27, 2022

South Florida artists receive $500,000 in funding as Oolite Arts celebrates the 5th Anniversary of The Ellies, Miami’s Visual Arts Awards

(Oct. 27, 2022) MIAMI BEACH – Oolite Arts revealed the 2022 winners of The Ellies, Miami’s Visual Arts Awards, during a special awards ceremony Wednesday at The Bass celebrating the program’s fifth anniversary. The program is providing a share of $500,000 in game-changing funding to 45 South Florida-based artists and K-12 art teachers, helping them bring projects to life and elevate their careers.

Over the past five years, The Ellies program has provided $2.5 million in support to more than 200 South Florida visual artists and teachers.

The diverse group of emerging and celebrated artists will use the funding for a range of projects that explore grief in the wake of an ongoing pandemic, declining abortion rights and climate change, among other topics. Several artists including Smith Durogene and Clara Toro, will use art as a lens to examine Miami’s changing neighborhoods. Other projects are designed for community participation, including Yi Chin Hsieh’s “The Dinner Party,” where participants will be served limited edition artworks instead of food.

Past Ellies recipients have exhibited their work at the Venice Biennale and 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.

“When we started The Ellies, we wanted a way to honor our founder Ellie Schneiderman and her mission to help artists help themselves. The impact has been far deeper than we could have imagined. With funding from The Ellies, artists have stretched their skills and practices, securing the kinds of opportunities that can make their careers,” said Dennis Scholl, president and CEO of Oolite Arts.

At Wednesday’s event, eminent artist Robert McKnight received the prestigious Michael Richards Award, a $75,000 honorarium given to an artist who has reached the highest levels of professional distinction while giving back to the community. As a member of The Miami Black Artist Workshop and KUUMBA Artist Association, McKnight has worked to generate opportunities for greater professional visibility for African-American artists. He has created a series of public art commissions in Miami-Dade County and has had numerous solo shows at the Art Gallery of Florida Atlantic University, Gallery Antigua, Amadlozi Gallery at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center and Bakehouse Art Complex, among other places.

In addition, Rev. Houston R. Cypress is the first environmental artist to receive the Social Justice Award, which honors a visual artist who has made a commitment to working for equality in their daily lives and artistic practice. Through his organization, Love the Everglades Movement, Cypress, a poet, artist and activist from the Otter Clan of the Miccosukee, has advocated for improved water quality in the Everglades and for coalition building, bringing interfaith groups, LGBTQ+ and people of color to meet with the indigenous people of the Everglades. In his artistic practice, Houston explores and articulates Queer Ecological Knowledge through community-based artistic, mystical and shamanistic techniques, including deep listening, ceremony, pilgrimage and service.

The Ellies are named for Oolite Arts’ late founder Ellie Schneiderman, who had the foresight to turn empty storefronts on Lincoln Road into artist studios. Today, Oolite Arts is one of the largest visual artist support organizations in Miami, with programming that includes The Ellies, residency programs that cultivate the careers of emerging artists, the professional development series Skills and more. Oolite Arts will move to its new headquarters in 2024, making it possible for the nonprofit to further expand its programming and provide opportunities to both artists and the community to engage with their work.
The Ellies are presented in four categories: the Creator Award, which offers grants for artists to realize significant visual arts projects; Teacher Travel Grants, which enable art teachers to travel for professional development and bring back their experience to enrich their classroom curriculum; the Michael Richards Award, which is named in honor of the late artist Michael Richards and recognizes an eminent artist who has given back to the community throughout their career; and the Social Justice Award, which honors a visual artist who has made a commitment to working for equality in their daily lives and artistic practice.
The Creator Award and Teacher Travel Grant Winners are listed below.

