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Virtual Exhibitions

The Miami-Dade Public Library System’s Art Services Division maintains an expansive collection containing over 6,000 works of art with cultural and historical significance to Miami. The Library has a long history of displaying and promoting these works through temporary exhibitions hosted at different locations within the public library system.

Patrons can now enjoy these unique works of art from the comfort of their home through the Library’s Virtual Exhibitions. Each virtual exhibit features high-resolution scans of the artwork and is searchable.

For more information, please call 305-375-5599 or email art@mdpls.org.


All Kids Included (AKI)

District-Wide Student Visual Art Competition 2021

The All Kids Included student art competition is open to all Miami-Dade students in grades Pre-K-12. Students are invited to submit original art work depicting the competition theme and are asked to draw on the competition's selected book for inspiration. This year we are celebrating diversity, inclusion and empowerment.

The theme for the 2021 AKI district-wide student visual art contest was inspired by the book, I Believe I Can by Grace Byers, illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo. I Believe I Can is an affirmation for boys and girls of every background and ability to love and believe in themselves. The poetic text and beautiful illustrations are an uplifting tribute to the limitless potential of all boys and girls to dream big and achieve their full potential. Student artists were asked to read the book for inspiration and depict the themes of diversity, inclusion and empowerment.

Please visit www.allkidsincludedmiami.org for more information on AKI programs.

The All Kids Included – Accessible Art Experiences for Kids (AKI) initiative was developed by the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs in 2006 and is made possible with the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners, and in part through grant funding provided by The Children’s Trust. The Children's Trust is a dedicated source of revenue established by voter referendum to improve the lives of children and families in Miami-Dade County.

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Purvis Young

From the Permanent Art Collection of the Miami-Dade Public Library System

Purvis Young (1943-2010) was a self-taught artist from the Overtown neighborhood of Miami, Florida. He is known for his expressive collages and paintings made on found objects such as discarded library books, doors, pieces of cardboard, and wood. Young's work offers a visual story of urban Miami illustrating crime, injustice, displacement, and other social issues of his hometown neighborhood in Overtown and at a grander scale.

His work analyzes everyday life aspects represented by elongated reaching figures, funerary processions, construction sites, trucks, horses, boats, soldiers or angels. Young used the Library's facilities to create many of his artworks. He often recycled discarded books and used them as canvas, attaching his figurative drawings on their pages. The Culmer/Overtown Branch Library and the Main Library of the Miami-Dade Public Library System were sources of inspiration, information, exhibitions, and encouragement for Young. As an artist-in-residence, Young had a designated space to paint at the library; books, brushes and other materials were provided to him. Purvis Young died on April 20, 2010 at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami at the age of 67.

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Photographs of Jazz & Blues Musicians by David Spitzer

From the Permanent Art Collection of the Miami-Dade Public Library System

Music and photography come together in this digital exhibit featuring black and white photographs by David D. Spitzer from the Jazz and Blues Musicians series from the Permanent Art Collection of the Miami-Dade Public Library System.  For almost four decades Spitzer has combined his passion for music with photography, amassing an extensive photographic negative and print archive of jazz and blues musicians. The photographs seen here capture the intensity and emotion of some of the most legendary jazz and blues musicians taken during their live performances between the early 1970s through the early 1990s.

David Spitzer is a Miami based photographer whose work has appeared in numerous exhibitions, books, periodicals, album covers and compact discs.

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Emilio Sanchez

From the Permanent Art Collection of the Miami-Dade Public Library System

Emilio Sanchez (1921-1999) was a Cuban American artist who is often referred to as “a master of light.” He is known for his architectural paintings and lithographs. He began his artistic training at the Art Students League in 1944 when he moved to New York City. However, it was in Cuba that he became fascinated with the play of light and shadow on colored forms that became a dominant characteristic of his works. It was during the 1960s that he began to develop his well-known paintings of houses and architectural themes. His artwork is found in private and public collections all over the world. He donated much of his work to collections particularly here in Miami. He is well represented in the Miami-Dade Public Library System Permanent Art Collection. He also donated a significant amount of his personal papers and art related documents to the Vasari Project.

