Reframing Miami Beach’s Memorial Day weekend

“ReFrame: Miami Beach” had its opening reception Friday evening where city officials, artists and curators introduced the program’s vision of embracing the importance of the local black community during Memorial Day Weekend.

The City of Miami Beach commissioned artworks and exhibits from local artists and curators that aimed to reshape the perspective that the public and media have towards Memorial Day Weekend, which coincides with Urban Beach Week. ReFrame tackled the subject of inclusivity and the role that the black community has played in the city’s culture.

The program’s reception, at The Standard hotel, was free to attend. According to Brandi Reddick, the cultural affairs manager, the city originally wanted to find a way to infuse arts and culture into the weekend. Reddrick’s team had worked for months on a different project, but due to unforeseen circumstances was forced to start over last month, and ReFrame was born.

“We approached the curators Octavia Yearwood and Jared McGriff and literally gave them artist control of the weekend and they came up with an amazing set of programs,” Reddick said. “We hope that the community receives a message of inclusiveness and we also want this to turn into an annual event that celebrates arts and culture.”

In a speech, Yearwood said that ReFrame is focused on rebuilding a strained relationship between the city’s authorities and the black community through the use of arts and culture. She emphasized the role that artists play in calling out issues and helping relationships heal.

“When you use arts and culture to shift the energy, the energy shifts the people and then the people change,” Yearwood said. “This is about reframing the perception and taking Memorial Day off of high alert … We are going to show that people of color built the city and that it does not have to be seen as an infiltration; Instead let’s enjoy it together.”

Yearwood introduced the artists and curators in the crowd and briefly explained where and when their exhibitions could be seen throughout Miami Beach. She highlighted the importance of the local community showing up and supporting local artists.

Although there was no art at The Standard, the artists and curators were able to speak one on one about their work.

Naiomy Guerrero was the curator for the “I See You, Too” exhibition, a pop-up on the Lincoln Road Shopping District. Two of her own pieces were featured. The exhibition is composed of various installations that showcase the role that the black community had in creating Miami Beach and its culture.

“One of the images is two men basically hacking at the swampland and creating the beach that we all enjoy and love,” Guerrero said. “Another piece is a video piece called ‘Thank God for the Thugs,’ which is a celebration of black culture.”

Guerrero said the video piece juxtaposed Google pictures of black people having fun and celebrating Urban Beach Week with the top Google headlines that negatively portray the event.

“The headlines are in contradiction with the joy and the fun and the love that you see in the images,” Guerrero said. “It is really calling into question this perception of Urban Beach Week as this inconvenient and burdensome thing that the city kind of preps for, as if they are going into battle.”

The opening reception for ReFrame provided a first look into what city officials hope will become an annual event, aiming to celebrate acceptance and inclusivity.

Natalia Clement is a senior journalism student at FIU. She was born in Bogota, Colombia, but was raised in Miami. Her passion for journalism began in elementary school as a school news anchor and continued all the way into college. She enjoys written journalism the most, but also finds broadcasting interesting. She is the copy editor for Caplin News and also interns at Univision. Natalia looks forward to graduating in the summer. Her ultimate goal is to move to New York to pursue her career as a journalist.