Smoke Signals Studio on Showcasing Damon Davis’ Exhibit, Darker Gods

On December 5-9 from 10 am-9 am, Smoke Signals Studio will be presenting Damon Davis’ afro-surrealist, Darker Gods in The Garden of The Low Hanging Heavens. The exhibit is described as “using sound, photography, film, illustration and written word, Davis takes western fears and infatuations of Blackness and creates a world where Gods of color reclaim their identity through the supernatural.”
Key times to visit the studio at 6300 NW 2nd Ave. include  the opening reception Thursday, December 6 from 7-10 , with music by Coco & Breezy or Friday, December 7 at 4 when the artist will speak.
Jitney Books spoke to Smoke Signals Studio co-founder Aja Monet about the current exhibition, the importance the studio places on helping Miami’s under-served, and what we can expect from Smoke Signals Studio in the near future.
Why did you start Smoke Signals Studio?
Aja Monet: My partner, Phillip Agnew and I wanted to cultivate a space for artists and community organizers to be in conversation and collaboration. There are many organizers who consider themselves artists and vice versa. How do we be more intentional in the messaging of our music, poetry, film, and visual art?

How did you decide to show Damon Davis’ exhibition during Art Basel?
Damon is a multi-disciplinary artist and he was an artist-in-residence for our movement music project this past June where we brought two Miami artists and two St Louis artists together and he produced the music. Thanks to Karissa and Center for Third World Organizing. We also showcased Damon’s art work at our first annual Maroon Poetry Festival this past June after he showed us his visual art. He was determined to be here for Art Basel and we are simply here to support his artistic vision as part of the programming of a week of events under #OURBASEL 

What can people expect from the exhibition?
Damon Davis wants to evoke the language of gods into our modern day conversation in a means to complicate the narrative of good and evil. The art is altered photographs that are meant to get us to see ourselves differently. We hope people will see the range of us and be encouraged to confront, discuss, and engage with community when they showcase art. 

How has Miami influenced the gallery and the art you show?
We are deeply connected to Miami’s community organizing and art community so we are affected by the culture of art and murals and how they have made us critical of the way art is used to gentrify and displace poor people. Many developers have free reign in Miami without much accountability to community and they pay artists as well as elected officials toward their colonial cause. We are trying to support artists who are helping to make Miami and Florida better for those most vulnerable. Everyone loves the beautification of their neighborhoods but we all want to be able to participate in the joys of our communities without being further removed from it. We want art that feeds, challenges, and moves us. We want art in the service of the people not profit.

What can we expect from Smoke Signals Studio  in the future?
We look forward to way more projects and collaborations with local Miami artists and organizations. We have a book series where we are working to help publish work by those often left in the margins of the publishing world. Literacy and legal services is super important so we continue to work with Community Justice Project on VOICES: Poetry for the People. We are working with Dream Defenders on a Freedom Music Mixtape. We hope to present more visual artists who disrupt the exploitation of art. We continue to do our Open House jam sessions & events and there’s no telling what else is in store. We look forward to more support and eventually a more just and equitable Florida.
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David Rolland

David Rolland edits the Jitney blog. He is the author of the novels Yo-Yo & The End of the Century.