By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – Yesterday, September 10th, the City of Miami Beach announced a new symbolic Department of Reflection with the aim to engage the public in the climate change conversation. On Saturday, September 14th, the main office opens to the public from 2PM to 6PM at the Rotunda in Collins Park located at 2100 Collins Avenue.
Misael Soto, the city’s first Art in Public Life Artist in Residence, in partnership with Oolite Arts, created the Department of Reflection exhibit to explore the questions and challenges that come from combatting climate change — ‘bringing speculative, conceptual and artistic connection to these real-world challenges’.
“Soto’s previous project of Sand: Amphitheater, Theater, Arena, provided a space for residents and visitors to discuss and reflect on the city’s natural history,” noted City Manager Jimmy L. Morales.
“I’m excited to see how the Department of Reflection will build on the last exhibit by encouraging new ideas and bringing together different outlooks to our environmental challenges.”
Betsy Wheaton, Director of Environment and Sustainability Department explained, “The Department of Reflection is an exciting new way to engage the community around climate change and related issues. They’re contributing a fresh and creative perspective to the important conversations the city and its residents are currently having.”
Dennis Scholl, President and CEO of Oolite Arts, shared “The Department of Reflection has created exchange and really begun to create some dialogue, and I think that’s really important for the issues that we’re facing.”
Understanding that the city’s adaptation strategies is only part of the effort needed to address rising seas, Soto’s project presents a foil, or reflection, of the municipality while simultaneously presenting creative moments of exchange between the city and its residents and visitors.
“Through the emblematic department, I’m hoping to continue to push the conversation surrounding climate change in an effort to provide clarity, and perhaps even some solutions, to a conversation that more often than not excludes the arts,” noted Misael Soto.
Born in Puerto Rico in 1986, Misael Soto received an MFA from the School of Art Institute of Chicago and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Art History from Florida Atlantic University.
Beyond public artworks shown extensively for many years, and was awarded the South Florida Cultural Consortium Award for 2019 and an Ellie’s Award from Oolite Arts in 2018.
The department will be open to the public every Saturday from 2PM to 6PM, anyone is welcome to interact with the artist and gather a sense of Soto’s process as well as sit and enjoy a selection from its library.
Ranging from lectures and discussions to film screenings and performance art, event programming will be held every other Saturday from 2PM to 3PM through October.