Parrots in the Kiln is a group exhibition shining a much-needed spotlight on environmental issues threatening Florida's natural and historical landscapes. Showing a shared mastery of installation and ceramic sculpture, artists Beatriz Chachamovits, Morel Doucet, Lauren Shapiro, and Christina Pettersson acknowledge the realities of climate change and the very serious effects it will have on all forms of life.
Parrots in the Kiln gets its title from a novel by Chicano writer Víctor Martínez called “El loro en el horno” (Parrot in the Oven), which refers to a popular saying about a parrot complaining about how hot it is in the shade while being completely unaware that he's sitting in an oven. The curated artworks address climate gentrification, loss of natural habitats and wildlife, and the urgent water crisis; just some of the current ecological issues concerning our communities.
Most of the objects in the show are made of clay and have been hardened by firing, which is the process of turning clay into ceramic using high-temperature heating, oftentimes in a kiln. The high temperature involved in the firing process is much like the rising temperatures of global warming, and the show's pieces represent the idea of the kiln as being an allegory for the world. The collective work of these four Miami-based artists opens a conversation about the future and current impacts on the state of Florida.
In the center of the space sits an installation by Chachamovits that represents the ocean floor and shows striking monochrome sculptures of natural corals. Looking closer it becomes apparent that the seabed of corals is littered with objects and trash, the products of pollution. Chachamovits' ceramic sculptures reveal the unseen consequences taking place on the seafloor. An environmental artist and educator from São Paulo, Brazil, she uses her work to highlight the fragility of marine ecosystems.
Drawing the eye upward are pedestals on which the complex sculptures of Lauren Shapiro sit. Eye-catching geometric forms mix with organic shapes to touch on the idea of complexity within nature. Shapiro's work focuses attention on environmental issues and explores how art might help to affect change.
On the opposite wall, Doucet's intricate white ceramics are arranged together. They stand out in stark white and show human limbs emerging out of seashells. Speaking to the threat of rising sea levels, these pieces focus on climate gentrification and bringing awareness to the way in which black and brown communities are affected to a greater degree. Originally from Haiti, Doucet's work is a place in art where environmental degradation meets economic inequality and race.
As you move around the room, you're surrounded by Pettersson’s dynamic wallpaper which features drawings of Florida's original landscape. Titled "Forgotten Frontier (2021)," it envelops the space in historical scenes showing the state's topography and natural wildlife. The shape of Florida's coastline, its natural flora, and exotic fauna make the perfect backdrop for the show. Pettersson, who grew up in Miami, Florida, makes the state's history and environment the main focus of her work.
Parrots in the Kiln is a remarkable public art experience that confronts Florida's deteriorating and fragile ecological integrity. The works on display are thought-provoking and visitors will have an engaging experience that invites them to delve into the exhibition’s deeper themes. Curated by Karen Grimson, its refreshing mix of sculpture and installation art are luring expressions of life here in Florida. Parrots in the Kiln is part of a series of exhibitions that showcase artists from Bakehouse Art Complex in the Design District and will be open to the public through February 28.