beyond basel: 12 next-gen miami creatives to know

With Art Basel in full swing, we dig a little deeper to present the artistic talent that makes Miami a year-round destination for youth culture.

by Joshua Aronson, and Grant Rindner; as told to Grant Rindner
08 December 2017, 4:34pm

For the second year in a row, we shine a light on the young people contributing to Miami’s booming creative culture. All eyes are on Florida for Art Basel, and these artists, designers, models, and innovators intend to keep them there year-round.

From a rapper-novelist-designer polymath, to a spoken word artist leaving her mark on the city’s buildings, to a performer working to expand the city’s drag scene, these are some of the key figures in the city’s burgeoning creative scene.

Read about last year's Miami crew here.

Photography Joshua Aronson

Name: Akia Dorsainvil
Age: 23
What do you do? Modeling/creative direction/event production.
How does the city inspire you?
South Florida in general is going through the reconstruction era. With gentrification being at its all-time high and venues disappearing, it has left a lot of artists feeling underfed and has created a lack of space to flourish. But there’s a DIY bug going around that I think is beautiful. Everyone is coming together to figure out how they can create art and create spaces that will fill the void of lack of representation and freedom needed to continue our growth.
What’s the biggest misconception about Miami?
That there isn’t any depth here! South Florida has so much to offer the world...There are so many movements that are challenging that narrative, from the FemPower Collective to the uprising of queer identities/queer art visibility. The Third Horizon Film Festival celebrating independent filmmakers and the brilliance of Caribbean cinema. The solidarity and fellowship brewing amongst us of the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora in Miami.
What’s your vision for Miami’s future?
A true melting pot of identities and genetic makeup, in particular focusing on [those of] African/Taino descent! We haven’t really explored in-depth life post-transatlantic slave trade and how much of a lasting impact that displacing of people has had on the relationship between one island to the next. So it would be dope to see a lot more cinema, photography, and literary work centered around black and brown experiences here in South Florida.
You started hosting the “Shenanigans” series earlier this year. What inspired that?
I was inspired to create the “Shenanigan” series almost out of necessity. I wanted something cool and innovative in my county, Palm Beach. Just to show everyone, “Hey! These are the sonics me and my friends are into at the moment, and if you’re open minded and like cool new shit, you’re going dance and have just as good of a time as we are!

Name: Antonia Wright
5.4 dog years
What do you do? I’m an artist.
What’s your vision of Miami’s future?
More of all the good things, a solution for sea level rise, and I hope there is more public transportation.
What are your plans for Art Basel?
I’m debuting a new performance installation called Control at Spinello Projects. I created a piston that shoots ‘crowd control’ barricades like a gun across the gallery. It’s very intense. You've performed and had installations all over the city, what excites you about Miami as a canvas for your work?
Miami is a combination of pure beauty and sheer grittiness. I once saw a man shooting heroin under the bridge next to my studio, and then saw a family of manatees swim about a foot away from him. It is not that this excites me necessarily, but I think I’m trying to reflect these contradictions/dualities in my work. Miami is growing and as an artist I feel I’m growing with it.
What helps you recharge creatively?
The ocean! If I’m working on a project and I’m thinking through some decisions, I’ll go for a run on the beach and will always have my answer by the end.

Name: Max of Homestead
Age: 21
What do you do?
I guess at the forefront of everything is music, but I've made short films, written a book (it's not that great though) and [done] random graphic design projects here and there.
How does this city inspire you?
I'm pretty fortunate to have grown up in such a melting pot. There's all walks of life in Miami, and the lifestyles of these individuals seem to be very honest with their roots, ya know? Family and heritage play a big role down here and seeing the way everyone grew up is nice. It's like we all come from different backgrounds but there are certain things that run linear with us all.
What’s your vision of Miami’s future?
The first fully-functional underwater city.
What are your plans for Art Basel?
Find as many free events as I can and get drunk. Art Basel is hit and miss for me, but maybe I just go to the wrong places.
You work in mediums beyond music. What do you see as the connection between Expo and Hum Drum Town and The Ape and how do you balance such different creative pursuits?
To me, the connection is writing. At the root of everything I do, there's some form of writing and I just want to be great at it. Maybe I haven't even found my ultimate career yet, but I do know wherever I end up, some form of writing will be the basis of it. The balancing can be tricky. My friends make fun of me for saying it all the time, but my mantra is finding the balance in everything. The good and bad. The vice and virtue

