Artist to Watch: Agustina Woodgate
By BETH LANDMAN
|Woodgate at Fountainhead Studios in Morningside, with globes from her “Sooner than Later” series and Chalk Wall No. 2 (IN BACK)|
When Buenos Aires-born Agustina Woodgate followed her boyfriend to Miami in 2004, she thought the trip would just be an extended visit. “I said I can sleep by the ocean for a year,” Woodgate recalls. That was more than seven years ago, and she hasn’t left yet.
At the time, the conceptual artist spoke broken English and had created only one piece, Changes—a work composed of 24 printed panels featuring her face and figure onto which she sewed her own hair, which she had collected from her drain over the course of a year.
Woodgate answered an ad on Craigslist from a Wynwood gallery looking for artists; she submitted two images of her sole effort and was selected to show. “I was just out of university, but they liked the fact that in the piece, when I put hair on my face, I was shifting my gender and identity,” she says. “Miami was such a welcoming place. For me, it was a playground with all kinds of possibilities.”
Her original art dealer at that gallery, Anthony Spinello, founded his own contemporary art venture in 2005, Spinello Projects, and has continued to represent Woodgate. In the last few years, the statuesque brunette has stretched beyond the gallery walls into public spaces and now a museum. She was commissioned by Locust Projects to create two billboards and 35 bus shelters around the city. “The colors change in the light,” she explains. “When it’s raining, you don’t see anything, but when the light hits them, they look like rainbows.”
She was also commissioned by the city to design a series of park benches on Lincoln Road in memory of Stanley Levine, the man who transformed the street into a pedestrian walkway. “It was incredibly satisfying to me because it created a gathering area which fosters relationships. Art should be a tool to bring people together, and I like how flexible and open Miami feels. The amount of available space inspires me.”
Woodgate also garnered attention by “poetry bombing”—sneaking into thrift shops and sewing labels containing verse into the clothing.
At the moment, much of her focus is on Kulturpark, a major project that will breathe new life into a shuttered Cold War-era amusement park in Berlin, thanks in part to a research grant from Art Matters.
“I just sat down to a meeting with visionaries and their crazy ideas,” she says. The creative initiatives for the monumental collaborative project include artworks such as ecological graffiti, sustainable bicycles built from repurposed pieces of past park rides, installations, and storytelling projects.
Unlike artists who are holed up in their studios creating alone, Woodgate has always enjoyed collaborative efforts. “I have not experienced competition or rivalry from my peers,” she explains. “Here, everyone wants to work together.”
photograph by Presscott McDonald