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La Perla de las Antillas

An Exhibition from the Library’s Collections with a focus from the late 1800s to the early 1900s

Special Collections & Archives and the Permanent Art Collection present La Perla de las Antillas, an exhibition intended to share with the public a consequential time in Cuba’s history. This exhibition features rare books, lithograph prints, ephemera, photography, and more celebrating Cuba’s history, and its architecture from the 1800s and early 1900s. The exhibit is designed for those who don’t know the period, and as a bridge for both those who can’t remember and those who can’t forget.

The title Pearl of the Antilles is a call-back to Antonio Carlo Napoleone Gallenga, who gave it that name after visiting the island in 1873. In his mind, the name was appropriate as Cuba was the largest island in the West Indies.

Used as a base to continue Spanish colonization and travel to neighboring lands, Cuba was home to settlers who prospered from rich plantations of tobacco, coffee and sugar. The Cuban people would soon earn their independence from Spain in the Spanish American War of the late 1800s, a fight that forged a relationship between the United States and Cuba. That relationship would break with the dawn of the Cuban Revolution of 1959.

Before that break, Cuba was an international destination for many who were drawn to the magic of the island, fueling the imagination of travelers, scholars, writers and artists from all over the world.

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Christo & Jeanne-Claude

From the Permanent Art Collection of the Miami-Dade Public Library System

Christo Vladimirov Javacheff (Bulgaria, 1935-2020) and Jeanne-Claude (Morocco, 1935-2009) are internationally renowned visual artists who insist on joint credit for their larger-than-life artistic endeavors. They worked together collaboratively starting in 1961, crossing oceans and continents for installations, ultimately leaving no traces. They set out to create temporal, impermanent works of art, often on a monumental scale, with Christo and Jeanne-Claude briefly transforming a natural or man-made landmark into a spectacle that is not to be missed.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s installations create entire environments. The projects invite viewers to participate in and engage with an otherwise familiar scene in an entirely new way.

From covering valleys in Tejon Ranch, California, and Ibaraki, Japan, with giant umbrellas to devising floating yellow piers in Lake Iseo, Italy, where people could walk on water, to wrapping the islands of our own Biscayne Bay with bright pink polypropylene fabric (Surrounded Islands), Christo’s and Jeanne-Claude’s works are an ode to the ephemeral. A few of their most notable works include Wrapped Reichstag (Berlin 1971 - 1995), The Pont Neuf Wrapped (Paris 1975-1985), and The Gates (New York 1979 - 2005).

The Library played a major role in Surrounded Islands, with its ArtMobile educating the public about the project. From the ArtMobile, the public would learn that Christo’s installations or “interventions” on the landscape were completely self-funded. Christo paid for the projects with revenue from the initial renderings, drawings, and artworks that were models for the actual installation. He received no public or private donations and the installations were free and open to the public. Christo does not collect royalties from the sale of subsequent books, photographs, or posters, and he does not accept volunteer workers or donated materials. All 430-plus workers for this project were paid, and the materials, which were fabricated explicitly for the project and required employment of many engineers, scientists, and lawyers, were privately funded by the artist.

The impact of these immense temporary structures is great, and lives on longer than the pieces themselves, creating a lasting impression on anyone lucky enough to witness them.

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The Holocaust & The Anguish of Liberation

A collaboration of artwork from the Permanent Art Collection of the Miami-Dade Public Library System and Yad Vashem – The World Holocaust Remembrance Center

The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime, and its allies and collaborators, from 1933 to 1945. This tragic event in world history and its aftermath are represented by two different artwork series combined to form a unified, artistic experience.

The first series presents posters distributed by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith that depict a timeline of historic events including the appointment of Adolf Hitler as the Chancellor of Germany and the enactment of the “Final Solution”, as well as stories of resistance and justice.

The second series is The Anguish of Liberation exhibition from Yad Vashem – The World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel, which includes paintings created by Holocaust survivor artists from 1945 to 1947 and illustrate how they reacted to their liberation through art. The artworks reflect the tension between the need to document the terrible events and the desire to find solace through art and imagination. For most of these Holocaust survivor artists, the ability to paint again signified freedom and renewed independence.

Presented in partnership with the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach, with special thanks to Yad Vashem - The World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel and the Florida Department of Education.

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Gigi Aramescu

From the Permanent Art Collection of the Miami-Dade Public Library System

Georgeta “Gigi” Aramescu (1910-1994) was born in Romania. She received a law degree from the University of Grenoble, France and studied art at the Art Students League of New York. She worked as a teacher and eventually established a reputation for her paintings. She is influenced by the folklore and popular style of Romania from the 1930s. Her work has an important place in abstract art in South Florida, as well as in the preservation of Romanian culture.

