Dr. Elizabeth Scarbrough

FIU - Philosophy Department

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Q&A with Artist Fereshteh Toosi

I’m so thrilled that Fereshteh Toosi took the time to answer some questions for this blog.  For those of you who do not know her, Fereshteh is a local Miami artist and a member of the FIU faculty.  She joined the art faculty here at FIU in 2017. Since moving to Miami, Professor Toosi has been active embedding herself in the local arts scene. Most recently she has won a prestigious “Ellie” award – she is the recipient of the 2018 Creator Award. She has also published in the Miami Herald and participated in O, Miami’s poetry month.  She runs the Nature Connection Arts Lab where she designs contemplative, sensory outdoor experiences (that you can join her on)! I urge you to check out her work on her website.  I believe her work would be of special interest to folks interested in environmental ethics, or the relationship between art and environmental activism.


1. How did you become an artist?

As a child I liked planning birthday parties for my siblings, making dioramas, photocopying zines, and pressing perfume from roses. I cherished a book called Concoctions which I never returned to the library. It had recipes for things like toothpaste putty and invisible ink. I also took a lot of music lessons and dance classes and I was a yearbook editor in high school, which meant doing a lot of graphic design. All of this influenced the way I make art now, especially because my high school visual art classes were pretty narrow. Like a lot of places, the teacher focused on realistic representation and since that wasn’t my interest, I was unsure what role art would play in my future. I went to a pre-college art program at the art school in Portland Maine and I met students who introduced me to a creative world that was beyond my hometown, but I still wasn’t sure that there was a place for me as an artist. Because I didn’t grow up in a big city, I hadn’t been exposed to a lot of contemporary art in galleries and museums. In college, I learned more about the various ways contemporary artists work, and the fact that I was studying other subjects was really important too. During my senior year I finished my thesis show which was an installation in an empty swimming pool on campus and one of my professors encouraged me to apply for an exhibit at a gallery. Her vote of confidence bolstered me. After graduation I worked in Japan for a couple years and I continued to make art and music while I was there. When I came back to the States, I tried to get an office job to make money but it felt wrong. I started applying to MFA programs and being an artist is what I’ve been focusing on ever since.

2. What art projects are you working on now?

I run an initiative called the Nature Connection Arts Lab which produces performances and media art to foster gratitude, respect, and a renewed commitment to our ecosystems. I guide occasional nature connection art walks in Miami. If you want to join one you can follow the Lab on Instagram or Facebook for announcements.

My Water Radio project is a series of participatory performances during kayak outings along Miami’s canals. Participants travel, share stories, listen, and respond to the sounds of nature underwater.  I think about Timothy Morton’s book Ecology without Nature a lot. But I still use the term nature because it serves as a useful shortcut for people understand that my current work is about how humans can cultivate stronger social relationships with other species and with Earth. It’s mostly about affective experience, but being informed about science is part of it too. I want my work to contribute to the political resistance against ecological crisis.

3. How do your identities shape your work?

Our identities shape everything we do. In my art work, my identities inform the work even if an audience doesn’t notice it expressed in a straightforward way. Art shifts people’s perceptions. As someone whose identities are misunderstood or marginalized, I think about perception all the time. Some of my projects are more directly about my identity as a first-generation American, an immigrant from Iran. But those aren’t my only identities. People have certain expectations of the kind of art someone like me is supposed to be making, and it’s limiting. Everyday I do the quotidian work of being me, of holding my multiple identities, of juggling all my differences. The way I am perceived by others and how I navigate interiority and exteriority is always in the background of everything I do.

 

4. How does philosophy connect with your art work?

My first meaningful encounters with philosophy were in an English class in college, which focused on analyzing literature through critical theory that was largely informed by continental philosophy. The same texts are really important for contemporary art too. The most significant concept is probably the critique of representation. As artists we act as mediators between people and objects, or people and experiences, and we need to understand how to do that in context. If we don’t know philosophy, our art and media literacy is impoverished. I never took any philosophy classes, I was just thrown into some advanced texts. But with time and patience, I was able to connect and I fell in love with philosophy. There are huge gaps in my philosophical knowledge. But that’s ok because it means I get to explore and be exposed to new ideas.  We are meant to be in conversation and dialogue with philosophical writing. Philosophy constructs worlds and metaphors and experiments that are very similar to the methods of art. Philosophy is a really important tool for artists who want to make smart work that engages with issues and aesthetics in a critical way. It helps artists to identify and communicate the significance of our work to ourselves and to our audiences. I find it very inspiring as I consider the intentions and outcomes of my own work. It’s also part of analyzing other people’s art work.

5. What art do you recommend in Miami right now?

The Perez Art Museum has a video piece by Arthur Jafa called Love is the Message, the Message is Death. It’s here until April, don’t sleep on it!

Fall 2018 Pop-Culture Philosophy Roundup

Philosophy in pop culture! Fall 2018 Pop-Culture Roundup:

 

Have other suggestions? Email me at escarbro@fiu.edu!

STUDENT DISCOUNTS – CLASSICAL MUSIC

WALLCAST Concerts with the New World Symphony (Miami Beach, Free)

New World Symphony WALLCAST® concerts, Presented by Citi®, allow you to experience select events throughout the season at SoundScape Park through a striking use of visual and audio technology on the soaring, 7,000-square-foot projection wall of the New World Center. Get there early to set up a good spot for your picnic blanket! Each WALLCAST® concert is free to the public and does not require a ticket.  Check here for the schedule: https://www.nws.edu/events-tickets/wallcast-concerts-and-park-events/

 

New World Symphony (Miami Beach, $5-$15)

The New World Symphony has a student ticket program. They list which performances they have student tickets for on their website here: https://www.nws.edu/events-tickets/discount-tickets/student-tickets/.

