Miami, FLORIDA-- TIMESCAPES, a five-story mixed-media mural created by South Florida’s New World School of the Arts (NWSA), by college visual artists Jeffrey Noble and Sebastian Duncan-Portuondo, was recently unveiled during a chic VIP reception for select arts enthusiasts and community luminaires at Miami’s Sagamore Hotel. The second artistic project commissioned from NWSA by the Cricket Taplin Collection, Timescapes is a large-scale paint-mosaic-mirror artwork spanning the full height of the semi-exposed stairwell that leads up to the Muse beauty suite, the beachside spa at the “art hotel.”
The three-hour fete was much “more than an opportunity to enjoy this artwork,” explained Maggy Cuesta, dean of the visual arts program at NWSA. “It was a chance to experience the outcome of a beautifully executed collaboration between two students who barely knew each other at the onset of the project, but who drew inspiration from one another through their unique style and artistic approach.” A short documentary by Wet Heat, capturing the high-powered final week of the artistic effort, premiered during the reception.
Timescapes draws the eye of the viewer through intricate glasswork and a vibrant colorpalette. “My goal was to offer our guests a sensory experience through mixed mediums inspired by the natural oceanfront landscape,” said Cricket Taplin, who, with her husband Marty Taplin, owns the Sagamore Hotel. “The artwork in the lower flights offers a completely different experience – it’s more symmetrical, more organized. As guests climb the stairwell, the energy intensifies resulting in a more abstract yet rhythmic dialogue. The fifth and final flight is climatic – it’s a complete explosion of color, reflections and textures that dance in harmony with each other and with the oceanfront.”
“We referenced the changing sky during the day to create the linear bands of color that appear throughout the design,” explained Noble. “The paint emulates the various tonalities of the sky while the stained glass and the mirrors, working in unison with the paint, capture the hues and bring the sky onto the wallsthrough reflection and refraction.”
Jeffrey’s background in large-scale graffiti art and spray-painting coupled with Sebastian’s vast knowledge of stained glass, mirrored mosaic and public murals were instrumental to the success of the commission. “Both stained glass and spray paint have very highly saturated and flat qualities so it made sense to approach the design in terms of the architecture, the graphics, the space, and the whole context of the environment,” noted Duncan-Portuondo. “Responding to one another’s work as we moved along, having fun with the project and having the freedom to go where we wanted to artistically, is what helped us achieve Cricket’s goal successfully.”
Based on experimentation, exploration and transformation, Timescapes took more than four months to complete, including the rainy season and the scorching summer months. “Rain definitely posed a challenge to the application of the paint,” said Noble, who used more than five hundred cans of special exterior spray paint to complete the artwork. “The paint is marketed specifically to graffiti and street artists. It is very high quality because it’s meant to withstand the elements and the exterior environment. But I still had to contend with the humidity, natural to South Florida, and the buildup of mist on the walls.
Sebastian’s daily installation of the mirrors and mosaics was just as arduous. With more than 3,000 individual pieces of glass cut to fit the specific spots where they were placed, the process entailed trimming large sheets of glass into countless strips, mock placing, marking and cutting each piece of glass according to the artistic manifestation of the area, and meticulously attaching to the wall with the adhesive.
Located at the Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus, “New World School of the Arts college is a unique place. People come from very different periods within their artisticcareers and this has helped me train my eye, making art that speaks more subtly. I am able to handle more complex ideas in a more succinct form,” said Sebastian, who like Jeffrey, will walk out of NWSA this spring with his BFA degree in hand.
New World School of the Arts is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance, Music, Theater and Art & Design, and provides a comprehensive program of artistic, creative and academic development. The conservatory grants the four-year Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees, as well as the high school diploma. NWSA was created by the Florida Legislature as a center of excellence in the performing and visual arts. It is an educational partnership of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami Dade College and the University of Florida.