Marina Font will be the last showing at Dina Mitrani Gallery’s present location. It seems appropriate, since the exhibition title, "Mental Maps," mirrors reflective movement and placement in the life of this quietly gracious and significant gallery specializing in international contemporary photography.
The Dina Mitrani Gallery will be departing from its NW Second Avenue site smack dab in the center of Wynwood’s core, but not before presenting yet one more thoughtful visionary thesis on life, using the lens as main vehicle.
Font states: “The central axis of these very intuitive and visceral works is the approach to the female body perceived mainly through three planes: the biological, the psychological and the social, as well as the juxtapositions and connections among these themes.”
Traditional female craft elements of crochet and found textiles are prominent, using yarn seamlessly and intricately woven onto the printed image. These needlework components underline moments of clarity achieved during ritualistic manual chores stressing the role of subconscious spirituality involved in harnessing the mind during repetitive activity.
Font utilizes black and white photographs of the female body in similar positioning. A meditative sensibility is clearly noted in the treatment of her work.
As I stood in front of her beautiful pieces, I had my own connective epiphany: both the art of photography and the role women play in society has had difficultly achieving serious consideration as the decades and centuries progressed. Both now hold a respected role in our immediate society, but it has not been without careful and diligent striving with vacillating progress.
Geometric shapes effervesce from the top of the head of one photograph, diagramming “the structures of thought, organized yet chaotic,” shares Mitrani. “Representing emotion coming outside of the body.”
Vintage doilies appear to stand in for thought bubbles over another face, the impossibly small arduous concentrated stitches of yesteryear work in direct contrast to the life of today’s multi-tasking young female. These are a few of my personal interpretations which the artist invites with the gallery statement that she “paints and draws with yarn or gold leaf, depicting patterns and symbols for the viewer to decipher.” Your relationship with your grandmothers, aunts and mothers may elicit another set of connotations from the visual information.
I posed a few questions to the lovely gallerist to acquire deeper insight.
Irene Sperber: The three planes of this exhibition are biological, social and connecting the psychological to the biological. Was there one particular factor in this work that made the strongest impression on your own subconscious?
Dina Mitrani: “The three planes are the biological social and psychological, but all the works create a dialogue revealing how these three aspects of the female body interconnect with each other. The strongest impact for me is the artist’s intention to bring the ‘interior’ up to the surface of the photograph with her embroidering. It’s what happens inside the body coming out. The emotion, the thoughts, are metaphorically represented by the hand made shapes of the yarn as well as the painted symbols specifically on her works on paper.”
IS: You are one of the few galleries focused on photography in the area, often classic photography. How do you see Dina Mitrani progressing into the future?
DM: “I would like to continue showing classic or historical exhibitions as well as emerging and mid career photographers as I have been for the last eight years, but also expand on the programming through artist lectures, as well as workshops for photographers, and invite colleagues to Miami to speak about collecting photography. I’d like the gallery to really be a resource, a center for exhibitions as well as education of the art of photography.”
IS: Why did you chose to show Marina Font’s work now? How is it germane at this moment in time?
DM: “I try to exhibit my artist every 2 to 3 years, and it had already been 3 years since her last exhibition at the gallery. It is also my last exhibition at this location in Wynwood. Marina’s work is very strong, and pushes the boundaries of photography and mixed media. I also think it is a significant to be showing this work, which celebrates women and many aspects of how we express ourselves at this moment in the country that is going through political changes…but my intention was not political by any means, it just happened this way.”
Font was born and studied design in Argentina, then photography in Paris, earning an MFA in photography from Miami’s Barry University. She has exhibited in a broad range galleries and museums.
The Mitrani family has been on this exact site since her family's women's wholesale apparel business began in the 1970s, segueing into daughter Dina’s ensconcing her gallery (2008) into the self same offices her mother and father occupied all those decades ago. In keeping with the family affair, her equally accomplished sister, Rhonda, opened a unique-in-Miami video art gallery next door, shortly thereafter. The Screening Room has won two Knight Foundation grants. Rhonda also created art studios upstairs completing the partnership with her sister, Dina, in creating a true art complex.
The Mitranis are “looking to create a kind of center for photography, film and video for Miami”, to “join forces to create more programming for lectures, workshops and continue with engaging exhibitions by artist telling stories with the still and moving images,” Dina Mitrani shared.
After this exhibition closes, precise touch down of the next installment of the Mitrani galleries is still undetermined, but we look forward to the location of the second act in the near future.
Mental Maps shown Tuesday through Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m. through March 18, at the Dina Mitrani Gallery, 2620 NW Second Avenue, Miami, Florida 33127. For information, www.dinamitranigallery.com or call 786-486-7248
The Screening Room: www.thescreeningroommiami.com.