A group of Florida teens is embracing their inner "Florida Man" with an art exhibition at Miami's Locust Projects which, every summer for the last six years, has handed its gallery over to high-schoolers for the Locust Arts Builders program.
This year's exhibition, free and open to the public until August 8, is inspired by the @_FloridaMan Twitter account, which has earned more than 300,000 followers by simply tweeting out headlines from stories about a Florida man or woman doing something you’d expect to see in a Carl Hiaasen novel.
When Catherine Camargo, one of the young artists, started reading the @_FloridaMan Twitter account, she decided she needed human teeth.
“That one?” she says, pointing to a wisdom tooth that she taped to a bright pink canvas. “My friend Zeke had it taken out like less than a month ago.”
Camargo, a 16-year-old New World School of the Arts student, pulled her piece directly from this @_FloridaMan tweet:
No, none of the teeth Camargo used actually came from that child.
Catherine Camargo’s piece was one of the more literal takes on Florida Man: teeth on a pink canvas, a pink tire in a plexiglass and plywood box.
“I hear all these [Florida Man stories] and I’m like: bring it on. This is where I’m from. Like it’s crazy, it’s fun. And I completely prefer it over living somewhere boring.”
The exhibition includes a series of cartoon posters depicting Florida Man-inspired stories. A couple of disturbing takes on palm trees. An army of lawn flamingos made from concrete -- crumbling.
And then there’s the 700-square-feet of actual @_FloridaMan tweets.
“Yeah, we took a couple of days to put everything up there,” says Glenn Espinosa, an 18-year-old student from G. Holmes Braddock High School in West Kendall.
The group started printing out tweets as inspiration. Eventually they decided those printouts should be part of the exhibition, too. An entire 15-foot-tall gallery wall is papered with headlines such as: “Florida Man Calls 911 To Check Status Of Tax Return”; “Florida Man Says That He Danced On Patrol Car In Order To Escape Vampires”; “Florida Man Assaults Brother With Bowl Of Chicken.”
“That in itself was what we collaborated the most on,” Espinosa said. “Everyone did, like, a section and it was fun because while we were doing it we were always reading and getting new inspiration because it’s wild!”
Liz Shannon, Locust’s exhibitions and programming director, says asking 20 artists to work together like this is admittedly odd.
“Because in some senses they’ll never have to work like this as artists ever again. So it’s a challenge,” she says, adding that most of these students didn’t know each other.
More surprising to Shannon, though, than how well the teenagers came together: those teeth in Catherine Camargo’s piece.
“I didn’t know they were real until, like, a week after the show opened,” she says. “Yeah, I didn’t know people just keep teeth around the house, apparently.”
Apparently, they do -- in Florida.