The arts were ever-present at the ‘Aspen Ideas: Climate 2023’ conference
Dancer-choreographer performs his “Corporeal Decorum’ at SoundScape Park during “Aspen Ideas: Climate 2023. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Bayer/Aspen Ideas )
The dancing of Liony Garcia, operatic voice of Amanda Crider, orchid music of Composer Juraj Kojs and Laurencia Strauss’ installation “The Bubble Pops Popsicle Project” all shared the climate stage on Miami Beach.
They, along with Vice President Kamala Harris, singer and Miamian Gloria Estefan and WPLG-TV, Channel 10’s Louis Aguirre who has become a local climate activist, were all part of “Aspen Ideas: Climate 2023” held from Monday, March 6 through Thursday, March 9 at both the Miami Beach Convention Center and the New World Center. It’s the second year the conference has been held in Miami Beach.
While Harris received plenty of attention for her appearance on Wednesday when she spoke with Miami musician Gloria Estefan about climate change on stage at the New World Center, arts were also in the spotlight as artists’ works mingled with climate conversation throughout the four-day conference.
Live art activations took place on the first three days beginning with a moving dance performance of “Corporeal Decorum,” by Miami’s Liony Garcia at SoundScape Park on the grounds of New World Center. Garcia performed a portion of his original piece among the lush grounds of the park, moving effortlessly and fluidly in his all-white ensemble. At one point, he incorporated held objects into his choreography.
“Corporeal Decorum” is a continually evolving piece that Garcia has performed at the Wolfsonian-FIU, during Miami Light Project’s “Here and Now” Festival and at Aspen Ideas where he explored themes of climate change and sea level rise affecting Miami Beach and its Art Deco architecture.
At the opening reception on Monday evening, attendees gathered at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden where local artist Laurencia Strauss, originally from Los Angeles, was behind a colorful pink cart handing out popsicles she made from purchased snow globes. The interactive installation entitled “The Bubble Pops Popsicle Project,” asked participants to share their advice from learned experiences like migrating and surviving hurricanes on a post-it note that she then displays all around the cart.
On the final day of the conference, Strauss was at the Miami Beach Convention Center offering her popsicles and now had a car filled with messages from the past few days.
“I have had more than 1,500 participants in the Miami area but this (Aspen Ideas) conference is the first time I have opened it up to a national audience, says Strauss, explaining the process. “I have 22 snow globes that I’ve purchased in tourist shops that I cast with food-safe silicone and create into popsicles.”
The globes feature iconic Florida images such as the skyline, Miami Beach Art Deco buildings, palm tree-lined beaches, cruise ships, flamingoes, sharks, sea turtles and underwater sea life with coral scenes. The idea behind the art, she says, is that then the temporary sculptures/popsicles melt as they’re consumed “alluding to our impact on our impact on our environment and the need to change our behaviors to better take care of the places, people and wildlife that we care about,” says Strauss.
And what happens to the advice from the Post-It Notes? It’s laser engraved onto the popsicle stick which becomes a keepsake once the popsicle is done. “The project really is about creating experiences of interdependence,” she says.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mezzo-soprano Amanda Crider, founder and artistic director of Miami’s art song concert series IlluminArts performed a program of music for voice and string quartet by contemporary American composers called “Blooming Still: A Musical Exploration of the Relationship Between Humanity and the Earth.” The violin and cello quartet performed pieces by composers Jessie Montgomery, Aaron Copland and Caroline Shaw. Crider’s voice soared over the audience gathered outdoors at Soundscape Park as she sang the words by Shaw, J. Mae Barizo and Poet Emily Dickinson, which accompanied the music.
Like Strauss, composer, musician and nature lover Juraj Kojš had work featured at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden during the opening reception and then performed his “Orchid Music” at the Convention Center on Wednesday afternoon.
Kojš’ installation at the Botanical Garden’s orchid fountain featured small solar powered speakers each individually loaded with microcards of his Orchis Music recordings which are each based on that specific orchid’s DNA.
“Orchid Music,” which he created in 2019, is an ongoing outdoor sound and media installation and has also been featured at Fairchild Botanical Garden, Flamingo Gardens and previously at Miami Beach Botanical Garden.
“I perform on a small controller-mixer that reads my files and I can then convert into musical pitches and rhythms. I can also change the speed and create color modifications,” said Kojš.
[To learn more about “Orchid Music” and see past installations, click here.]
His love of nature and landscape began during his childhood, watching his father in the garden at his home in Slovakia and then when he arrived in Miami, he says. “I discovered all the varieties of orchids here and was fascinated.”
In addition to these performances and interactive installations, the Miami Beach Convention Center was ripe with art installations from various local artists and groups.
They included visual artist Claudio Marcotulli’s “Sea Show” featuring a set of fixed colorful light sculptures, local artist Cornelius Tulloch’s “Passages” a multisensorial installation exploring the Black history of the Everglades, European artist Zlatko Cosic whose “Movement Strategies” was presented alongside Strauss’ Bubble Project as it depicted a series of moving images displaying her collected responses.
The City of Miami Beach, Miami Beach Arts and Culture, and Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs collaborated to present the series of temporary site-specific public art commissions, film screenings and performances presented during the conference.
To learn more about the arts presentations “Aspen Ideas,” visit mbartsandculture.org.