"Within complex and ever shifting realms of power relations, do we position ourselves on the side of colonizing mentality? Or do we continue to stand in political resistance with the oppressed, ready to offer our ways of seeing and theorizing, of making culture, towards that revolutionary effort which seeks to create space where there is unlimited access to the pleasure and power of knowing, where transformation is possible? That choice is crucial, because it determines “our capacity to envision new alternative, oppositional aesthetic acts” and “informs the way we speak about these issues, the language we choose."
[Bell Hooks Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics. Boston: South End, 1990. 145-53]
WAAM is dedicated to preserving and documenting the studio archives of female-identifying and non-binary artists in Miami. The project is a response to a growing need to build an archival presence in Miami to record the artistic production that has taken place here since the 1980s and beyond. In particular, this project will provide a space for artists who have a social practice. WAAM also recognizes that artists of color have been historically excluded from the archival record. We believe that archives should be reparative spaces that are focused on addressing the critical silences and absences that are inherent in memory work.
To reposition archives that have traditionally operated as sites of privilege, to record the creative contributions of communities who have been left out of the historical record.
To re-examine archival practices and offer access points through multiple pathways that increase visibility for cultural practitioners through dynamic archival programs.
Why are artists' archives important?
Archives preserve different methods artists use to record process: sketches, notebooks, drawings, letters, photos, clippings, digital images, documents, sound recordings, etc.
Archives contain valuable primary source material for researchers, educators, students, historians & the community.
Archives provide a window into an artist's creative process and provide critical contextual and historical information.
Funding from the Wavemaker Grant enabled the building of WAAM Pilot Digital Archive. In 2020-2021, WAAM worked with eight artists to preserve their studio archives. Using an open-source platform, artists can create collections that preserve their living legacies. WAAM centers people first and emphasizes a participatory approach to archiving, where the artist or cultural producer is in control of shaping their living legacy. By creating peripheral archival access points within the community, WAAM will reframe how archives can engage and support local artists.
This site is the result of a communal effort, and we owe our thanks to the following persons:
Founder & Archivist
Anita Sharma is a Miami-based archivist, researcher, and collections manager with over twenty years of experience in the field of Visual Arts Archiving. She is the founder of WAAM (Women Artists Archive Miami) and specializes in community-based archiving initiatives, digital archiving practices and legacy preservation. She has worked at libraries, archives, museums and private collections in the US, England & India, including the British Library, Arani & Shumita Bose Collection, Rubell Collection, Debra & Dennis Scholl Collection, Zarina Hashmi Archive, Frost Art Museum, Aditi Singh Archive & SALIDAA (South Asian Diaspora Literature & Arts Archive).
Devora Perez is a digital archivist and visual artist born and raised in Miami. She earned her BFA from New World School of the Arts in 2016, and her MFA from Florida International University in 2020. Perez is trained in Archiving and Digitization Fundamentals I & II and has digitized 25 years’ worth of DVCAI’s archive. The project was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and carried out in partnership with the University of Miami's Special Collections and Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) at Florida International University. Perez currently works as the Project Coordinator and Digital Archivist at Women Artists Archive Miami (WAAM).
Alexia Avila began working in the Miami arts community while studying at Miami Arts Charter high school. She has participated in internships at the ICA, WAAM and continues to gain experience in visual arts archiving, art administration and curation. In addition to working as an archives assistant at WAAM, she has worked at Salem Art Gallery, Dimensions Variable, and Directed Art Modern. She is currently earning her BFA at the Montserrat College of Art.
Italian-born Daniele Binaghi has been a professional system administrator and software developer for many years, before turning to translation, journalism and finally to tour leading, his actual profession (and one he likes very much). He still works as a part-time website and code developer for different NGO and commercial projects. Recently, he's worked on online dictionaries and language courses websites, although his main occupation has been with online archives using Omeka technology, for which he has developed and/or improved several plugins.
Our gratitude goes out also to our advisors:
- Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova
- Dr. Elizabeth Shannon
- Beatrice Skokan
- Dainy Tapia
- Marie Vickles
Special thanks to Angel Lauren Garcia, Rachel Komich, Frances Trombly, Leyden Rodriguez and Mathew Webb for their continual support and belief in the development of this archives initiative.
WAAM is supported by Locust Projects through the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts’ Regional Regranting Program, Oolite Arts, Knight Foundation, The Awesome Foundation & Dimensions Variable.