22:05 PM

Collages at MIA piece together the Black experience in Miami

Miami artist explores Matters of the Inner City (MOTIC)

Miami-based portraitist, muralist, and printmaker Charles Humes Jr. brings his eye-catching “mosaic collages” to Miami International Airport with the opening of MOTIC, a collection of his work that combine collages, drawings, and paintings to explore the state of the Black experience in Miami while paying homage to lost lives and historical figures. The solo exhibition will be on display through September 2023 at MIA’s Gate D31 Gallery. 

MOTIC, an acronym for Matters of the Inner City, is inspired by Humes’ determination to highlight issues such as old age, extreme poverty, racial inequity, homelessness, and the eventual displacement and loss of culture caused by gentrification in his hometown of Liberty City - one of Miami's most significant historically Black neighborhoods. Matters of the Inner City is also the name given to the artist's exhibition at The African American Heritage Cultural Arts Center Amadlozi Gallery in Miami, Florida (December 16, 2021 – February 22, 2022) and curated by Donnamarie Baptiste, with funding by The Ellies, Miami's visual arts awards presented by Oolite Arts.

I am concerned with telling a visual story of the plight and condition of people of color. As an artist, I intend to open a visual window to view the dramatic genre of a people depicting intensive images that create an impactful dialogue to my audience.


Most of MOTIC’s large-scale mixed-media works, created between 2010–2021, were created using discarded materials Humes found in his neighborhood, such as large commercial vinyl banners with grommets the artist utilized to make his "tapestries," a series of mixed-media portraitures and assemblages that hang like traditional paintings on a wall. Humes' collages are balanced arrangements that consist of cutting and pasting tiny pieces of newspapers, magazines, and fabric, resulting in images lined with lively textures and unexpected juxtapositions. The larger-than-life figurative forms and the emphasis on elongated stylized angles and shapes symbolize the complexity and multifaceted condition and predicament of the people and community to which the artist pays homage. 

For over 50 years, Humes' vast body of work across various mediums has focused on chronicling the life, struggles, triumphs, and character of Black people, African Americans, and people of color. Influenced as a young man in the ‘70s and '80s by important cultural movements such as Black is Beautiful and Black Pride, Humes' work follows a rich tradition of former African American artists who expressed the everyday life and conditions of Black people.

Humes is currently an artist-in-residence at MASS MoCA through May 2023, as part of a partnership between MASS MoCA in Massachusetts and Oolite Arts Miami. The residency was acquired through an open call for submissions that resulted in 10 Miami artists being selected.


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