Name: Queef Latina
Age: 26 (1991 baby!)
What do you do?
I work as a technical designer during the day, which is just a fancy modern-day term for a tailor. I do mass garment production for retailers such as Walmart, Target, Amazon, etc... Nights and weekends, I work in the nightlife industry, sometimes performing or hosting as Queef Latina, and at other times doing behind-the-scenes jobs like co-producing events, organizing photo shoots, or simply assisting other performers.
What will Miami look like in the future?
Every day I wake up and look around, and I see Miami looking more like Manhattan than the tropical paradise that it should be, and it saddens me. What makes it worse is that these developers keep on building without considering the history of the communities or the lives of locals.
How have you seen the city’s drag scene change and grow?
Traditionally, Miami's drag scene was very pageant, and all about mainstream entertainment for tourists. When I first started to dabble in drag a few years ago, I faced a lot of negativity and resistance. Other more established queens would post negative comments on social media, saying that bearded/hairy drag is not real drag, and that we needed to fit into a very outdated stereotype in order to be considered a drag queen. My favorite thing about the drag scene now is that it has become very inclusive of everyone, even the queens who used to criticize us, and it is constantly growing -- I get very excited to see the new types of performers and artists that are breaking boundaries, and not to mention drag kings, bio queens, and everything else that has emerged from this new era of drag.
What do you have planned for Wigwood 2018?
Wigwood 2018 is going to be twice as big as this year, so get ready for a lot of fun surprises!

Photography Joshua Aronson

Name: Tama Gucci
Age: 20 years old.
What do you do? Singer/songwriter/model
What’s the biggest misconception about Miami?
Definitely the perfect weather. It’ll be thunderstorm one minute and the next it’s completely sunny!
What is it like to see your music being picked up by major houses like Chanel? It’s an amazing feeling! I make all of my tunes in my bedroom, so for it to reach that far and have major houses such as Chanel and Coach play my music is pretty exciting!
How do music and fashion intersect for you?
My music is really the easiest way for me to talk about my feelings and emotions. It feels natural, and so does fashion. I believe if you look good you feel good, and when I feel good I make music about how good I feel...Sort of like a domino effect. My music speaks for me, but so does my wardrobe .
What excites you about Miami’s R&B scene and what do you want to see change about it?
What excited me about Miami R&B scene is that it’s very fresh and all the amazing R&B talents that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting are truly making what feels right to them -- it’s growing before my eyes! What I would want to see change about it is to have it be more inclusive to everyone of any gender or sexual preference and more experimental! There’s no blueprint on what R&B should be so why not do more with it!

Photography Joshua Aronson

Name: Maria Piracci
Age: 21
What do you do?
I model and I’m a social media manager and content creator. Along with creating content, I art direct and style on set for photoshoots.
What’s the biggest misconception about Miami?
I feel the biggest misconception of Miami is that everyone thinks it’s only about the clubs, naked beaches, and sugar daddies. It has such a cool scene of artists, producers, models, and creatives. It’s as if people only go to Los Angeles or New York for the cool vibes, because they see Miami from a tourist point of view.
What are your plans for Art Basel?
I mostly look forward to seeing all the artists fly down here to perform their music and everyone coming together. It’s like one big reunion!
How does Miami inspire your style and aesthetic?
Miami inspires my style so much, from the heat that lets me free the nipple and never wear a bra to all the movies that were shot here, like Devon Aoki’s style throughout [ 2 Fast 2 Furious]. I love that I can have some underboob action in my cutoff wife beaters and some 20-year-old ripped Levi’s and no one will judge me.
How do you balance your work with major national brands/publications and ones more local to Miami?
Working with local brands in Miami actually helped me out more when working with national brands. When I’m shooting in Miami, I can really be myself and go past the limits of comfort. So when I’m on set with a bigger brand, like Converse or Express, I feel so much more comfortable being myself and clients love that.

Photography Joshua Aronson

Name: Jessy Nite
Age: Too old to answer that anymore!
What do you do? I’m an artist.
What’s the biggest misconception about Miami?
That it’s all about the nightlife. Miami is best enjoyed and loved during the day, out on the water or somewhere in nature. The people who choose to stay here and make it home definitely rally around that concept.
What are your plans for Art Basel?
I have three really special commissioned works for Instagram Stories, each based on ephemerality. I will also have two new works in FAIR, the first all female and female-identifying artist fair, which is really exciting. Anthony Spinello and Zoe from Faena have curated the most incredible works for that show, not to be missed! And, lastly, I got to partner with DACRA to create an enormous building wrap in the Design District.
What’s made you gravitate towards text art and what inspires you about that medium?
Man, I guess I just have a lot to say, which, in all seriousness, is true. I do have a perspective and a narrative that I kind of weave throughout all of my text works, but text is funny because the same saying can mean so many different things to different people. And that’s where I like to play, in that space of layered meanings. Text-based work can be really impactful and is surprisingly personal to people, almost the way a song can be.
Is there an installation of yours that you think best encapsulates your Miami? If so, which?
I love “High Hopes,” it is one of my ‘sun installations’ and it’s placed in Little Haiti.To me it really speaks to the thriving versus surviving nature of this city.

