‘Suns (From Sunsets)’ has deep meaning

Posted April 4, 2016


When walking through the first floor of the Perez Art Museum Miami, it’s difficult to miss the large orange, yellow and red piece hanging gracefully from floor-to-ceiling, fully covering one of the room’s four walls.

Upon first glance, the glossy work appears to be a fusion of bright hues with rows of differently-sized circles. As one gets closer, the blazing dots materialize into varying photos of the sun. Then, as one gets even closer, fully immersing themselves into the piece, its deeper meaning slowly presents itself, making it more beautiful than it originally appeared.

The piece, titled “Suns (From Sunsets),” is a part of Global Positioning Systems, an ongoing exhibit inside the Perez Museum. The display is comprised of works taken from the museum’s permanent collection, as well as a number of significant pieces that are on loan to the museum, such as this one.

The pieces are all interrelated in terms of shared themes and conceptual approaches. The exhibition as a whole focuses on one’s cultural and geographic experiences, or one’s positioning, and how it compels and influences one’s ideas around history, the past and of the contemporary world, making it one of the more unique exhibitions at the Perez.

“Suns (From Sunsets)” is a fascinating take on the exhibition’s attention on one’s positioning and how it affects one’s opinions. Each photo in the piece was taken by someone in both a different physical and mental location. Though the sun is a constant in every human’s life, as it’s a symbol of enlightenment, spirituality and eternity, each photo is slightly different by virtue of each varying photographer.

Penelope Umbrico, who created the expansive work on display, linked millions of different photos of the sun, which were taken from individuals around the world, to create “Suns (From Sunsets).” Each photo had been uploaded to the image hosting website, Flickr, giving its rights to the public. “Suns (From Sunsets),” which is still an ongoing project for Umbrico, displays cropped versions of the sunsets she discovered on Flickr, merged into one larger piece.

Umbrico, a 59-year-old artist based in Philadelphia, is best known for creating works based on images found through search engines and picture-sharing websites, like she did for the Perez’s “Suns (From Sunsets).” She began her work with sunset photos in 2006 when she found more than 500,000 images by searching the word “sunset” on Flickr. Since then, she’s grown her work to include more than 28 million sun-centric photos.

To create a piece like “Suns (From Sunsets)” displayed in the Perez, she uploads each sunset photo and prints it on 4 feet by 6 feet glossy paper. Then, she places each sun next to each other making a collage.

Besides the copious amounts of sunsets included in this one piece, “Suns (From Sunsets)” is a beautiful and rather subjective piece of artwork. Though it demonstrates an innate simplicity, as the piece itself is just made up of hundreds of sunset snippets, it also exudes a bevy of varied understandings of its underlying meaning. Each viewer examines the work with a different position, based on his or her inner experiences, hence its placement in Global Positioning Systems.

It shows, in the most beautiful and clearest of ways, that though the sun is a constant for every human on Earth, it is still viewed and looked at in a slightly different way. Art-enthusiasts with a liking for modern art with messages clearly attached would thoroughly enjoy taking a look at Umbrico “Suns (From Sunsets).”

  • Exhibition: “Suns (From Sunsets)” displayed in Global Positioning Systems
  • Artist: Penelope Umbrico
  • Dates: Ongoing
  • Location: The Perez Art Museum Miami
  • Address: 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, Fla. 33132
  • Museum Hours: Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursdays: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.; closed Wednesdays
  • Parking: Self-parking, $2 an hour
  • Price: Adults, $16, seniors, students and youth, $12, members, free