MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s been over three months since art galleries and museums have closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. South Florida’s art scene may have slowed, but it hasn’t stopped. For those who love art, collect art or are looking to learn more about local artists, the Perez Art Museum Miami has the program for you.

While we can’t get up close to the art in person, we can get a personal experience through virtual tours. PAMM teamed up with South Florida artists for weekly conversations called “Local Views.” They started these a couple years ago. But due to coronavirus, the conversations have shifted to an online experience.

Franklin Sirmans is the museum’s director.

“It was a nice crowd, a dozen to 20 people would gather and walk around with the artists and that was nice, it was intimate, it was cool,” he said. “But I have to say we are getting upwards of 100 people for each of these programs now that were doing them online.  They often talk about their work in relation to art that they are seeing or have seen at the museum.”

Miami artist T. Eliott Mansa recently hosted a talk. He explained his technique of using found objects in his sculptures.

“I use teddy bears, I use flowers, I use candles, I use bottles. This stroller is like a canvas, it’s like a stretcher frame I attach the memorial object to,” he explains while  showing photos of his works.

His work was about to be exhibited at LnS GALLERY but got postponed due to COVID-19. He is glad to use this platform to connect audiences to his work, which is very timely.

“We’re in an age of protest, and a lot of my work sprung from that. I wasn’t sure what to do with the intensity of emotion that I remembered experiencing with Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, those experiences. I looked into West African artwork, various forms that are to protect community, combining with these memorials that we see on the side of the road find a new way to honor those who lost their life but also look at these traditional practices,” Mansa explains.

Franklin said the Local Views series has built momentum and a great lineup is planned for the whole summer.

“The next one is Terence Price, this Thursday (June 25). He’s a photographer, primarily, but he’s an artist based in Miami. [He’s] part of the Oolite program over on the beach and is just a fantastic individual and we get to see things through his eyes,” Franklin said.

Seeing the world through art and the artists could not come at a better time.

“Now, more than ever, we believe that the arts and culture are a place for everybody to understand each other a little bit better. We’re all dealing with COVID and now we also dealing with questions of social justice that have been there for many years. The artists often point us in the right direction, so your support for the arts is your support for humanity,” Franklin emphasized.

Art fans can go check out these amazing artists’ works on Local views on PAMM’s YouTube channel every Thursday at 6 p.m. throughout the summer and then some.

For more info on the program visit: www.pamm.org.

Lisa Petrillo

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