Greetings from Little Haiti: The Common Field Convening Starts Tonight

by Michael Anthony Farley on October 20, 2016 · 1 comment Diary + Miami

If you’re not in Miami, check out this Livestream of the events or stay tuned for my updates all weekend. 

I’m in Miami for the Common Field Convening, where I’ll be both speaking on a panel and posting updates to the blog all weekend long. When I tell people this, the first question I get is almost always “What is Common Field?”

And part of why I love Common Field is the sense that the organization is still trying to figure that out—as a nimble, collectively-generated entity. Basically, it’s a network of non-commercial art spaces, nonprofits, publications, organizers, and other groups/individuals who strive to support artists and the communities they work in. Tellingly, when I first met Common Field’s co-director Courtney Fink at The Contemporary’s Artist Retreat outside of Baltimore, she introduced the organization by asking our group what local arts organizers need, rather than telling us what Common Field could do for us.

But Common Field’s stated goals include articulating the common practices and values of visual arts organizing, facilitating forums for convening, and exchange across geographies and communities.

This should undoubtedly make for a weekend of lively discussion—one I’m thrilled to be a part of. All the scattered ground-up arts initiatives in this big, often-difficult world really do need to rely on/support one another.

Part of why the convening is happening in Miami is the city’s unique social circumstances—the diverse, sprawling city is in many ways the poster child of globalization.It’s a place with a remarkably resilient artist-run community forever locked in a complicated dance with accelerated capitalism. Defined in the art world’s collective psyche by the its hyper-commercial art fairs, Miami artists must cope with the breakneck speed of gentrification and often survive by skimming the fat of those very systems in order to subvert them. This convening presents an opportunity for us to learn from Miamians’ experience, and hopefully bring some useful outside perspectives to the challenges faced by local arts communities.

Ahead of the convening, Common Field partnered with The Miami Rail and Temporary Art Review to commission a series of essays, Field Perspectives, addressing those issues. If you want a primer before the events kick-off tonight, I highly recommend reading these:

I’m excited to be speaking Saturday, from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on the panel Critical Programs, Critical Ideas. I’ll be joined by Roya Amirsoleymani of the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Darryl Ratcliff of Dallas-based Ash Studios, and Maria Sykes, the co-founder of Epicenter in rural Utah. You can catch us on the livestream I’ve embedded at the top of the page.

I’ll also try to post real-time-ish updates from the convening as much as possible, so check back at AFC throughout the weekend!

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