Creator Awards

Fola Akinde
Yoruba Mappings
For a body of work that explores the revitalization of the spirituality and practice of the Yoruba religion in Miami

Margaret Cardillo
Jane the First
For a documentary on Jane Chastain, the first female sportscaster in America who got her start right here in Miami at WTVJ and faced a reception that was controversial at best

Carolina Casusol Valle
In Conversation with My Fellows
For a body of work that focuses on the stories of Latin American immigrants in the U.S. coupled with 104 species of flora that flourish in dry, hot and rock environments despite the adversities

Rose Marie Cromwell
King of Fish
For a book of photographs that tells the story of Coco Solo, a former U.S. military base in Panama, that was repurposed as a public housing community and eventually demolished to become a container yard serving the Panama Canal

Carolina Cueva
In Being, In Space: Form and Care
For a sculptural installation that reimagines everyday objects in Western homes to reflect modern day indigenous identities and cultures

Cara Dodge
This Bitter Earth
For a short narrative film focused on the iguana. a symbol of queerness viewed as “other,” that is being hunted by those seeking to maintain hierarchy and order

Smith Durogene
Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
For a photography series that captures the changing character of South Florida’s neighborhoods in the face of new development

Liz Ferrer
[Cries in Spanish]
For a bilingual episodic web series that follows the stories of Latinx and queer characters living in the United States. The work is inspired by a viral meme of the tear-stained face of novela villain Soraya with the ironic subtitle “Cries in Spanish”

Alexandra Fields O’Neale
For a sound art installation on Key Biscayne that uses the ocean as a narrator to describe the cyclical nature of enslavement through the Middle Passage and freedom through the Saltwater Railroad

Dara Friedman
River Hill
To create a meandering labyrinth in an industrial brownfield in Buffalo, New York that offers an opportunity for people to physically wind and unwind

Leslie Gomez-Gonzalez
olvidar, es olvidarnos (to forget, is to forget us)
For a traveling installation that consists of a blue dinner table with a woven banana leaf table runner that travels to different communities in an effort to have people share, listen, and sit together

Jayme Kaye Gershen
Six Degrees
To create a hybrid film that weaves universal stories about identity and culture that, in turn, connects a changing city

Yi Chin Hsieh
The Dinner Party
For an exhibition project where small groups will experience a dinner party setting with participating artists; however, instead of food, the participants will be served limited edition artworks and learn the stories behind them

Jacek Kolasinski
Creole Archive Project – Book Project
For a book on the historical and cultural linkages between Poland and Haiti, a connection that begins with the Haitian Revolution and continues to the modern day

Amanda Linares
Yo vengo de todas partes y hacia todas partes voy (I come from everywhere and everywhere I shall go)
For an immersive installation spurred by the artist’s discovery of her paternal great-grandfather’s stone home in Spain, which explores themes of immigration, interconnectedness and identity

T. Eliott Mansa
Room for the Living / Room for the Dead
For an exhibition that recreates the sunken living rooms popular in the 1970s as a shrine to the dead and is activated as a gathering space to play cards and dominos, or bring flowers and photographs for their departed loved ones

Francisco Masó
Interaction of Political Colors
For a limited, silk-screen edition of works that examines the use of color in totalitarian societies, based on a study of the colors and patterns worn by secret police in Cuba

Rhonda Mitrani
With Grace
For a short, experimental documentary on the life of a Cuban woman who emigrated to Miami Beach after the revolution, and uses a feminist lens to examine age and gender roles and the subtleties of machismo in Cuban-Jewish communities

Johann C. Muñoz
“entre el estampido de los cohetes y la música de varias bandas”
(“amidst the explosion of rockets and the music of several bands”)
For a transdisciplinary performance chronicling the American journey of Numa Equís, an accordion player from Magdalena, Colombia, and her transforming relationship with musical traditions and identity

William Osorio
The Path to the Volcanoes
For a series of large-format paintings exploring the recent mass exodus of Cubans after the protests of July 2021 and the Cuban government’s assault on civil liberties

Jee Park
Close to Home
For an exhibition exploring the rise of violence against Asian-Americans based on the Suui, a traditional Korean burial garment, used as a gesture of love and regard for the deceased

Larissa Perez
The Grove
For a photograph and interview series documenting some of Miami’s earliest settlers, the Bahamian community, in Coconut Grove as a way to share its history and cultural heritage