 

Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts (Miami, $20)

Arsht UTIX – Discounted Student tickets at the Adrienne Arsht Center

Get access to $20 tickets for 150+ shows throughout our 2018-19 season! Don’t miss some of the hottest shows in Miami — Broadway, Music, Dance, Comedy and more! You must register on their site for these discounts: https://www.arshtcenter.org/Tickets/arsht-utix/

 

 

Florida Grand Opera

The Florida Grand Opera has affordable tickets without a student discount – if you are willing to sit in the nosebleed section (which I am)! You can get regular opera tickets for as low as $15! It’s a steal! https://www.fgo.org

 

Broward Center for the Performing Arts (Broward, 50% off)

Students under 25 can purchase discounted ticketsby choosing STUDENT ticket when purchasing tickets online or in person at the Box Office. STUDENT tickets must be picked up at Will Call at the AutoNation Box Office or Parker Playhouse Box Office the day of show with a valid student ID.Choose the ticket you want, and select “STUDENT TICKET” at checkout. These tickets tend to be 50% off! For example, Hedwig And The Angry Inch is $50 and student tickets are $25! (Teachers also receive 50% off!) The Broward Center also has STUDENT RUSH TICKETS which are only available two hours prior to performance at the Broward Center’s AutoNation Box Office or Parker Playhouse box office with a valid student ID.

 

CULTURE SHOCK (Various location, $5)

If you are under 22, you are entitled to $5 play / concert / museums tickets through CULTURE SHOCK! Look here: https://cultureshockmiami.com

 

Want to know what is going on in classical music in South Florida? http://southfloridaclassicalreview.com

Free or cheap museums in Miami/Miami Beach for FIU Students

Hi FIU aesthetics students! I am trying to compile a list of free/cheap artsy things to do in the area. Have anything you’d like to add? Please e-mail me at escarbro@fiu.edu.

 

 

ART MUSEUMS

 

Patricia & Philip Frost Art Museum (FIU campus, free)

A contemporary art museum, this museum is always free (for everyone)! The museum is located on FIU campus (right next to Vicky’s café) and has rotating exhibits. The museum also hosts various talks and workshops – all for free! The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday and is closed on Monday. https://frost.fiu.edu

 

The Wolfsonian Museum – FIU (Miami Beach, always freefor FIU students/faculty/staff)

The Wolfsonian museum is a quirky collection of objects, from the “mundane to the monumental.” Their objects include ephemera (including propaganda posters), mid-century furniture, paintings, and more. They usually have curated exhibitions of their permanent collection on one floor, and a rotating collection on other floors. The collection contains objects from the 1850s to the 1950s. They have an awesome shop/café on the first floor, great for working after a trip to the museum. Bonus: the museum is open to the public for free every Friday from 6 pm – 9pm, so take your family! https://www.wolfsonian.org

 

Jewish Museum of Florida – FIU (Miami Beach, always freefor FIU students/faculty/staff)

The Jewish Museum of Florida is housed in two buildings that were once synagogues for Miami Beach’s first Jewish congregation. The museum  is “dedicated to telling the story of more than 250 years of Florida Jewish history, arts and culture.” They have rotating exhibits, as well as talks. It is a beautiful space and they have innovative and thought provoking rotating exhibits. Bonus: the museum is free for everyone on Saturday. https://jmof.fiu.edu

 

PAAM ( Perez Art Museum Miami) (Miami, free second Saturdays and first Thursdays)

The PAAM has reopened in a beautiful building, right on the Miami waterfront. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the building itself if worth a visit. The PAAM is “Miami’s flagship art museum,” with exhibits spanning modern to contemporary art. The museum entrance fee is $12 with student ID but is free for everyone every second Saturday and every first Thursdays (every first Thursday with extended hours 10 am – 9 pm). The museum café and shop is also worth a visit!

 

ICA Miami (Institute of Contemporary Art Miami) (Miami, free)

ICA Miami “is dedicated to promoting continuous experimentation in contemporary art, advancing new scholarship and fostering the exchange of art and ideas throughout the Miami region and internationally.” While ICA requests that you reserve tickets online, the tickets are free. ICA is a great contemporary art museum with loads of community engagement and outreach. They have volunteer programs, public talks, and monthly family days. https://www.icamiami.org

 

The Bass (Miami Beach, $5)

The Bass is open Wednesday through Sundays 10 am – 5 pm.  It is a contemporary art museum, which exhibits in a wide range of media. It just reopened October 29, 2017 with new gallery spaces, a museum store and café. They have an “Art After Hours” program and a “Breakfast at The Bass” program. https://thebass.org

 

 

OTHER ART MUSEUMS / COLLECTIONS IN THE AREA:

Lowe Art Museum (U of Miami campus, $8 with student ID)

https://www.lowe.miami.edu

 

The Margulies Collection at the WAREhouse (Wynwood, free for Florida students)

http://www.margulieswarehouse.com/#/home

 

Rubell Family Collection  (Miami, $5 students) (reopens December 5th, 2018)

https://rfc.museum

And if you have a library card, you may be entitled to even more discounts! https://www.mdpls.org/museum-pass/museum-pass.aspv

 

Welcome Students!

Welcome to my  FIU MyWeb .

You will see your course name to the right of this post. Please click on your course for access to your syllabus and other information.

My office hours are T/Th 11:45-1:45 (and by appointment) in DM 340B. Please drop by!

I can be reached at escarbro@fiu.edu. My personal website can be found at elizabethscarbrough.com

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