Written By Vanessa Reyes
September 5, 2023 at 3:38 PM

Image of art Swamp Deco by Monica Lopez De Victoria, among the 13 artists and projects to receive Wavemaker Grants for the upcoming cycle. Image courtesy the artist.

Art isn’t just a painting on the wall anymore and Locust Projects has made it its mission to help artists who create outside the box move forward.

With the Wavemaker Grant, 13 artists are creating works that range from an immersive interactive extended reality art experience to an artist-led garden.

“This is not a grant for a museum show, it’s a more public community forward-facing grant,” says Lorie Mertes, executive director of Locust Projects. “These are projects that happen in neighborhoods across Miami, in unusual places.”

Artist-founded non-profit, Locust Projects has been running the Wavemaker program since 2015 and has since then awarded $570,000 in grant money to Miami artists. The program is subsidized by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts as one of 32 regional regranting programs across the country and the only one in Florida.

“These are modest grants, $60,000 is not going to go for years, it is not going to pay someone’s rent for a year or cover all costs for a big project in a museum, that is not the intention of this grant,” says Mertes.

“It is meant to be a putting ideas in motion grant.”

Christina Pettersson is one of 129 applicants who won a grant this year. A self-proclaimed messenger of plants, Pettersson’s Abortifacient Garden is based on research and development which gives her the chance to explore concepts to see how this garden pans out into an art project.

Christina Pettersson, The Abortifacient Garden, a research and development project. Image courtesy the artist.

“I love doing gardening more than art half the time and I reached a point where I can’t keep these things separate, I want to figure out a way to incorporate all my love of gardens and plant history into my work,” says Pettersson, “art can be so many things so I am not too worried about.”

Still early in the research stage, Pettersson says this project became very important given what is happening with Roe vs. Wade.

“It has been really eye-opening to see how common and wide-spread the practice of using plants to control pregnancy has been for thousands of years..even when it was technically illegal,” says Petterson.

“People like Benjamin Franklin wrote recipes for it.”

Two-time grantee, Monica Lopez De Victoria has been making art for more than 25 years and has been able to explore different genres. She went from her 2015 Wavemaker grant project which was based on underwater video and photography to this year where she tackles climate change through an immersive extended reality experience.

Oculus goggles will take players through Swamp Deco, which shows what Miami’s historical Art Deco architecture would look like in the year 2500 if it were underwater.

“It is a new medium for me, but I am learning a lot as far as programming and building in a 3D space,” says De Victoria, “a grant like this really helps push things forward with ideas and technique or mediums.”

Since her 2015 grant, De Victoria’s work has gone on to be featured at the BauHouse in Germany and is in the PAMM Collection.

Like De Victoria, Trish Gutierrez and Nicole Pedraza are New Work project artists, meaning they have a specific idea that just needs that push to be brought to life.

Trish Gutierrez and Nicole Pedraza, Quiero Bailar Contigo, a new work project. Image courtesy the artist.

Gutierrez and Pedraza’s Quiero Bailar Contigo weaves dance with visuals and audio making it a digital story.

“What I was really interested in was turning one form of art into another, so motion-controlled visuals or sound or sound controlled visuals, like the visuals dictate the movement,” says Gutierrez.

Pedraza, a New World School of the Arts graduate and professional dancer says connecting Miami’s different communities and people of different ages and backgrounds was a main motivator for this project.

“Dance is an art form that many different types of culture connect to and it is like a bridge to bring people together,” says Pedraza. “Every culture has their own practices and dance and it connects people back to their own roots and engages them to share their culture out to others as well.”

Each work of art will be on display somewhere in Miami once the artist has decided when and where.

To find out more about Locust Projects Wavemaker Grants, go to is a nonprofit media source for the arts featuring fresh and original stories by writers dedicated to theater, dance, visual arts, film, music and more. Don’t miss a story at

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