Miami Artist Sara Stites on "Elaborate Webs/Striking Exploits" at the Freedom Tower

Categories: Art

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All photos courtesy of Sara Stites
Veiled at Dr. Yao's, by Sara Stites
Fall is just around the corner, and along with the slight change in weather comes the start of various seasonal events. Kicking off the 2013 fall season for Miami Dade College Museum of Art and Design is a two-person exhibit called Elaborate Webs/Striking Exploits. The two artists featured are Kansas City-based Anne Austin Pearce and local Miamian Sara Stites.

Stites is originally from New York and received her MFA from Pratt Institute, but she tells us she moved around the country and has lived in Houston, Connecticut, and the Keys, ultimately settling down in Miami. "I spent time living in Puerto Rico as a child and picked up Spanish and a love of tropical vegetation, warmth, and [Latin] culture," she says. So it's as if she were destined to reside in South Florida.

The exhibit was organized and curated by Executive Director and Chief Curator Jeremy Mikolajczak. Stites recalls how a fellow artist showed her work to Mikolajczak, "and after a studio visit, he invited me to be in the show." The title "Elaborate Webs/Striking Exploits" is Mikolajczak's ties together Pearce and Stites' works "in a physical as well as conceptual way," says Stites.

"Our work has in common the use of webs to obscure as well as delineate personal journeys. Jeremy [Mikolajczak] refers to our work as 'post feminist,' meaning that we are people artists first, as opposed to women artists." She says she's still mulling this idea over; she agrees with it and points out that the figures in her paintings that will be on display are almost all women.

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Shipwrecked, by Sara Stites
Upon our comment that some of her works resemble a unique and creative cross between Picasso and Dalí, she says Picasso prints were always on display in her house growing up, but Dalí was less revered by her mother, who is also a painter. "Abstraction has come to seem decorative to me, but using the language of both abstraction and figuration creates a hybrid that feels relevant today," she adds. "And if art is successful, it translate the moment."

On display during the exhibit will be paintings from Stites' series she labeled "grisaille." Her method for this series involved painting on a synthetic paper called Yupo, which was introduced to her by a friend. First, she creates the background using a mixture of ink and water, then she wipes down to leave a shadowy effect. "I wanted to create a space for my figures without having it be representational," she says. Then, after this dries, she uses oil paints, which she says have organic and sensual properties, to create the figures. Part of her process involves keeping a promise she makes to herself: "that I will not keep any form, no matter how seductive and pretty, if it does not 'ring true.'"

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Freedom Tower

600 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL

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