‘Women on Walls’ elevates Wynwood

Posted May 5, 2014


The Wynwood Art District has come a long way since its arrival in 2009. Taking over what used to be a run-down warehouse district, developers transformed and recreated the warehouses into numerous art complexes, showcasing multiple areas of fabulous artwork.

Now, with more than 70 art galleries, multiple retail shops, restaurants, performance spaces, and one of the largest open-air street installations in the world, Wynwood has not only become a major player in the Miami art scene, but is also becoming a center for Miami entertainment.

Stepping foot into the Wynwood Art District is really an awe-inspiring moment. The numerous tall buildings that are both so artistically and articulately painted from ground to rooftop are completely captivating. Everywhere a visitor turns, her or she will be surrounded with various forms of spectacular artwork. Even just driving through the district is like touring a gallery.

The relatively new art district has even attracted big-named celebrities, including mega music power couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Reality star Kim Kardashian was recently spotted riding (and falling off of) a bike along one of the Wynwood’s graffiti-covered streets. The stars posted photos of their visits to their various social media accounts, giving Wynwood not only local, but national attention.

In addition to the occasional celebrity drop-by, famous musicians have also traveled to the thriving district to perform. For years, South Beach has hailed as the ultimate center for all things lifestyle and entertainment, and is famous for hosting Art Basel Miami Beach.

This year, Wynwood made a splash at Art Basel, giving parties that included performances by the widely popular music artists Kendrick Lamar, Darkside and Questlove at the new performing center hotspot Mana Wynwood.

It was also at the 2013 Art Basel that a few of the warehouse walls got huge artistic makeovers. In fact, one of the newly painted walls that made its debut at Art Basel was the backdrop of one of Beyoncé’s Instagram photographs, giving the artist, Lakwena, massive exposure. It made her and several other specific women artists all that more relevant once again.

Lakwena, along with other women artists, were part of the “Women On The Walls” project during Art Basel. “Women On The Walls” was a special project curated by famed Los Angeles art dealer and curator Jeffrey Deitch, to showcase and celebrate the contributions of women artists. Deitch, who helped curate some of the original art in Wynwood, explained in multiple interviews that this showcase was meant to “correct a historical imbalance.”

Deitch brought multiple women to Wynwood to create murals, but three women artists stood out, creating spectacular wall pieces that really gave Wynwood that extra “oomph” during the popular art show.

Lakwena Maciver, known just as “Lakwena,” is a graphic artist that is based in London, England. She creates artistic pieces using illustration, graphic design, set design, and large-scale paintings, which she created for her Wynwood piece. Lakwena has also produced pieces for the popular clothing companies American Eagle and Diesel, and the shoe giants Converse and Toms.

According to her personal website, www.lakwena.com, she is “inspired by the human instinct for adornment and embellishment, and their use and power for their means of communication.” And her Wynwood piece conveys just that. For her 132-feet by 20-foot wall masterpiece, Lakwena chose to spell out the phrase, “I Remember Paradise” in a metallic gold paint, directly surrounded by bright color, with the outer edges painted in symmetrical black and white.

In describing the piece on her site, Lakwena says that she was “influenced by the writings of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolken on mythology, and poses the possibility that myths—expressed through films, paintings, songs, advertisements — carry echoes of paradise, pointing to a past and future glory which we only see glimpses of in the present.”

This interpretation could leave the viewer with multiple messages. It could be symbolizing Wynwood’s transformation from run-down warehouse district to thriving art district, and that we are seeing this transformation in “glimpses.” Or, the phrase could be talking about Miami as a whole, indicating that the “paradise” that is Miami is no longer the same as it was many years ago.

Regardless of the interpretation, the piece is still magnificent to view. While it may not be as intensely detailed as some of the other pieces, the large metallic letters and bright colors will definitely capture a Wynwood visitor’s attention. (It doesn’t hurt that Beyoncé posed for a photo in front of it either!)

Another artist invited to be a part of the “Women On The Walls” project was Maya Huyak. Her mural stirred up quite the buzz for its symmetrical composition, intricate pattern, and beautiful colors. It is so impeccably detailed that viewers will have a hard time focusing on the surrounding art, as they will be completely captivated by Huyak’s masterpiece.

As opposed to Lakwena’s piece, there are no words featured in Huyak’s mural, as it is just multi-colored triangular shapes that appear as if they are folding into one another as they spill across the wall. When seen from a distance, the viewer will notice that the smaller triangular shapes create multiple bigger triangles, almost looking like something similar to an optical illusion.

After earning her Bachelors in Fine Arts from Massachusetts College of Arts, Huyak spent time studying at the University of Odessa in Odessa, Ukraine. Based on her time spent in the Ukraine, Huyak likes to design pieces that appear like traditional Ukrainian crafts. With its intricate design, Huyak’s Wynwood mural may be representative of a craft unique to Ukrainian culture.

In a completely different piece from both Lakwena and Huyak, Parisian street artist Fafi created a small but outstanding work of art with flowers. Directly across for Huyak’s piece, Fafi adorned a gate with multiple fake flowers to create a large and beautiful multi-colored solid arraignment.

While most of the colors in Fafi’s piece are light and bright in color, when looked at closely, the viewer will be able to see the French word “salope” spelled out in darker red flowers.

When translated, “salope” is actually a French curse word, which does not exactly go with overall light and flowery theme of the piece. However, if the word is spotted, there is no doubt that it will encourage the viewer to look up the meaning of the word and let his or her imagination run wild with various interpretations.

Even though the spelled out word is confusing, the overall piece is beautiful and completely unique to anything else in Wynwood. It is definitely a must-see piece, along with Lakwena and Huyak’s murals.

A Wynwood visitor can now stop by the Wynwood Art District to observe numerous amounts of incredible and unique artwork, grab a bite to eat, go shopping, or see a live performance.

Regardless of what the visitor came to do, the amount of various intriguing activities is sure to feed his or her artistic hunger. With the work of these “Women On The Walls” artists during the 2013 Art Basel, and all of the other thrilling things to do, it’s no wonder why Beyoncé stopped by!

  • Location: (Address that will take you to the heart of the Art District) 167 NW 25th Street, Miami Fla., 33127.
  • Activities: The Monthly Annual Art Walk, every second Saturday of the month.
  • Art Walk Hours: Usually starting at 7 p.m. and runs through 11 p.m.
  • For more Wynwood Art District activities, a list of restaurants and shopping, visit wynwood.com.
  • Review: A+