Below, New Times has compiled an alphabetical list of eight great young artists to watch.
Focusing on issues of race, identity, movement, and family, James Balo creates his art out of archival images, portrait photography, digital art, and textile design. Much of Balo’s work is organized in projects, each focusing on a specific theme and medium. “Speak Chile,’” one such project from 2019, consists of several digitally abstracted, “glitch”-inspired portraits collaged with colorful design elements.
Through its focus on digitally rendered corruptions of archival images meant to muddle their meaning, Balo, in his own words, “discovers ways to depict the idea and origin of languages, dialects, and memory of language.” Other projects, like 2018’s “Ugly Pretty Boi,” orbit similar personal themes — in this case, a series of warmly lit portraits with text-based captions, which serves to explore questions of beauty, self-perception, and the Black experience.
Dara Girel-Mats, a graduate of Miami’s DASH (Design and Architecture Senior High) magnet school, has been recognized with local and national awards for her fantastical visions of everyday fauna. Working mostly with gouache and pencil, Girel-Mats dedicates her practice to capturing the surreal, drawing from subject matter that ranges from glowing babies to larger-than-life animals. The exquisite detail she brings to her landscapes makes each piece captivating in its depth. Her work has been displayed at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami.
Lizzie Suarez, known professionally as Mama Lucha, is a digital illustrator making politically charged artwork that focuses on issues of climate, rent justice, and the criminal-justice system. In Mama Lucha’s own words, her work “exists to uplift the labor of organizers, and to popularize abolitionist and anti-capitalist ideology.”
In practice, this emerges as grassroots artistic collaborations with several prominent community organizations in Miami, including Dream Defenders, the Miami Climate Alliance, and the Miami Workers Center, to name a few. Colorful gradients and stylized drawings of women of color, — paired with activist slogans like “No New Jails,” “Defend the Sacred,” and “Resist Imperialism,” make Suarez’s art as visually stunning as it is politically charged.
A Cuban-American graphic designer pursuing her BFA at the University of Miami, Melody Macias specializes in vibrant oil paintings, product and editorial design, and pen-and-marker illustrations. Across mediums, her work hinges upon expressions of femininity and care. Un cariñito, which exists in both oil-painted and illustrated variations, for example, finds its strength in its depiction of tender intimacy. Other works, like frutabomba and el besito en magenta showcase her stylized linework, their titles amplifying the focus on Latin identity that characterizes much of Macias’ art.
A 2022 YoungArts finalist and current New World School of the Arts student, Carolina Marrero paints technicolored abstractions of daily life, many of them rooted in Latin identity. Melding acrylic paint, cyanotype, prints, and drawing through digital collages and photography, her work blurs the lines between reality and perception.
One of her more recent pieces from 2021, titled Cuídala (which translates to “take care of her”), shows multiple images of a young girl and her doll, surrounded by strollers and baby bottles, a clear statement about the ways gender roles are performed and entrenched. The critique in Marrero’s most experimental collages is both offset and strengthened by a saccharine palette of pinks, purples, and blues. Her ongoing thematic focus on issues of gender, Latin identity, and the quotidian make her a promising creator to watch.
According to Destiny Moore’s Instagram, she makes “Art Dedicated to [her] Kinfolk.” Indeed, Moore’s innovative work, largely categorized by collage-inspired textiles and vibrant paintings of intimate family scenes, is firmly rooted in her experiences and “heritage as a Black Bahamian-American.”
Moore’s work is evocative and intimate. The people in her art — largely Black women with natural hair, and some of them with bright blue skin — are shown living their daily lives on couches and at hair salons, or against the backdrop of the Bahamian flag. Many of her paintings bring in mixed-media elements, making expert use of three-dimensional objects and other textiles. Coming from someone who has been acknowledged with multiple awards and scholarships, Moore’s work finds its strength in its artistic reflections of the world.
For Alejandra Moros, the power is in the details. A BFA student with a 2021 residency at the Bakehouse Arts Complex under her belt, Moros focuses the gaze of her most recent work almost exclusively on zoomed-in details of bodies in motion. Her oil paintings draw attention to details of hands, ears, watering eyes — highlighting the ways in which touch manifests on the body.
Moros’ paintings have been shown at various galleries throughout Miami (her first solo show was last fall). They were also included earlier this year in “I Do My Own Stunts,” a Los Angeles exhibition mounted by New York-based contemporary gallery Spazio Amanita.
Two Dogs and a Leash (Ezekiel Binns and Juan Cardona)
The collaborative duo of Ezekiel Binns and Juan Cardona has been collaborating since the pair’s time as classmates at DASH and carrying on as architecture students at the Cooper Union in New York). Now they make experimental and thought-provoking digital art. Binns and Cardona use their work to blur the lines between art, design, and architecture. In Seesaw, for example, their sculptural rendering of a “seesaw” is contrasted with an idyllic natural landscape.
Above all, their work centers on innovation: “Every time we make a new project, we try to do something that we haven’t done before, so there’s this large learning curve where we actually have to learn a new software or a new method of working,” they said in a 2020 interview with Serving the People.