She spent most of her life living in Miami and received over twenty awards including the National Juried Exhibition Award. Her work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally including at the Coral Gables Branch Library in 1984. Her work is found in many private and public collections around the world including Italy, France, Spain, Argentina, Venezuela, Turkey and others.

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Elizabeth Catlett: The Future of Equality

From the Permanent Art Collection of the Miami-Dade Public Library System

Elizabeth Catlett (1915 - 2012), an internationally renowned American and Mexican sculptor and artist, infused her work with her strong sense of heritage and social activism. Growing up in Washington, D.C., she was influenced as a child by her own life experiences and her grandmother’s stories of the horrors of slavery and heroism of oppressed people. As a graduate of Howard University and the first person to obtain a Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from the University of Iowa, Catlett studied under artists who encouraged her to have her art reflect her unique view of life.

Primarily known for her sculptures, Catlett also created prints, lithographs and linocuts which feature persons ranging from Harriet Tubman to Angela Davis. This exhibition proudly includes linocut works from her series The Negro Women, 1946 – 1947 from the Permanent Art Collection of the Miami-Dade Public Library System. This series demonstrates an artistic narrative of the experience of African American women in the 19th and 20th centuries. First displayed by the library in 1984, this digital exhibit revisits Catlett’s work, her world view, political convictions and beliefs thirty-five years later. It also depicts her connections to Miami. The timeless quality of Catlett’s art and activism help examine what is the “future of equality” today.

“We have to create art for liberation and for life.” – Elizabeth Catlett

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Fernando Garcia

From the Permanent Art Collection of the Miami-Dade Public Library System

Fernando Garcia (1945 – 1989) was a conceptual artist born in La Vibora, Havana, Cuba. He came to Miami when he was 16 as part of Operation Pedro Pan.

After studying at Miami Dade College, he earned a bachelor’s degree in math from the University of Georgia. While working on his master’s degree, he was drafted into the Army and sent to Germany. Garcia’s time in Europe became a turning point in his life.

After leaving the Army, he decided to study art at the University of Atlanta. It was there that his fascination with time and mathematics began to appear in his work. Soon after, he moved to New York City where he had the opportunity to work with prominent artists. He returned to Miami and began exhibiting in 1976.

In Miami, Garcia contributed to the budding art scene and became part of a group of nine Cuban American artists known as The Miami Generation, whose works were collected into a traveling exhibition. At times, he often incorporated Cuban themes in his work. His piece 10,865 (1980) refers to the number of Cubans who took refuge in the Peruvian embassy in Havana leading up to the Mariel Boatlift.

He worked closely with the Miami-Dade Public Library System, where he produced original performance art projects and installations, many of which involved public participation. He collaborated with other local artists such as Carlos Alfonzo to create Anti-Bilingual Bigot (1987), and Rafael Salazar, who photographed much of Garcia’s work. Some of his site-specific works include Holiday Spheres (1983), which was created for the opening of the Metro-Dade Cultural Center in Downtown Miami, and Making Purple (1986), which was commissioned by Art in Public Places for the Okeechobee Metrorail Station.

Towards the end of his life, he lost his eyesight, but continued working. In 1989 Garcia died due to complications of AIDS. His work is found in the Permanent Art Collection of the Miami-Dade Public Library System, Miami Dade College, Lowe Art Museum, and the NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale, among others.

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Little Haiti, Miami by Gary Monroe

From the Permanent Art Collection of the Miami-Dade Public Library System

In the mid-1980s, photographer Gary Monroe captured a series of black and white photographs to document a neighborhood in Miami known as Little Haiti. The photographs offer a deeper look into the collective cultural information that is visually present in the surroundings of this Miami neighborhood.

Gary Monroe first became familiar with the Haitian community while photographing refugees at the I.N.S. Krome Resettlement Camp in 1981. In 1984, he went on to visit and photograph Haiti and the lives of Haitian people while “Baby Doc” Duvalier still reigned and continued to do so until the millennium, by which time Haiti had inextricably changed.

Now, over thirty years since Monroe first documented the neighborhood, Miami has one of the largest populations of Haitians outside Haiti, earning its claim to the name ‘Little Haiti.’ The neighborhood and community have grown and strengthened extensively since the 1985 project, and the contrast is obvious to anyone who has recently visited the area.

