Dr. Donette Francis
2021 Art Circuits’ Critic’s Choice art writer

Donette Francis is an Associate Professor of English and American Studies at the University of Miami, where she is a founding member of the Hemispheric Caribbean Studies Collective. She is the author of Fictions of Feminine Citizenship: Sexuality and the Nation in Contemporary Caribbean Literature.



This month’s selections feature artists who explore placemaking through figurative bodies, heritage neighborhoods and transcendent seas. Rethinking demarcations between public and private, self and other, these artists create visual story arcs that appraise the simple beauty, pleasures and challenges embedded in the ordinary and mundane. From Coconut Grove to Fort Lauderdale, these exhibitions train our eyes to see our homespaces anew.


Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU

Place and Purpose: Art Transformation in Coconut Grove

Curated by Amy Galpin

Opens May 29 and On View through September 19, 2021

Conceiving Coconut Grove as an early artistic Mecca of Miami Dade county, this ambitious exhibition sutures together what locals think of as the distinctly racialized neighborhoods of the black and white Groves. Focusing on the period of the 1960s through 1980s “Place and Purpose” stages an artistic conversation between Annette Rawlings, Owen Lee, Roland Woods, Jr., Robert McKnight, Donald McKnight, Dinizulu Gene Tinnie, and Pamela Kabuya Bowens-Saffo, artists who transformed the Grove into a vibrant artistic and politically-engaged place where art was mobilized to transform the skills of its community members. Artists work across various medium including paper, tapestries, sail cloth, murals, sculpture and water colors.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)

I Bet You Didn't Know

Curated by Christina Roldan

On view until September 2021

I Bet You Didn't Know, the fifth Installment of FLL Airport’s rotating employee exhibition, features a wide range of artworks including painting, sculpture, mixed media installations, photography, video, poetry, and music, by 43 airport employees. Found in the walkway connecting Terminals 3 and 4, this inspirational initiative is cherished by artists, visitors, and community members alike, providing a unique platform for these workers to showcase their creativity and talent and to claim the airport as an extended homespace.

NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale

Thomas Bils: Still Cheaper Than Paying

Curated by Bonnie Clearwater and Ariella Wolens

On View through Fall 2021

Still Cheaper Than Paying is the first solo show of Miami-based artist, Thomas Bils, who repurposes parking tickets and other bills to create artwork that critiques the hidden costs of living in South Florida. The exhibition’s title explains the conceptual and practical process of “crowdfunding” to cover the costs from the bills themselves. In pursuit of a net-zero lifestyle, the artist pays off his tickets “one painting at a time” often for the price of the original bill.

Iké Udé: Select Portraits

On View through January 2022

Iké Udé: Select Portraits features selections from the artist’s recent work as well as the more recognizable full-length portraits from his Sartorial Anarchy and Nollywood (Nigerian film industry) series. Through parodic self-portraiture, performance and photography, Udé engages fashion to critique celebrity and wealth and to explore representations of contemporary Africans in film and pop culture. Inserting himself into the images, Udé becomes an agent of critical storytelling using costumes to challenge dualities between the traditional versus the contemporary

Bakehouse Art Complex

Clara Toro: Stakeholders: Wynwood Norte

On View Through May 30, 2021

In Stakeholders: Wynwood Norte, the Colombian-born, Miami-based artist features eighteen photo-documentary images of the Allapattah immigrant community in which she lives and works. Centering the vibrant colors and thoughtfully selected outdoor furnishings of single-family homes, Toro provides an intimate portal into the liveworlds of the Central America and Caribbean immigrant communities who have called this neighborhood home for generations. Photographed in the early daylight, Toro captures the stillness of placemaking before the rush of everyday activities in a neighborhood in the midst of gentrification.
Clara Toro.Untitled Wynwood Norte,2020.


Oolite Arts

From One Sea:Amanda Bradley

On View Through Sept 2021

The beautiful and transcendent horizons depicted in Bradley’s series create intimate moments to recenter the ocean as an expanse of connectivity, belonging, and togetherness. With a series of large monochromatic/grayscale images, these photographs of seas around the Caribbean region invite viewers to reimagine themselves without the constraints of societal constructs of time, place, and identity/nationality.
Amanda Bradley, From One Sea