Once only a destination city for nightlife, beaches and what happens here, stays here moments, the new Miami has transformed into a thriving  arts and culture sector with booming entrepreneurial spaces and cool tech startup companies.

The arts and culture sector in Miami-Dade county generated a whopping 1.43 bil annually in 2017 due in part to Art Basel and supporting organizations such as the Art of Black and Knight Foundation. However, despite these huge income generating opportunities, many local artists aren’t financially benefiting from this boom. Cue in 5 female art activists changing the game by creating a space for artists in the African diaspora to be seen and get paid.

Melissa Hunter Davis

Melissa Hunter Davis is a creative entrepreneur and the mastermind behind Sugarcane. Sugarcane Magazine is an online journal about art of Africa and the African Diaspora. She has an affinity for African arts, African culture, African performers and African literature. Sugarcane’s Black and Basel Guide is one of the go-to publications with everything you need to find artists of African descent in satellite or commercial shows during Miami Art Week.

Karla Ferguson-Soimaud

Karla Ferguson Esq. is the Founder and CEO of Yeelen Group, an award-winning contemporary art dealer, art collector, creative designer, attorney and curator. According to Ferguson, “Yeelen is known for art that speaks to a socially conscious mindset, we challenge the viewer with ideas and imagery that reflects much of their identities”. Yeelen exhibitions beautifully tells the stories of the African Diaspora and the group specializes in brokering high-end, off -market fine art, real estate advisory and private sales.

Rosie Gordon-Wallace

The former licensed medical microbiologist and senior consultant for a pharmaceutical company, is the founder and senior curator of Diaspora Vibe Gallery and Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator, an art incubator space in Miami. Diaspora Vibe Gallery, specializes in Caribbean and Latin American Art with an emphasis on exhibiting emerging artists. With over 20 years in the business, Rosie has won numerous awards and is indomitable figure on the Miami arts scene.

Marie Vickles

Marie is the PAMM Knight associate director of Education, Schools, Outreach and Studio Programs and the curator for the Little Haiti Cultural center. She focuses on creating high-quality accessible arts programs for the residents of Little Haiti and South Florida. She is also interested in developing new ways to bridge the connection between creativity and community engagement, with the goal of encouraging livability through the arts.

Ashlee Thomas

Ashlee serves as the President of Miami Urban Contemporary Experience (MUCE). MUCE is an arts production company bringing a niche heritage experience to the global markets through pop up exhibitions, fairs and festivals. Along with her partner Bart Mervil, MUCE has been able to insulate and promote Black culture by making sure local artists are seen, sold, and reap the financial benefits of the arts sector here in Miami.

As we close out Women’s History Month, you can continue to support amazing female artists by attending the opening reception of the WombMan exhibition on April 20th from 12:30pm – 2pm at the
Ansin Family Art Gallery, 2400 Civic Center Pl, Miramar Fl 33025.

The exhibition, curated by Bart Mervil is a visual representation of femininity, consciousness and sisterhood.

Exhibition dates: March 28th – May 2nd


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Written by: Natasha Wright – Lover of all things in art, community and digital media.