The photographs’ light and atmosphere evoke a sense of simplicity and tell the story of everyday life in the Little Haiti, Miami community. Images of children playing together in the yard, or groups of friends gathered together at church express the deeply familial importance of Haitian Culture. Some of the photos depict grassy lots, shopping plazas or landscapes with no figures. Even these images offer viewers insight about the people who inhabited the area and the culture of the era.

Gary Monroe’s Little Haiti, Miami photography series probes us to take a look at our own neighborhood and the collective cultural information it emits. What ‘themes’ would be present in a photographic series of one’s own neighborhood? What might people infer about the inhabitants? What are the values of the residents and what is important to them?

Artist Bio

Gary Monroe is a Miami native who is best known for his photographs of the now-gone old world Jewish community of South Beach, his work with Haitians in South Florida and in Haiti, and his photographs of tourists at Disney World (which he describes as “a rite of passage”). He has produced considerably more photographs, including those that look at the homogenized architecture around Florida to images of people around the world.

Gary Monroe has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Florida Department of State’s Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida Humanities Council, and Fulbright to support his photography.  Monroe was best described by Miami artist Salvatore La Rosa as “a Miami icon.”

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Rafael Salazar

From the Permanent Art Collection of the Miami-Dade Public Library System

Rafael Salazar was born in Cuba in 1945 and has been a South Florida resident since 1965. He has photographed the development of the City of Miami as well as Miami’s budding art scene over the years.

He is primarily known for his panoramic photographs and photo montages, which have a documentary quality to them and are full of enchantment and depth. Of great importance to him is the preservation on film of art works, especially those of a transitory nature. This has led him to photograph two of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects: Miami’s Surrounded Islands and Pont Neuf in Paris. He has also documented the works of Fernando Garcia, Ed Ruscha, and Philip Johnson.

He is a practitioner of Hinduism and draws inspiration from his love of the cosmos, spirituality, Eastern philosophy, and nature. He has been exhibiting his fine art both nationally and internationally for many years. Salazar’s images have earned him a reputation as an innovative and sensitive artist.

He has close ties with the Miami-Dade Public Library System and photographed much of the development of Main Library as well as the early exhibitions and events held there. He photographed the Library’s Artmobile, painted by New York Realist artist Lowell Nesbitt, an art gallery on wheels decorated with zebra patterns and native flowers that was in service from 1976 until 1992. He also documented the Grand Opening Celebration of the Metro-Dade Cultural Center held in 1986.

Since its 1970 start, the Permanent Art Collection has been recognized nationally as a fearless reflection of Miami’s diversity, and an invaluable chronicle of its artistic and social history.


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The SWEAT Broadsheet Portfolio

From the Permanent Art Collection of the Miami-Dade Public Library System

This group of work is part of SWEAT, the first series of broadsheets created in 2009-2012. The SWEAT Broadsheet collaboration was initiated in the summer of 2009 by a group of South Florida book artists, novelists, poets and printmakers. During a succession of events, artists and writers from Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties were invited to meet and share their work with the goal of promoting collations across genres. To that end, the participants were invited to produce literary broadsheets. This was the genesis of the SWEAT Broadsheet Portfolio.

The theme, SWEAT, is an homage to Sweat Records, the shop in Miami’s Little Haiti Neighborhood where the first meeting was held. The name is a reference to South Florida’s tropical climate. Sweat is also both a noun and a verb, and thus left open to creative interpretation.

The SWEAT Broadsheet Portfolio was donated to the Miami-Dade Public Library System on June 28, 2013, by Rosemarie Chiarlone, Michael Hettich, Lea Nickless, Carol Todaro and Tom Virgin, with their work included in the portfolio.

In total, the SWEAT Broadsheet Portfolio consists of 79 12” x 18” ‘broadsheets’ produced by 46 South Florida visual artists and 40 South Florida writers.

Since its 1970 start, the Permanent Art Collection has been recognized nationally as a fearless reflection of Miami’s diversity, and an invaluable chronicle of its artistic and social history.

The Miami-Dade Public Library System (MDPLS) has over 6,000 fine works of art in the collection. It includes limited edition prints, drawings, photographs and artist books, as well as small sculptures. Framed works and objects from the art collection are installed in all public library branches, sometimes offering the only place in a neighborhood where fine art is accessible for free to the public.

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