Germane Barnes installation in Miami recalls African woven basket

The Museum of Art and Design (MOAD) at Miami Dade College (MDC) presents Germane Barnes: Ukhamba, a new commission by the Museum and the second installment in an annual series of MOAD Pavilions. Designed by Germane Barnes, Miami-based artist, architect and educator, Ukhamba will be sited on the Building 1 Plaza at MDC’s Wolfson Campus through February 24, 2024, and on MDC’s North Campus from March 11 to May 26, 2024.

Named after a type of African woven-wood basket, Ukhamba is a 10-foot-tall circular structure built of curved wooden elements stacked in horizontal layers. Its construction, with four arched entrances, invites visitors to walk inside and congregate, but allows the surrounding plaza and urban landscape to remain visible through the structure.

Inspired by Barnes’s time working abroad in South Africa, as well as in Miami, Ukhamba not only responds to Miami’s sub-tropical climate, but also unites architectural elements typical of diasporic communities of African and Caribbean origin. It comprises a pavilion that appears part basket, part traditional breeze wall.

Ukhamba is a space for reflection on our relationship to the built environment, urban design, its histories, and cultural memories. Barnes’s pavilion continues the artist’s exploration of themes of spatial identity, migration, the cultural influences of the African diaspora, and its contributions to classical architecture. Primarily using materials found in South Florida, the artist has focused on sustainability and has designed a structure in dialogue with the history and natural environment that surrounds it.

“This is an amazing opportunity that allows me to continue honoring diverse legacies and cultures,” Germane Barnes said. “My first semi-permanent pavilion, this structure combines the influences of the many places I have called home—and abstracts those memories into built form.”

Ukhamba was inaugurated during the Miami Book Fair (November 12–19, 2023).

Germane Barnes  'Ukhamba' installation overhead view at the Museum of Art and Design in Miami.
Germane Barnes ‘Ukhamba’ installation at the Museum of Art and Design in Miami. Photo credit MOAD.

About the Artist

Born in Chicago, Germane Barnes received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Architecture from Woodbury University, where he was awarded the Thesis Prize for his project Symbiotic Territories: Architectural Investigations of Race, Identity, and Community.

Currently he is an Assistant Professor and the Director of The Community Housing & Identity Lab (CHIL) at the University of Miami School of Architecture, a testing ground for the physical and theoretical investigations of architecture’s social and political resiliency.

His work has been featured in international institutions most notably, The Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco MoMA, LACMA, Chicago Architecture Biennial, MAS Context, The Graham Foundation, The New York TimesArchitect MagazineDesignMIAMI/Art Basel, Metropolis MagazineDomus, Wallpaper* Magazine, and The National Museum of African American History, where he was identified as one of the future designers on the rise.

Barnes’s award-winning research and design practice investigates the connection between architecture and identity, examining architecture’s social and political agency through historical research and design speculation. Mining architecture’s social and political agency, he examines how the built environment influences Black domesticity.

Germane Barnes: Ukhamba is the second in a series of annual commissioned MOAD Pavilions, curated by Isabela Villanueva, MOAD Consulting Curator. The first, Rafael Domenech’s Estuary [Pavilion for MOAD], opened at the MDC Wolfson Campus in November 2022 and was later reconfigured at the MDC Kendall Campus.

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