In Conversation With Karla Ferguson-soimaud: Creating A Hub For Social Thought In Miami

Yeelen Gallery, located in Miami’s Little Haiti, is more than just a commercial art gallery, but a powerful space that nurtures political thought, social advancement, and community building.

Owned and operated by Karla Ferguson-Soimaud, Yeelen Gallery boasts an impressive roster of artists rooted in exploring race, class, and gender at the intersection of visual arts.

 Notable painters such as Tim Okamura, Sylvia Maier, and Patrick Earle Hammie use their canvases to examine narratives centered around female empowerment, gun violence, identity and sexuality. Their messaging and visual statements resonate with Yeelen’s purpose and philosophy. Previous exhibits such as Black Freedom, What’s Inside Her Never Dies, and TransCuba, tell compelling stories in an ongoing dialogue regarding racial equality, black feminism, and transgender/queer rights. Ferguson-Soimaud bridges art and social justice in showcasing intellect-provoking exhibitions, and by championing artists of color, succeeds in sharing their crucial perspectives. I speak with the gallerist about her work/life balance, what’s next for Yeelen, and the state of the Miami art scene.

Jasmin Hernandez: Prior to opening Yeelen gallery, you worked as a civil rights attorney, how did you evolve into becoming a gallerist?

Karla Ferguson-Soimaud: I joined the Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO) in 2001 while still a law student which allowed me to really explore the underbelly of our democracy, I got to see first hand how racism, classism and the prison industrial complex truly functioned. Deeply rooted in our nation’s history are a ton of skeletons, which inform our contemporary experience. During this time I used art as an outlet, I spent my free time going to galleries, museums and conversing with creatives in general, heavy topics such as civil rights and police misconduct would come up frequently; I took what I learned and applied it to art in the form of social practice and commentary.

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