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Vaina Invoca

Public Art Commission from Miami-Dade County Art in Public Places
at Brisas del Este II in Miami, FL

The Royal Poinciana, otherwise known as the Flamboyan, is a symbolic tree for south Floridians. While the tree is distinct for its fiery red flowers, in this body of work Miami-based artist Jessica Gispert was particularly drawn to the Flamboyan's seedpods, called "Vainas" in Spanish. Their influence is present in a series of works that come together to form an installation in 2022. Works include an aluminum sculpture on the exterior of the building presenting two large-scale abstracted "vainas" near the main entrance. In the lobby, a diptych and triptych of UV prints on Dibond entitled The Source & The Commencement, in which the seedpods – both as sculptures and actual specimens - are held like torches and passed between hands. Surrounding the diptych is original wallpaper designed by the artist, Ponciana Wallpaper, and adjacent, a fiberglass and plaster architectural intervention entitled Under my feet lay memories. For this last element, the artist created a counter-relief in plaster using the impressions of Poinciana seedpods and Oolitic limestone, resulting in a richly textured surface that suggests the mythic seedpods are fossilized in sea-stone. 

While the Royal Poinciana seedpod is a symbol of power as it is used a spiritual tool in the Afro-Caribbean Lucumí religion, for Gispert, the seeds are an expression of personal origins and the deep roots families and cultures establish. The Royal Poinciana is a tree prevalent throughout the Caribbean, often represented in that region’s artwork and murals. The presence of this tree in south Florida has helped many immigrants from the Caribbean, like the artist’s family, feel connected to their adopted home.

"Vainas," 2022
Photographs by Phillip Karp
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