Name: Andrew Downtown
Age: We started the brand in August 2016, but opened the shop in April 2017, so probably around a year old.
What do you do? We're a brand/skateshop based in Downtown Miami.
How does this city inspire you?
It's embedded in everything that we do, from the designs of our boards and gear to the videos we shoot and the events we throw. It's all Miami-oriented and inspired by Miami.
What are your plans for Art Basel?
Throughout the week, we have a ‘zine release party for our friend Danny Gonzalez from the band Jacuzzi Boys, and a new Andrew skate video premiere featuring the whole team, all at the shop. We also are designing skate ramp for the Juxtapose “Projects” space around the corner from the shop, so we will be skating that shit all week.
How did the Andrew Downtown crew first form?
Really from everyone always skating around downtown, hanging out by Manolo's - our local cuban coffee window - and bullshitting. We all seemed to have a similar attitude towards everything. We're all strong characters, but we never take ourselves too seriously. In our crew, there are artists, musicians, designers, DJs, and entrepreneurs. It’s a really well-rounded group, but it all goes back our love of skating and skate culture.
What’s unique about Miami skate culture and how does that inspire your design work for the label?
The culture of the Miami skate scene is street skating. We haven’t ever had parks to skate like how they have in California, so the skaters here are more tailored to ledges, stairs, and rails, shit you would find in the streets.

Photography Joshua Aronson

Name: Nick León
Age: 24
What do you do? I am a composer, producer, DJ.
How does this city inspire you?
The constant influx of people and cultures keep me inspired and learning. I also think the weather has a huge impact on the way my music sounds.
What’s your vision for Miami’s future?
I see the city as a hub for forward-thinking ideas and music with the same cultural influence as a place like New York or Los Angeles.
What are your plans for Art Basel?
I have a couple DJ gigs and plan on catching Björk play at Mana.
How does your more electronic solo music influence the production you do for artists like Denzel Curry and Robb Banks?
I use my own music as a way to explore sound design and textures. I try to bring those experiments into the studio when collaborating with other artists.

Name: Corey Damon Black
Age: 13581 days old, baby.
What do you do?
Art direction and design...I like to just create to be honest.
What are your plans for Art Basel?
I’m skipping art class this year.
You’ve said previously that you felt cinema was your strongest medium. Is that still the case or has your focus changed?
For the moment, yes. I’m at a point where I just wanna make art, which will bleed into film and other things, but it’s still my passion. I’ll make a movie one day. [It’s] just not my priority. [I] wanna do it when it right. I have an idea I have been working on for some time now, it’s actually three different films so when it happens I plan on doing it back to back to back!
How do you manage issues like anxiety and depression and keep them from derailing or hindering your creative process?
By creating. The more I create the less anxiety I have, same with depression. I struggle with both, but it bleeds into everything I make in some way. But it’s an everyday battle, some days are better than others, I just look at it like waves. They come and they go and eventually there’s that calm. Self awareness, I guess, is what helps me manage my whole life.

Name: Zack Mars
Age: 25
What do you do?
In short, I manage creatives/artists and throw parties.
How does this city inspire you?
I’m inspired by the melting pot of cultures, the people, and the vibe that only exists in Miami and the tropics.
What are your plans for Art Basel?
Check out some art, see some homies, have some inspiring conversations/experiences and a couple parties. Got a little party Sunday night at Basement in the Edition Hotel.
How has Miami's surge to the forefront of rap culture changed the nightlife scene?
I wouldn’t say it’s changed the nightlife scene too much, but it is dope to hear more homegrown artists songs being played for partygoers who are traveling to Miami from all over the world.
Do you think Miami is a difficult city to make a name for yourself in the music or fashion industries?
I think it’s difficult to make it in music or fashion no matter where you’re from. However, i think the internet leveled the playing field in that if you’re consistently making dope shit people will find out about it and if the right person sees it then it could pop the next week.

Name: Lauren Reskin
Age: 35
What do you do?
I founded and own Sweat Records. I DJ, I program background music for hotels and restaurants, and I co-host Art Loft on South Florida PBS.
What’s the biggest misconception about Miami?
That we’re dumb and we don’t care. Every single night of the week there are multiple cultural/intellectual offerings to choose from. The difference is that here you might have to google or search a little bit to find out about them. And it’s really astounding to see how much more civically engaged people are here over the last ten years. There are civic issues and leadership initiatives, a massively burgeoning tech/startup scene, loads of interesting small businesses, awesome food and drink.
What’s your vision of Miami’s future?
If not for all the passionate people working on the topics I mentioned above, I’d say Miami is going to turn into an underwater luxury hell-hole. However, thousands of us are working hard to make Miami a more equitable, engaging, enjoyable place to live.
What are your plans for Art Basel?
I always have a handful of DJ gigs and beyond that I really just try to enjoy it as much as possible. I go to the fairs, I go to concerts, I go to special events. I sit down a week before and make a rough attack plan.
What is the DIY scene like in Miami? How have you seen it grow?
We’ve always had a strong DIY scene by virtue of being fairly geographically isolated. That said, we still have relatively cheap spaces available and a wealth of talent, so if one is motivated they can pretty much do whatever they want. [One] favorite recent development is the opening of the SunPress Vinyl plant a few miles north of us. We are excited for more local acts to press vinyl and we’re relaunching our in-house record label too.
What is Miami’s most underrated/underappreciated music subculture?
Well we appreciate it locally, but we have a world-class noise and experimental scene.

Miami Art Basel