If it seems like making and makers-related projects have been taking off in South Florida, it is through the concerted efforts of a few visionary individuals. Though the creative spark has never been absent from this community, there has been a serious lack in infrastructure for a makers’ culture to emerge.
But that is changing with a growing assemblage of artisans, tinkerers, dreamers, artists, crafters, and tech types now finding themselves in a communal sense with spaces operating around town. While the steps to making these spaces fiscally viable in the long run are slow, if not timid, there is one unifying event that has done a lot for the local maker identity and continues to excel in its execution, the Miami Mini Maker Faire.
Founded in 2013 by local non-profit MIAMade in association with Maker Media and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Miami Mini Maker Faire is the premiere showcase event for makers looking to connect and form the tangible relationships that make making an exciting and productive opportunity.
The Mini Maker Faire is “an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, artisans, tinkerers, entrepreneurs and educators who get together to show what they make and share what they have learned with local audiences. It’s a festival of do-it-yourself invention, creativity and resourcefulness in celebration of the Maker Movement,” as stated on their website.
This year’s Faire will feature a larger showing of community partners and institutions showcasing their work like Microsoft, Pilot VR, the Little River Cooperative, Maker|Bright, IS Projects, as well as many others. Frost Science will have a pavilion housing associate entities like CappSci, DesignLab Miami, ARTSail, REM Learning, and Stuffmaker. The Perez Art Museum Miami will also be present for the “Persistence of Vision” program, exploring the analogue and digital forms of animation.
Recent thaws between the US and Cuba will yield an opportunity for this year’s Faire to include a group of 11 entrepreneurs, all members of the arts collective, Fábrica de Arte Cubano, “an acclaimed mixed-use creative space in Havana, Cuba, and represent a diverse range of craftsmanship, from industrial design and architecture to graphic design, fashion design and bronze sculpting.”
They’ve been diligently at work at Miami Industrial Arts and Moonlighter, two local, membership-based maker spaces, building a pair of installations exhibiting the industrious, resilient and resourceful spirit of Cuban makers. Clearly the pièce de résistance of their exhibit and of the Faire’s overall spirit, they’ll also be on hand to showcase other creations and to share their skills with fairgoers.
Another component of this year’s event, is music. Beloved locals Afrobeta and Cuban hip-hop and afro-rock pioneer X Alfonso, himself a co-founder of Fábrica de Arte Cubano, will perform. “From the first year of Miami Maker Faire, we wanted to host a concert featuring regional artists who embodied the maker spirit – those who excel not just at creating fun and amazing music but also who take a distinctive do-it-yourself approach to things like wardrobe, set design and multimedia production,” stated Ric Herrero, founder of MIAMade and lead producer of Miami Mini Maker Faire, on their website.
Often, the first step in creating is trying. Getting one’s hands involved does a lot for breaking down preconceptions and demystifying concepts previously thought unattainable. The Miami Mini Maker Faire is a great opportunity for seeing the satisfaction of creating up close as well as networking with people in the movement.
Aimed at the whole family, there are no age restrictions to making. Creation is a key component of being human.
Miami Mini Maker Faire takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, February 20th and Sunday, February 21st at the National YoungArts Foundation campus, 2100 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami. Tickets cost $12 plus $1.59 fee for a one-day pass and $18 plus $1.89 fee for a two-day pass are on sale now at makerfairemiami.com.
The Music Makers Showcase featuring X Alfonso and Afrobeta takes place from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on February 20th. Tickets to the Music Makers Showcase are FREE and can be downloaded at makerfairemiami.com.
Slider image from Miami Mini Maker Faire FaceBook page.
The photos below are of the installations being built by the Cuban artists at Miami Industrial Arts. All photos by James Herring.
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