“Bobby Seale and The People’s Free Food Program” (2020-21) by Karon Davis


A LIFE-SIZED SCULPTURE of Bobby Seale surrounded by a sea of grocery bags, pays tribute to the Black Panther Party’s celebrated, but oft-forgotten, program designed to combat food insecurity in the 1970s. A major installation by Los Angeles artist Karon Davis, “Bobby Seale and The People’s Free Food Program” was on view at Jeffrey Deitch New York this spring. Cast in white plaster, the installation was featured in “Karon Davis: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished,” the artist’s first solo exhibition in New York.

“Bobby Seale and The People’s Free Food Program” is among 13 new acquisitions announced this week by Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). Eleven of the additions are by women artists. Cuban and Brazilian artists are represented and eight of the artists are Black.

PAMM acquired its first works by Karon Davis, Kenturah Davis, Bisa Butler, and Christine Sun Kim. Works by Tania Bruguera, Liset Castillo, Leda Catunda, Coco Fusco, Sonia Gomes, Hélio Oiticica, Thania Petersen, Nathaniel Mary Quinn, and Veronica Ryan, were also brought into the collection.

Similar to Karon Davis, many of the artists are at a turning point in their careers, staging significant exhibitions, and experiencing increasing recognition, including museum acquisitions.

Earlier this summer, Kenturah Davis also had a show at Jeffrey Deitch New York. “Kenturah Davis: (a)Float, (a)Fall, (a)Dance, (a)Death” was also her first solo exhibition in the city. Davis splits her time between Los Angeles and Accra, Ghana. Her work explores the “fundamental role that language has in shaping how we understand ourselves and the world around us.” She often employs repeated lines of text to compose her layered portraits.

PAMM acquired Davis’s “Black As the Most Exquisite Color” (2019), a large-scale portrait of a young woman that incorporates an endless repeat of the title using rubber stamp letters.

PAMM also added Veronica Ryan’s “Bundle 1” (2019) to its collection. The handcrafted paper and crochet sculpture exemplifies Ryan’s work, which draws on her Afro-Caribbean background. Experimenting with materiality and scale, her work references shapes and forms from the natural world.

Born in Plymouth, Montserrat, Ryan grew up in England. Today she is based between New York and the UK. In March, she joined Paula Cooper Gallery. “Veronica Ryan: Along a Spectrum,” the artist’s largest and most ambitious UK exhibition to date, is currently on view at Spike Island in Bristol, through Sept. 5.

“The collection is not only a reflection of who we are but who we aspire to be.” — PAMM Director Franklin Sirmans

SONIA GOMES, Untitled, from the series Torções (Twists), 2021. | © Sonia Gomes. Collection Pérez Art Museum Miami, museum purchase with funds provided by Jorge M. Pérez


From Sonia Gomes, PAMM acquired a new textile work the Brazilian artist made this year. The untitled work is from the series Torções (Twists). Gomes lives and works in São Paulo. Working with found and gifted fabrics, her practice is informed by embedded meaning and history. She sews and ties together textiles and objects creating vibrantly colored, oddly shaped sculptures that take on organic forms. Last year, two prominent galleries announced their joint representation of Gomes—Blum & Poe in Los Angeles and Pace in New York.

PAMM’s latest acquisitions also include Bisa Butler’s newly created work “Black is King” (2021). The quilted portrait depicts South African photographer, artist, and activist Trevor Stuurman, who worked as a stylist on Beyoncé’s recent visual album, “Black is King.” Butler uses intensely colored and patterned fabrics, “the cloth of our ancestors,” to create quilted portraits, dignified images that document the Black experience.

“Bisa Butler: Portraits,” the first solo museum exhibition of the Orange, N.J.-based artist, is currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago, through Sept. 6.

Through purchases and gifts, the additions to the museum’s permanent collection reflect the institution’s support of diverse artists from underrepresented backgrounds, including the U.S. Latinx experience, the African diaspora, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

“The collection is not only a reflection of who we are but who we aspire to be,” PAMM Director Franklin Sirmans said in a statement, mentioning specific acquisitions by Brazilian and Cuban artists he called “vitally important to our collection’s focal points.” He added: “We are fortunate to have resources and patrons who are engaged with the growth of the collection in a way that furthers our view of art as a catalyst for meaningful conversations in society.” CT


TOP IMAGE: KARON DAVIS, “Bobby Seale and The People’s Free Food Program,” 2020-21. | © Karon Davis. Collection Pérez Art Museum Miami, museum purchase with funds provided by PAMM’s Collectors Council, Jorge M. and Darlene Pérez, Karen H. Bechtel and William M. Osborne, Donna and Eric G. Johnson, Diane and Robert Moss, Nedra and Mark Oren, Dorothy and Aaron Podhurst, Craig Robins, Matthew Gorson, Frank Destra and Alex Flucker. Courtesy the artist and Jeffrey Deitch, New York. Photo by Cooper Dodds and Genevieve Hanson


Shown, HÉLIO OITICICA, “Macaléia,” 1978 (installation with stainless steel, wire mesh, gravel, asphalt, bricks, plants, planters; Cube: 86 1/2 x 86 1/2 x 86 1/2 inches). | © Hélio Oiticica. Courtesy Lisson Gallery. PAMM acquired: “Penetrável Macaléia,” 1978/2010. | © Hélio Oiticica. Collection Pérez Art Museum Miami, museum purchase with funds provided by Jorge M. Pérez


Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica’s a walk-in installation “immerses the viewer/participant in color while evoking and celebrating the favela communities of Rio de Janeiro.”


BISA BUTLER, “Black is King,” 2021. | © Bisa Butler. Collection Pérez Art Museum Miami, museum purchase with funds provided by PAMM’s Collectors Council


COCO FUSCO, “The Undiscovered Amerindians Tour,” 1882-94/2019. | © Coco Fusco. Collection Pérez Art Museum Miami, museum purchase with funds provided by PAMM’s International Women’s Committee Endowment. Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates


The photographic series documents a satirical performance by Cuban American artist Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gomez-Pena, who is Mexican American, addressing the 500th anniversary of the “discovery” of America by Christopher Columbus.


VERONICA RYAN, “Bundle I,” 2019. | © Veronica Ryan. Collection Pérez Art Museum Miami, museum purchase with funds provided by Holly and Albert Baril. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Photo BY Steven Probert


SCAD University Press recently published “Kenturah Davis: Everything That Cannot Be Known,” the artist’s first monograph. The catalog “Bisa Butler: Portraits” accompanies the artist’s first museum exhibition. The work of Brazilian artist Sonia Gomes is explored in “Sonia Gomes: I Rise – I’m a Black Ocean, Leaping and Wide,” “Sonia Gomes: life is reborn/still I rise,” and “Sonia Gomes,” her first monograph published in 2018. “Veronica Ryan: Along a Spectrum” documents the artist’s current exhibition at Spike Island in Bristol, UK. Also consider, “Dangerous Moves: Performance and Politics in Cuba” by Coco Fusco.


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