Calida Rawles’ first US solo exhibition comes at PAMM in Miami

Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) presents Calida Rawles: Away with the Tides, an exhibition featuring all-new, site-specific works alongside a novel large-scale video installation. Marking Rawles’s first museum solo exhibition in the United States, Away with the Tides reflects aspects of Miami’s diverse communities, natural environments, and rich history. The exhibition runs June 27, 2024, through February 23, 2025.

Internationally recognized for her intricate and delicate acrylic on canvas paintings, Rawles blends hyperrealism with poetic abstraction and situates her subjects in dynamic, undulating spaces. Her recent work utilizes water as a vital, organic, and multifaceted element—as well as a historically charged space that concomitantly represents racial exclusion and individual healing. 

Away with the Tides seeks to illuminate and celebrate Miami’s history, resilience, and beauty, in the hands of a distinct talent in contemporary painting,” PAMM Director Franklin Sirmans said. “Supporting and collaborating with the local communities of Miami and South Florida is one of PAMM’s core values and central facets of its mission. I want to thank Calida for sharing her work, passion, and restless desire to experiment and evolve with PAMM and with our audiences.”

Away with the Tides bridges the past and present, depicting elements of Miami’s history through the eyes of its residents. Delving into the experience of Black people in America, Rawles partnered with members of the historically Black community of Overtown in Miami. Akin to Tremé in New Orleans, the Historic West End in Charlotte, and countless other neighborhoods in the United States, Overtown transformed from a thriving cultural and commercial hub for Black people in the 1930s to a town subjected to gentrification, systemic racism, and mass displacement beginning in the 1950s and 60s. 

“It is extremely exciting to work with Rawles on her first museum solo presentation. While Rawles’s signature style will be present, she is also pushing her boundaries and working in natural waters for the first time, resulting in paintings with a new color composition and feel,” PAMM Associate Curator Maritza M. Lacayo said. “Miami is a complicated and difficult place to understand. I hope this exhibition gives others the courage to dive into their city or town’s history, no matter how dark or difficult.”

Rawles’s process began with a series of preliminary photoshoots in Virginia Key Beach and the public pool at Theodore Gibson Park in Overtown, which then informed the subject matter for the lifelike paintings on view. Ranging from a 10-month-old baby to senior citizens, the portraits provide representation for those who call Overtown home while capturing the generational shift the community has undergone and giving shape to an American experience that is often overlooked. With residents as the subjects of her paintings, it became evident that the exhibition would be a transformative experience—for some, it would also be their first time at a museum, emphasizing the silos Miami still struggles to navigate despite geographical proximity.

Furthermore, by photographing Black individuals in the ocean, Rawles interrogates the Atlantic Ocean’s history as the site of the supremely exploitative Transatlantic Slave Trade. As a result, the finished work critically engages with Miami’s water-entwined climate, while connecting to larger histories of beauty, oppression, and persistence in contemporary American life.

“I am so inspired by the Overtown community’s resilience and strength,” Calida Rawles said. “Through my work, I hope to shine a new light on the beauty and untold stories of its residents. I’m immensely grateful to Franklin Sirmans and Maritza M. Lacayo for supporting my vision and giving me the opportunity to engage so meaningfully with this incredible community.”

Away with the Tides is organized by Maritza M. Lacayo, Associate Curator, with the support of Fabiana Sotillo, Curatorial Assistant. The exhibition is presented with lead individual support from Allison and Larry Berg.

ABOUT CALIDA RAWLES

Rawles received a B.A. from Spelman College, Atlanta, GA (1998) and an M.A. from New York University, New York, NY (2000).

Solo exhibitions of her work have been organized at Lehmann Maupin, New York, NY (2021); Various Small Fires, Los Angeles, CA (2020); and Standard Vision, Los Angeles, CA (2020).

Rawles created the cover art for Ta-Nehisi Coates’s debut novel, “The Water Dancer,” and her work is in numerous public and private collections, including Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles, CA; Pérez Art Museum Miami, Miami, FL; Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, GA; and Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY.

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