Women as creative entities have had to wait a long time to be merely acknowledged, let alone understood or applauded. Fortunately, there are areas where we can now speak of full-fledged inclusion. It has been a gradual process, certainly, but no less significant or radical because of it. The art circuit, for example, is one of those spaces where their voice has gradually found its place. As a specific example, it is worth examining the evolution of the Rodriguez Collection, the majority fund of the current collection at the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Americas.
When entrepreneur and cultural promoter Leonardo Rodríguez presented his collection to the public, it featured only four women out of a total of fifty artists, making up eight percent of the total. Today, in June 2023, it includes 47 women out of a total of 225 artists, representing an increase of over 20 percent. While it is important to note the numerical increase of women artists in the collection—because this can be merely a quantitative figure—it is crucial to highlight the network that has made it possible, and the efforts that have been made to facilitate it. In the early months of 2017, the Women in the Arts program was conceived, driven by the tireless work of María Baños—Leonardo Rodríguez's life partner—with the purpose of exclusively showcasing art produced by women artists and facilitating the inclusion of new voices in the collection. From the very beginning, the program received the support and attention of important figures in the local culture, such as Carol Damian, Francine Birbragher-Rozencwaig, Janet Batet, Gabriela Azcuy, Hortensia Montero, and Isabel M. Pérez, among many others. These curators, specialists, and art historians who advocate for many of these artists, capturing every detail of their narratives, have managed to put them on the map of contemporary art in the state of Florida and, in some cases, throughout the United States.
Therefore, on March 10 of that same year, 2017, Kendall Art Center presented to the public "Poems," a set of three simultaneous exhibitions that marked the official launch of its Program. "Blooming" featured a solo exhibition by Lisyanet Rodríguez (1987), "Fugacious" paid tribute to Gina Pellón with five of her own pieces accompanied by works from Ana María Sarlat, Ivonne Ferrer, and Laura Luna, and "Being" showcased a joint exhibition by Sandra Ramos and Ana Albertina Delgado. Although none of the three exhibitions pursued intentional feminist positions, they shared with the audience an intimate communion of gender-related discourses with a high poetic charge.
One year later, in August 2018, also within the Women in the Art program, three exhibitions were inaugurated: "Captivity Forces" by Milena Martínez Pedrosa, curated by Odette Artiles; "Intersectionality" by Angela Alés; and "Broken Roots" by Aimée Pérez. In the beginning of 2019, on January 25, "Art Attack" by Ivonne Ferrer opened as a solo exhibition, followed by the public presentation of Zaida del Río's work in "Amber Resin" on June 21, featuring the artist who resides in Cuba.
In May 2020, the book "Women Artists in the Rodriguez Collection" was presented alongside an exhibition showcasing the works of 21 artists, 18 of whom were actively practicing at that time. Simultaneously, two other solo exhibitions were opened: "Monumental" by Lia Galletti and "Dressed of Waters" by Gina Pellón. In January 2021, Kendall Art Center presented its program with another group exhibition at the Edward E. and Jane B. Ford Gallery, located within The Museum of Arts & Sciences (MOAS) in Daytona Beach, Florida.
In March 2022, Kendall Art Center presented the third installment of its program by inviting Cuban artist Gladys Triana, who resides in New York. In November, as part of the inaugural ceremony of the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Americas, the center showcased "Subverting Materials," an exhibition curated by Francine Birbragher-Rozencwaig in collaboration with the Miami Fiber Artists Association (FAMA) and World Textile Art (WTA). This exhibition, featuring the works of nine artists, was part of several textile art exhibitions and installations in Miami during the months of November and October under the title "Threading the City," sponsored by the Florida Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Once again, in March 2023, the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Americas paid tribute to Cuban artist Carmen Herrera in a group exhibition featuring 26 women artists residing in both Cuba and the United States. The majority of their artworks became part of the museum's permanent collection.
At present, the third book documenting these experiences and updating the new additions to their roster is undergoing the editing process.
In recent years, Cirenaica Moreira has frequently delved into the realm of performance art. Since the 90s, Moreira has focused —through the representation of her own body— on challenging the political discourse expressed as yet another projection of toxic masculinity. She analyzes the female body from the perspectives of sexuality, gender, and race. Much of her work as a photographer transports us to dreamlike or unreal contexts where the subject has evolved at its own pace, untouched by the haste and agitation of 'becoming'. Cirenaica's models simply 'are'. On this occasion, the audience's participation was not merely an aspect, but a cornerstone.
As part of the WOMEN IN ART program, the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Americas in Kendall opened the collective exhibition 'Carmen Sends Me' on Friday, March 10, 2023, as a heartfelt tribute to the Cuban artist Carmen Herrera, who passed away just over a year ago in New York City. Following a call by curator Mónica Batard, a select group of Latina artists decided to pay homage to Herrera's memory, life, and example. These Cuban artists, who reside in South Florida, Havana, and other cities around the world, share their works with the public in Kendall and Miami-Dade County.
The exhibition Subverting Materials: Fiber and Textile Art by Women Artists was conceived as part of Threading the City, a series of events highlighting the work of artists who work with fibers or textiles organized by the Fiber Artists Miami Association (FAMA). Since ancient times, the number nine has been associated with the nine months of pregnancy and represents the feminine principle of creation. On the other hand, according to Hindu philosophy, the creators of the classical arts found nine emotions or artistic moods that are part of the expressions of life. With these principles in mind, nine women artists were chosen for this exhibition. Each of them uses domestic or artisanal techniques, transforming or subverting them to give them an artistic identity and express different messages and emotions.