“Miami Women” exhibition celebrates resilience and womanhood at Arsht Center

Written By Isabel Rivera
March 26, 2024 at 10:20 AM

Featured in “Miami Women” herself, Sandra Abi-Rashed, founder of nonprofit mentoring organization Mentoro, admires a portrait of Molly Birkholm, a yoga and meditation instructor. Photo credit

A known hub for the performing arts, the Adrienne Arsht Center in Downtown Miami is abuzz with prima ballerinas and star-studded casts. But as visitors flock to its stages this season, they’ll find another hidden gem lying among its corridors.

“Miami Women” is the center’s new visual art exhibition that debuted March 2 in honor of Women’s History Month. Featuring the work of Miami-based editorial photographer Femke Tewari, it showcases 50 portraits of “305” natives whose stories pay homage to the city’s feminine spirit and cultural diversity. The collection’s refugees, surfers, creatives, entrepreneurs, doctors, and activists are just a few of the fine threads that form its rich tapestry of the Magic City.

A photo of former Miami Shores Mayor Crystal Wagar dancing in front of the Wynwood Graffiti Museum is the exhibition’s opening piece at the center’s Knight Concert Hall. Photo credit

Though blown up on the walls of the Arsht’s Knight Concert Hall and Ziff Ballet Opera House, the project started in 2020 as a coffee table book that was Tewari’s cathartic response to the rising racial tensions of the time. Hailing from Holland, happily married to a Nepali man, and the proud mother of a mixed-race and adopted Malaysian daughter, she lives in advocacy of diversity and strives to bring these values to the forefront of American dialogue.

“It started early in COVID, the George Floyd incident happened, the racial divide became stronger, and everyone was hurting . . . I was very upset,” said Tewari on her motivation behind the series. “I’ve always photographed women, and I decided I wanted to show the beauty of diversity.”

At its earliest stage, Tewari’s strategy was simple: reach out to her community of “badass” women and capture their stories in visual and written form. She’d scout and shoot at locations that remained true to her subjects’ experience of the city, with locales like Miami Beach, the Wynwood Walls, Fairchild Botanical Garden and even childhood homes making regular appearances. In time, she amassed not just an extensive portfolio, but a network of ladies tied together by a shared hometown. Her initiative would soon spread from her inner circle outwards, prompting dozens of women representing 17 countries to use her project as an outlet for their narratives.

Photographer Femke Tewari poses with a group of women featured in her “Miami Women” series. Photo credit

“After a while, every woman I photographed would say ‘There’s this one woman you have to meet,” recalled Tewari. “It snowballed like crazy.”

It was only fitting that “Miami Women” would then fall into the hands of Aric Kurzman, the center’s director of visual arts and exhibition curator, by way of Tewari’s newfound sisterhood. Kurzman’s then-girlfriend-now-wife Molly Birkholm, a yoga and meditation instructor featured in the series, connected him with the photographer’s work, sparking a collaboration between the two.

“I’m always looking for what we can exhibit and put in the pipeline,” said Kurzman. “[Miami Women] was just a natural fit.”

Photographer Femke Tewari poses with guests before a portrait of Chiquanna Villines, a skin and wellness ambassador. Photo credit

The Adrienne Arsht Center has faithfully committed to making space for the visual arts since it first opened its doors in 2006. Commissioned public art installations by notable creatives José Bedia, Anna Valentina Murch and Robert Zakanitch are integrated into the venue’s architecture, from its lobby floors and outdoor bench seating to the very house curtain parted at the Ziff Ballet Opera House.

“It started from the beginning, so it really makes sense that now [the art] is on the walls, and it’s all the time, and it’s ever-changing,” emphasized Suzette Espinosa, vice president of communications.

“Miami Women” is the first series featured in the Arsht’s newly-coined 1300 Projects plan, fittingly named after the city block the center calls home. The program aims to highlight the work of emerging and mid-career international and Miami-connected artists, making Tewari’s debut solo exhibition the perfect inaugural choice.

The public is welcome to view the exhibition when at the Arsht Center for performances or during free, weekly tours offered in English and Spanish from now through June 10.

WHAT: Miami Women,” a visual art exhibition by Femke Tewari

WHERE: The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County

WHEN: March 2, 2024 – June 10, 2024; Tours are Mondays and Saturdays at 12 p.m.; Spanish language tours offered once a month.

COST: Free

INFORMATION: / @arshtcenter on Instagram / (305) 949-6722 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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