Art Basel Miami is an amazing opportunity for AMMO to share stories from some of the most remarkable people in the art world. At the 2017 Art Basel we had the pleasure of speaking with Mikhaile Solomon, the founder and director of the Prism Art Fair. We discussed new projects and artists that inspire Mikhaile as well as new developments going on in Prism.
AMMO: What’s Your AMMO?
Mikhaile Solomon: I continue to be amazed by Oprah Winfrey’s boundless energy and professional acumen. Her work is always inspirational to me, even in the moments when I do not agree with her choices. Musically, South African House music has been powering my energetic reservoir for the past few years.
A: If you had to describe Prizm in one word, what would it be?
A: What is the selection process for Prizm? How are artist chosen?
MB: I keep my finger on the pulse of what is happening globally to develop a curatorial focus, each year, that shapes the selection process of our exhibiting artists. The selection of our exhibiting artists is guided by our curatorial statement/focus and we select between 60 – 100 artists. In 2017, Prizm exhibited 120 artists, an ambitious group for our fifth-year anniversary.
A: Is there a particular artist or project you’re excited to be working with/showcasing this year?
MB: We are very excited to be partnering with Lafayette College and the Experimental Printmaking Institute to present works by Didier William and Nestor Gil in an exhibition titled, “Swarm.” that examines the liminal space between known and constructed histories through the lens of immigrant and diaspora communities. We’re also happy to exhibiting 6 contemporary artists from Barbados (Sheena Rose, Llanor Alleyne, Simone Asia Padmore, Adrian Richards, Akilah Watts, and Versia Harris) in partnership with Barbados Tourism and Marketing and Mount Gay Rum.
A: What are you doing differently at Basel this year than in previous years?
MB: In 2017, with 120 exhibiting artists, Prizm has grown significantly with a larger global footprint, including artists from South Africa, Nigeria, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, St.Kitts-Nevis, and Martinique and many more. We’ve also partnered with a number of organizations that have supported in our efforts to produce a truly global experience: The Green Family Foundation, the Knight Foundation, Mana Contemporary.
A: Why are local artists and their works important to you?
MB: Miami has generated a number of important visual artists whose works are not only reflective of Miami’s ethnic, and cultural landscape, but is also indicative of Miami’s socio-political placement in a greater global conversation. In the recent past, Miami’s cultural producers were largely excluded from the narratives driving global arts dialogue. I’m happy that this is beginning to change as more Miami based artists grow professionally and secure major exhibitions in local, national and international institutions. Artists like T. Eliott Mansa, William Cordova, Robert McKnight, Adler Guerrier, and Didier William have consistently added visual content that has introduced onlookers to their understandings and interpretations of Miami’s relationship to and contribution to global culture. I’m looking forward to women playing a larger role in the dialogue also.
A: With the new year around the corner, what is the most pressing issue on your mind and that you’d like to work on through Prizm?
MB: As much as I would love to ignore our current political landscape, as it is a source of anxiety and dismay, we cannot. Our Fair, has largely been framed to respond to socio-political issues, and we were looking forward to widening our lens to include additional points of focus, however, we would think it irresponsible to not address glaring inadequacies in the way global political affairs are developing or not developing. We’re also keen to address consistent wanton neglect of women’s rights. That we’re still grappling with racial inequity, gender inequality, economic disparity in 2017 baffles me. In the midst of our intellectual pontifications, research, and the myriad prescriptions for how to live better lives, we can not seem to aptly resolve the issues that are at the root of humanity’s problems.
A: In what ways would you like Prizm to grow?
MB: We’re working on expanding Prizm to other cities. We will likely be located in Chicago in addition to Miami in 2018, a development that we’re really excited about.
A: How does Afrofuturism align with your brand identity?
MB: When I conceived Prizm, I was thinking a lot about Afrofuturism. Afrofuturism is a cultural aesthetic that marries elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magical realism with non-Western cosmologies in order to critique not only the present-day dilemmas of people of color, but also to revise, interrogate, and re-examine the historical events of the past and imagine the future of people of color. I was also thinking about a renewed existence for people of African descent globally driven by empowering and positive imagery, an existence defined less defined by victimization and oppression and rooted in projections of greatness. The imagery I’d seen and imagined in Afrofuturistic visual expression and literature helped codify Prizm’s brand identity. There’s nothing more diverse and bountiful than the universe. Our mission is to promote the work of artists of color who reflect global trends in contemporary art.
A: Are there other fairs at Basel that you’re looking forward to this year?
MB: Sadly, I usually don’t get an opportunity to visit the other Fairs as my responsibilities keep tethered to Prizm. I am, however, interested in NADA’s programming as well as FAIR. which is also another locally produced Fair with focus on women visual artists.
To learn more about the Prizm Art Fair and Mikhaile Solomon’s work visit www.prizmartfair.com