In this centennial year for the National Park Service, AIRIE is lifting the Everglades into the air above Miami metropolitan freeways. In a dramatic change from the usual commercial messages, these billboards challenge pre-existing conceptions of the Everglades and awaken a heightened awareness of wilderness areas just beyond the city but out of sight and sometimes forgotten. Initiated with support from the Knight Arts Challenge, this dynamic, high-visibility project coincides with the National Park Service’s centennial year. The inspiration for this idea came from an image by Susan Silas. The idea behind Wild Billboards is that “…when you bring the arts into people’s everyday lives, magical things happen”, says Dennis Scholl of the Knight Foundation.
Meaningful visual and verbal representations of the River of Grass will be viewed by thousands of urban dwellers everyday. We hope the Wild Billboards will create a new awareness of the Everglades and challenge South Floridians’ pre-existing conceptions of the wilderness that surrounds us.
The intent of rewilding Miami using visual arts and poetry is to strengthen the bonds between humans and our wilderness. Through this dynamic outreach campaign, AIRIE merges the cultural resources of our local environment with those of international artists. Wild billboards and related collateral programming will extend over the next two years, inspiring the public and inviting a renewed dedication to the Everglades.
AIRIE will install the billboards in locations with views of places like the urban/wilderness transition on the Tamiami Trail near Krome Avenue, the highway entering Miami from the airport, Florida City near the entrance to the Everglades, or Wynwood.
The billboards will include images by AIRIE visual artists and/or words by AIRIE writers and will inspire the public to reconsider these sites, and remind us that the River of Grass preceded urban development and continues to flow just to our west.
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About Wild Billboard Artsits
Dana Levy was born in Tel Aviv, and lives in New York. She has a BA in Graphic Arts from Camberwell College of Art in London and did her post grad in Electronic Imaging at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art Dundee. Levy has done solo and group exhibitions in Tel Aviv, New York City and Austria. She has taken part in artist residencies in France, New York, Berlin, Milan, Austria, and Florida. Levy has also won the Dumbo Arts Festival studio award in 2012, Young Israeli Artist Award in 2008 and the Hamburg Film festival jury award 2006.
Photographer Susan Silas is a dual American and Hungarian national, born in New York City. She completed her graduate studies at Cal Arts in 1983. Soon afterwards, she began exhibiting her work in group exhibitions including White Columns, New York and New Langton Arts, San Francisco. Her occasional essays have been published in The New York Times, Exquisite Corpse, thirteen.org REEL 13, Frog, and Podium. She is the co-editor of the art blog MOMMY, an interview format appreciation of mid-career women artists. Silas has been awarded residential fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, The Corporation of Yaddo, VCCA and the Ucross Foundation. Silas received her BA in History at Reed College in Portland, Oregon and her MFA in Fine Art at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Mary Beth Ellis
Proud aunt Mary Beth Ellis is a freelance writer and college educator. A native of Cincinnati, OH, Mary Beth obtained her undergraduate degree at Saint Mary’s College and an MFA in nonfiction writing from Bennington College. “Drink to the Lasses,” her first book, was published in 2006. Her current work-in-progress is a set of essays inspired by a year of shadowing the Ohio State University Marching Band. Find her at www.blondechampagne.com or on Twitter @blondechampagne.
Rebecca Reeve was born in London, England. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Bath Spa University and a Masters of Visual Arts at the University of South Wales, Australia. Her photographs have been exhibited nationally and internationally including La Biennale de Montreal, (Canada), Freies Museum, Berlin, (Germany), Museum of Latin American Art, (Buenos Aires), EFA Project Space, (NYC) and the Masur Museum of Art, (Louisiana). In 2013 she was Artist in Residence at AIRIE and the recipient of the Artist in Exploration grant underwritten by Rolex. In 2016 she will be Artist in Residence at Joshua Tree National Park. She lives and works in New York City.
About the Everglades
A watery wilderness that embraces South Florida’s urban core, the Everglades protects a singular landscape that provides the ideal habitat for some of North America’s most rare and endangered species. Lying just outside the frenetic urban landscapes of Miami and its adjacent suburbs, the River of Grass provides a home to the alligators and birds South Florida is known for and cleans the water that reaches our famous beaches. Yet within South Florida’s developed urban areas, there is little to remind us of this vast watery world that is so crucial to our future.
South Florida is home to the only subtropical wilderness area in the country, and Artists in Residence in Everglades (AIRIE) is the only program bringing artists to the Everglades. AIRIE’s purpose is to inform, connect, and support artists, writers and musicians who wish to be ambassadors for the Everglades by providing month-long residencies on-site. Since 2002 over 70 artists have produced astounding work at the residency. For more information visit www.airie.org or contact AIRIE staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit KnightFoundation.org. For more on the Knight Arts Challenge, visit KnightArts.org.