Lee Pivnik
Symbiotic House
To develop a habitable shelter and art and ecology center in the Redland. Which will serve as a model for a Miami facing the compounding crises of climate change, housing insecurity and income inequality

Victoria Ravelo
Our Inheritance / Those Who Come After
For an exhibition centered on the personal and collective memories of the Latin American and Caribbean diaspora

Ema Ri
Flower Columns
To continue the thread of love, time and memory by creating columns made with resin and dehydrated flowers from the artwork “Here With You”

Oscar Rieveling
For an exploration and performance of mariachi music focused on the musicians by answering the question: Who serenades the serenaders?

Coralina Rodriguez Meyer
For an exhibition that is a healing sanctuary for black, brown, and queers bodies made up of documentary sculptures and moving images created in collaboration with reproductive health crisis survivors, allies and justice leaders

Anastasia Samoylova
For a photographic exhibition that explores Florida’s many contradictions – beach vs. swamp, wealth vs. poverty – and pairs Walker Evans’ photographs from 1934 with contemporary images by the artist

George Sánchez-Calderón
For a marionette show based on the movie Scarface and its seminal story of Miami, immigration and the “American Dream”

Carlos Sandoval de León
Light Stream
For a public artwork that honors the experiences of Latin American migrant workers and is part of an initiative commemorating underrecognized narratives and their connections to Miami’s roots in the American South

Smita Sen
Geology of Longing
For a series of experimental dance films where the artist traces her deceased father’s geological research across the globe and investigates the ways that the human body and the planet preserve memories of life after death

Dainymar Tapia
In the Company of Women: At Large
For an exhibition by South Florida-based women artists that provides them with the ample space to develop and display ideas they are working on

Robert Thiele
And Elsewhere
For a survey catalog documenting the artist’s body of work, allowing for a new scholarship on his achievements and contributions to Miami’s art scene

Clara Toro
Eight Minutes
For an outdoor photo exhibition installed in open spaces in Wynwood, telling the stories of longtime residents – including a family whose home was torn down in 8 minutes

Cornelius Tulloch
Porch Passages
For a series of artistic architectural installations in Liberty City and a digital archive that hosts a storytelling space for Black and Caribbean dialogue, history and creativity as rising tides and gentrification change the fabric of Miami’s inland minority neighborhoods

Monica Uszerowicz
Dreaming as the Water Rises
For a poetic essay and zine based on the dreams of Florida residents about climate change and exploring how the climate crisis is affecting people

Nadia Wolff
For a ceremony that honors the weight of the Atlantic coastline for Afro-diasporic queer people and includes a performance around the braiding of a person’s hair into a basket structure on the crown of their head

Antonia Wright
Women in Labor
For a generative sound art installation that protests the changing laws around access to safe and legal abortions. Through computational algorithms, the piece sonically amplifies the increased mileage a woman will now have to travel across states to access reproductive care

Ricardo E. Zulueta
Speculative Cyberscapes
For a site-specific installation comprised of textured paintings depicting technological networks and accompanied by an experimental 3D video animation engendering a liminal space of contemplation


Jose Luis Garcia
New World School of the Arts
To travel to New York to visit museums and archives and attend photography workshops that will help spark his students’ interest in black and white darkroom photography and other non-digital photographic processes

Juan Alejandro Landaverde
Homestead Middle School
To travel to Japan to study the art and history of printmaking and traditional Ukiyo-e prints to create a curriculum focused on Japanese culture and artistic practices for his students in Homestead

Mark Russell
Jose de Diego Middle School
To travel to Europe to study art history in order to bring back new lessons to his students in Wynwood about the rich history and methods of art-making

Silvana Soriano
Morningside K-8 Academy
To travel to a residency in Spain to learn the art of Mokulito, a Japanese lithography that uses wood instead of stone and screen printing, to complete a printmaking curriculum for fourth and fifth grade students

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 Follow @oolitearts on social media.


Rachel Pinzur, Pinzur PR, [email protected]