Local artist takes travelers down sinkhole into ancient Miami
Installation envisions the origin of 10,000-year-old Cutler Fossil Site at Deering Estate through large-scale charcoal and ink drawings
We Inherit the Earth: Site and Memory in South Florida, the newest art exhibition at Miami International Airport by local artist Christina Pettersson, takes travelers down a literal rabbit hole into the Cutler Fossil Site, a sinkhole on the land of what is now the Deering Estate - the 21st Century house museum, cultural and ecological field station, and historic landmark located in southern Miami-Dade County.
A current Artist in Residence at the Deering Estate, Pettersson chose to explore the Cutler Fossil Site with the ancient natural materials of charcoal and ink on wood panels, so that viewers can begin to imagine the glorious land of Florida 10,000 years ago - a land that was hundreds of miles wider and hundreds of feet higher than today, and a vast savannah filled with Ice Age mammals and some of America’s first indigenous people.
Over millennia, this 13-foot-deep by 23-foot-wide sinkhole has been a den for dire wolves, a watering hole, a shelter, and a burial place. When discovered in 1979, the karstic limestone solution hole was filled with thousands of bones of Pleistocene animals, as well as human bones and artifacts of Paleo-Indians and people of the Archaic period.
My artwork is the result of my experience of living in the Deep South, a place I genuinely love and feel connected to, yet often mourn for. What materializes is not so much a straightforward viewpoint as a shadow world. I long to restore that epic and mythological dimension, a sense of awe and reverence for the world. The fact is they are not much about my personality. I want to be a storyteller, believing that life is still wild.
Christina Pettersson was born in Stockholm, Sweden and lives in Miami, Florida. She is known for her large-scale drawings, videos, sculptural installations and group performances, focusing on the history and environment of her native South Florida. She is the recipient of a Knight Grant, Ellies Creator Award, Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship thrice, and is a Fulbright Scholar, and has attended residencies such as Everglades National Park, the historic Deering Estate, The Studios of Key West, Yaddo and Ucross. She is in the collections of the Pérez Art Museum Miami, Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, Bass Museum of Art, Margulies Collection and the Four Seasons Hotel, as well as nationally and internationally.
We Inherit the Earth: Site and Memory in South Florida, on display near Gate D29 at MIA through April 2021, is funded by The Ellies, Miami’s visual arts awards by Oolite Arts, and presented by MIA Galleries, Miami International Airport.