Bass Director Silvia Karman Cubina Mixes Baroque and Pop Culture

Categories: Art
From "Human Rites"
What does a baroque altar piece depicting the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus have to do with a pair of incandescent pink and purple ghetto-fabulous sneakers? At the Bass Museum, it's the clever juxtaposition of historical and contemporary art that generates dialogue and enhance public interest.

"We want to become the place where art history and contemporary art come together to inspire conversations," says Silvia Karman Cubina, the Bass's executive director and chief curator. "I would like the museum to become a destination where families and young people come to hang out on Sundays and experience art in a non-traditional way."

Since taking control of the museum's reins a little over a year ago, Cubina has turned the Bass on its head. During the last edition of Art Basel she organized "Where Do We Go From Here?: Selections From La Colleccion Jumex, " representing one of the largest privately held collections of contemporary art in Latin America. The stateside debut of the Mexico-based collection marked a major coup for Cubina and was arguably one of the most talked about and visited local shows during the December fair.

Gabriel Kuri's wheelbarrow of Christmas ornaments.

Since then, the dynamic curator has also rescued a mummy from obscurity and launched the Egyptian Gallery at the Bass, which features the ancient stiff and a collection of rare artifacts on permanent display in the only space of its kind in the entire state.

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Bass director Silvia Karman Cubina.
"My goal has been to integrate a variety of different and interesting works and artifacts from the museum's collection for the public to discover them in a new and exciting way," Cubina explains.

"In our current show we have juxtaposed many historical pieces alongside new works from various local collections to encourage novel interpretations and approaches to experiencing a museum exhibit. The community has been very supportive of our efforts."

"It's quite a privilege to have these historical art resources in Miami. By placing them in a new context next to contemporary art it allows a broader understanding of how art history has evolved and appeals to young audiences who might be more interested in cutting-edge art as well," the curator adds.

Cubina's thumbprint is all over the museum's current exhibit "Human Rites," which she organized along with the Bass's adjunct curator Steve Holmes. The exhibition explores ritual through art and features everything from 15th and 16th century devotional altar pieces and statutes alongside skull-staving works by top-drawer contemporary names.

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