How This Iconic Chicago Sculpture Ended up in Miami
By Marcelle Sussman Fischler| April 15, 2016 |
Chicagoans may fantasize about moving to South Florida, but for Jaume Plensa’s enormous sculpture, that dream is coming true.
Looking Into My Dreams, Awilda lived in Chicago’s Millennium Park until this past January; now art connoisseur Jorge Pérez is giving the sculpture a new home, outside Pérez Art Museum Miami.
Her name is Awilda. Her expression is thoughtful. Her eyes are closed, as if she were dreaming. Made of resin and marble dust, her 39-foot-tall head—her white face long yet placid, her hair pulled back into a braid—was sculpted by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. For Jorge Pérez, chairman and CEO of the Related Group as well as an avid art collector and local supporter of the arts, it was love at first sight. So this spring, the striking sculpture, titled Looking Into My Dreams, Awilda, is moving from Chicago’s Millennium Park to Miami’s Museum Park (and ultimately to Auberge on Biscayne Boulevard), where it’s sure to galvanize the city’s public-art scene. Ocean Drive spoke with the men about this one-of-a-kind work and why it’s ideally suited to South Florida.
What is this big head? Jaume Plensa: Awilda was a girl from the Dominican Republic living in Barcelona. It was a project that originated in Rio de Janeiro, a head rising from Guanabara Bay in front of Sugarloaf Mountain. It was an homage to the sea, to the ocean. Jorge Pérez: It is large and visually imposing, but at the same time it’s a very quiet piece. I first saw it as a part of Jaume’s larger “1004 Portraits” installation in Chicago’s Millennium Park in 2014. I had seen it in pictures, but you can only comprehend the real scale and magnitude of the piece when you see it in person.
What was your first impression? Pérez: Awe, certainly.
Jaume, how did you conceive and create the sculpture? Plensa: I do a model to understand the shape. By computer, we create the enlargement of the piece, then we make the molds. From the molds, we cast in resin, marble dust every section, and create a metal structure inside to hold it up. A piece like that takes almost one year to be done. It weighs more than a ton.
What does the sculpture symbolize? Plensa: We are surrounded by cities and landscapes, but we have so much inside each of us. The intention is to have us think about it. When the visitor is in front of the piece, it becomes a mirror. They can imagine all the beauty they are feeling inside themselves. The head is a container. In that container, you can put all your dreams and ambitions. The message is that the head is the power of our dreams. Pérez: I love that it memorializes the humanity in every individual.
Where does Awilda fit into Miami’s booming public-art scene? Pérez: As soon as I saw Looking Into My Dreams, Awilda, I knew the piece belonged in Miami. Major public exhibitions go a long way to identify cities as important cultural destinations, and that is exactly what we’re trying to achieve. Whenever my team and I attend art fairs, biennials, and other events, we are looking not only for pieces that speak to us on an emotional level, but those that have the power to help in our city’s growth and evolution. Awilda was exactly that. Plensa: For Awilda, Miami is the perfect place to live. Water is the main public space in the world. Miami in that way is perfect: It is completely open to the ocean.
Where will Awilda be placed? Pérez: The piece will be installed near the water, and very close to [Pérez Art Museum Miami]. It will be on loan at Museum Park for some time before we place it [at Auberge] on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami. How will it enhance the museum’s collection? Pérez: In addition to PAMM’s building, we always envisioned the museum with a sculpture park around the museum’s perimeter and extending out into the adjacent Museum Park. Looking Into My Dreams, Awilda will become an iconic piece for the museum in this regard.