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ARTIST FRIENDS’ COLLABORATION TURNS INTO MISSION

Written By Vanessa Reyes
February 7, 2024 at 10:36 AM

Still image from Caracoles en Cemento, a short dance film by Nicole Pedraza and Trish Guiterrez. Image captured at the Deering Estate featuring Nicole Pedraza dancing on the ‘Wishing Stone’, 1999 by Richard Medlock (Cast stone, tides, and people). Image credit Trish Gutierrez.

Miami Beach and Wynwood have long been known as the ‘artsy’ areas of Miami with their museums and fairs like Art Basel held there, but friends Nicole Pedraza and Trish Gutierrez have made it their mission to bring more of this vibe to neighborhoods south of South Miami. Their studio, 23Krome, is a clear indication of who they are and where they want to focus their creative energy.

“I have to drive (north) all the time for all of my rehearsals,” says Pedraza, a dancer with contemporary dance groups Syncopate Collective and Zest Collective. “I want more things south so people can be exposed to that part of Miami (because) when you are living more north, you don’t have a reason to come down here so it’s important to be representative of all of Miami.”

Pedraza, who lives in the Hammocks area (west of Kendall) and Gutierrez, a Redlands resident, are collaborators and winners of the 2023 Locust Projects Wavemaker Grant. They were selected in the New Work/Projects category and are working on a “transdisciplinary art experience” which will involve a combination of visual, audio and movement elements where the audience’s moves will control what is on the projection screen.

Direct render from Touchdesigner with custom interactive visuals driven by
Nicole’s movement in front of the Kinect (motion sensing input device) sensor.
Image credit Trish Gutierrez.

The project, Quiero Bailar Contigo, will be similar to Superblue in Allapattah with its captivating installations and the $6,000 awarded will be used for upgraded equipment and more projectors for a more immersive experience.

“What I am really interested in is the transformative nature of all of these different disciplines, how you can take one and drive something else,” says Gutierrez, a visual artist. “With movement you drive the visual because the camera is capturing your movement data, so it can be a plain camera filming someone as they are moving and then transforming that footage into something else in real time.”

Dancer Nicole Pedraza in front of projection interface. Interactive grid output
projected onto the background wall. Image credit Trish Gutierrez.

They are aiming for April at Deering Estate in Palmetto Bay as the location for this project, but it is still up in the air because of construction happening at Deering.

Their friendship and subsequent collaboration started at the Moss Cultural Arts Center (formerly the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center) in Cutler Bay, where they both work, after a conversation about Gutierrez’s interest in motion capturing projection and Pedraza’s love of dance, leading them to tie the two.

Pedraza, 23, is a full-time Education and Outreach Coordinator and Gutierrez, 34, is an Assistant Theater Production Manager. They say it was their shared curiosity, consistency and penchant for professionalism that made their collaboration a match made in art heaven.

Still image from short dance film, Caracoles en Cemento. Image features projection onto local dancer Maryangel Monroy. Image credit Trish Gutierez.

“I was in dance and a lot of arts environments so you would think that I would have met someone at New World (School of the Arts that) I would have collaborated closely with, but it never naturally happened,” says Pedraza, a NWSA graduate. “I tried to make partnerships, but it depends on the type of people you are and the work ethic (and) I find it funny that I was trying so hard in all my artistic spaces to find a partner and it happened at work.”

This partnership led to their first short film called, “Caracoles en Cemento”, which was screened at the Subculture Film Festival in West Palm Beach, Festival Internacional de Cine de Rengo in Chile and was, most recently, at Miami Light Project’s ScreenDance Miami last month.

A 10-minute environmental film, it hopes to capture what it’s like to grow up in Miami and what the future will be like while overhearing a dialogue from a group of young adults.

Pedraza shares pieces of the conversations, saying, “We have two voice overs, (one) asking, ‘Are you planning on staying in Miami,’ and people say no because how are we going to afford to live here, it’s not sustainable, it’s going to be underwater soon.'” Other concerns cover topics of acknowledging climate change when people are “just trying to survive, making sure they can pay their rent and provide for their family, so why are they going care about something that is happening 10 years in the future,” she says, then adds, “They need to focus so hard on what’s happening with their families right now.”

All this, while dancers perform a Fibonacci-inspired sequence which reflects the repetitive response the city is taking to climate change. Gutierrez says the film hopes to begin humanizing Miami’s reputation.

Nicole Pedraza dancing in foreground while real-time interactive visuals are projected onto both her and the wall. Image credit Trish Gutierrez.

Although they filmed mainly at Deering Estate, they are yet unable to find a place down south where they can screen “Caracoles en Cemento”.

“It’s important to have access to stuff that is close by and that there isn’t a huge financial roadblock to getting to it,” says Gutierrez. “Something I care a lot about is having that artistic voice for the people who actually live here, who grew up here, who haven’t left and come back transformed by other cultures they encountered somewhere else. I want people to be able to say that that is uniquely Miami.”

If you missed it at ScreenDance in January, you can watch the short film on Vimeo: Caracoles en Cemento

To learn more about the artists and their various projects, visit their website 23Krome.

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit media source for the arts featuring freshand original stories by writers dedicated to theater, dance, visual arts, film, music and more. Don’t miss a story at www.artburstmiami.com.

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