Miami, FL. Feb. 13, 2019 — Miami Dade College’s (MDC) Cuban Legacy Gallery at the historic Freedom Tower will present Glexis Novoa: The Cankama Sutta, a site-specific exhibition by the well- known Cuban American Miami artist that traces an autobiographical and spiritual journey. Glexis Novoa: The Cankama Sutta, will be on view from March 14 to Sep. 29. A reception for the artist will be held on Thursday, May 23 from 6 – 9 p.m.
The exhibition includes a graphite drawing rendered directly on the gallery’s walls that pictures a mysterious landscape stretched along a seemingly endless horizon. We follow a faint line clockwise at eye level around the gallery, marveling at detailed renderings of fantastic structures. Some seem familiar, but they stand juxtaposed in strange configurations, and we appear to have landed in a parallel, uncanny reality.
The strange landscape forms a travelogue or narrative that incorporates symbols of Novoa’s personal experiences as an immigrant, his life in Miami, and his travels around the world, as well as his interests in social and political history. The drawing makes reference to the site of the itself, the Freedom Tower. The building has had a major impact on the artist and its history as a refugee center holds an important place in his heart and life, and those of many Cuban immigrants. In the exhibition, Novoa’s wall drawing engages in dialogue with a set of sculptures he produced in Havana during 2015, which represent other aspects of his voyage and moments of history that have recently transformed Cuban society.
For Novoa, the condition of the immigrant relates to the Cankama Sutta, a Buddhist rule or discourse about walking meditation. This usually takes the form of walking back and forth along a prescribed path while focusing on trivial aspects of daily life, such as eating or health. Above all, the practitioner remains aware of the process of walking, an action analogous to the artist’s nomadic existence. According to Novoa, “a focus on the act of displacement in a balance with the ephemeral” resonates deep within him, suggesting his moving and personal approach to the representation of his biographical and spiritual quest.
The study and practice of Buddhist teachings, originally learned as a child from his mother in Cuba, forms a thread running through Novoa’s life. The influence of the practice of meditation on his personal and professional life deepened during his interactions with emigrant communities from Thailand and Sri Lanka. Locally, he has forged strong connections with the venerable monks of Miami’s Wat Buddharangsi, where he was ordained as a novice monk or samanera.
Born in Holguín, Cuba, Glexis Novoa received a B.A. from The National School of Art in Havana. His has worked in painting, performance, and installation, and has become internationally recognized for his site-specific graphite wall drawings. Since the late 1980s, his work has been widely exhibited in the United States and around the world, with solo exhibitions held at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana (2016); Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami (2015, 2006); Cheekwood Museum, Nashville (2008); Worcester Art Museum (2003); Locust Projects, Miami (2003); Miami Art Museum (2001); The Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame (2000); and Castillo de la Real Fuerza, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana (1989). Novoa lives and works in Miami and Havana.
Glexis Novoa: The Cankama Sutta is organized by Wanda Texon, Senior Curator of MDC’s Museum of Art and Design.
Housed at the National Historic Landmark Freedom Tower, the Cuban Legacy Gallery is one of MDC’s Special Collection Galleries, which also include the Kislak Center. The Special Collection Galleries celebrate the communities of South Florida and promote fresh perspectives on the ongoing processes of culture and change in the Americas. The Cuban Legacy Gallery honors the Cuban exile experience and provides a most appropriate site for Novoa’s memorable exhibition because of the Freedom Tower’s significant role as “El Refugio,” a welcoming place for the early Cuban exile community during the 1960s. Tens of thousands of Cubans passed through this building when the federal government used it as a center to process, document, and provide medical and social services for the new arrivals.
WHAT: Glexis Novoa: The Cankama Sutta
WHEN: Thursday, March 14, to Sunday, Sep. 22, 2019 | Reception for the artist, Thursday, May 23, 6 – 9 p.m.
WHERE: Cuban Legacy Gallery at MDC | Freedom Tower | 600 Biscayne Boulevard
Hours: Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 1 – 6 p.m., Thursday 1 – 8 p.m.
Special Collection Galleries admission (includes admission to MDC’s Museum of Art and Design): $12 adults; $8 seniors and military; $5 students (13–17) and college students (with valid ID); free for MOAD members, MDC students, faculty, and staff, and children 12 and under. Accessibility challenges: please call (305) 237-7710 for details.
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