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The Islandia Artist-in-Residence (Islandia AIR) is an annual program designed to provide resources, materials, and connections to museums and galleries to early-career Miami-based artists whose work deals with Miami's connection to the Caribbean. Our first ever IJ AIR is Fola Akinde. 

Fola Akinde is a Miami-based interdisciplinary artist focused on ideas of Black hauntology as it relates to memory, history, and conceptions of liberation. Their Nigerian cultural background has inspired an interest in archives and research related to the Black diaspora, including history and folklore related to Nigeria, the US, and Latin America.

 

Fola's work was featured in the Spring Undergraduate Exhibition at SAIC Galleries, and they were awarded an Ellie from Oolite Arts in 2022. Much of their work is focused on the importance of expanding the idea of what an archive is, its accessibility, and how that documentation can play a role in (re)assemblage of imagery and memory. Incorporating archival items like found imagery, objects, writings, and ephemera, Fola has reconfigured their own conceptions of narratives, mythology, and illuminate connections to sites and spiritual practices.

The first artwork Fola has created as part of the IJ AIR residency is Xaragua.

Xaragua is a limited series of thirty 14" x 17" screen prints with hand drawn charcoal elements

 

Xaragua is the Taino word for a lake in the Dominican Republic known as Lago Enriquillo. In the last few decades, Xaragua has experienced mysterious lake level rise. Some suspect a new, unidentified connection between the brackish lake--the lowest point in the Caribbean--and the Caribbean Sea has opened up. Others suspect that rampant deforestation of the steep hills above and increased rains have expedited runoff into the historic lake.

 

Some more tidbits about the lake: 

 

  • Not only is Xaragua the lowest point in the Caribbean, it's also the largest lake.

  • During Spanish colonization, an island in the middle of the lake known as Isla de Los Cabritos, was a haven for Taino warriors. 

  • For centuries, Xaragua has been the home to a large population of American Crocodiles and also Rhinoceros Iguanas.

  • Folk healers have used oil from crocodile fat as medicine. 

Here is Fola at work printing Xaragua. 

Photos taken by Nicholas G. Padilla at IS Projects in Miami's Little River

The second artwork Fola has created as part of IJ AIR is Indigo Stains, Indigo Bleeds Blue.

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Indigo Stains, Indigo Bleeds Blue is a 32" x 36" quilt created by using cyanotype printing on indigo-dyed fabric. The aim of Indigo Stains, Indigo Bleeds Blue is to capture the multifaceted nature of the swamp, going beyond its surface beauty to explore its complexities and layers of meaning. The swamp served as a refuge from enslavement, a sanctuary where Black individuals sought solace, reclaimed agency, and formed deep spiritual connections. Zora Neale Hurston's writings served as a powerful lens through which to explore the experiences and resilience of Black communities in the 1900s, shedding light on the intertwined histories of the swamp and its inhabitants. As part of their process, Fola dug in the State Archives of Florida and found these inspiring images of black workers in the swamps. 

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Here is Fola hard at work in their home studio stitching together Indigo Stains, Indigo Bleeds Blue.

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