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Criola

Criola Creates an Interdimensional Portal in the Miami Design District

Visitors to the Miami Design District this winter will notice a new, large-scale mural by Criola in the Jungle Plaza. The Brazilian artist has created “Interdimensional Portal,” a 39-by-137-foot illustration that pays homage to Afro-Brazilian ancestry and wisdom—a mirrored image of Black female figures engaged in a ritualistic performance of healing.

Whitewaller spoke with Criola about her interest in public art and its power to evoke positive change.

Criola Criola’s mural “Interdimensional Portal” in the Miami Design District, photo by Luis Gomez.

WHITEWALLER: How did you come to the subject of the mural? What kind of story did you want to tell?

CRIOLA: This mural talks about spirituality, ancestry, and nature. It has elements that bring a symbolic charge that refer to the act of blessing and also to the act of achieving an expansion of consciousness by entering a portal of inner connection. The sword of St. Jorge is a very popular, powerful plant in Brazil; it can be found in many homes and carries with it a meaning of healing, power, religious syncretism, and spirituality. Within the raised hands of the characters on the side, this plant is exactly in the context in which it is interpreted in Brazil: It represents power, the act of healing, and spiritual protection. Raised on the back of Orí (“head” in Yoruba) of the other character, it represents the protection where our eyes cannot reach but it does not cease to exist.

The act of blessing performed with great propriety and naturalness by old ladies and gentlemen with a lot of knowledge about the spiritual and physical properties of power plants is something very common and ancestral in Brazil. It came with enslaved Blacks and Indigenous people who were already in Brazil before Portuguese colonization. The hummingbird in the character’s third eye acts like a medicine animal and refers to conscious expansion when entering this interdimensional portal.

Criola Criola, photo by Bruno Figueiredo / Área de Serviço.

WW: What was it like working on this scale and location?

C: I love to paint on large scales!

WW: What is the role of public art in your practice?

C: Public art is very important because, in addition to being accessible to everyone, it has in its origin a characteristic of reflecting on the use of public space in an active way by the population. For me, its role is to provoke reflections, question patterns, and bring new narratives and languages to cities. In addition, it has immeasurable power to affect people’s lives, the scenery, and everyday life of the street, neighborhood, and city where it is located. I believe that it also has the power to cause positive change. It is democratic art, outside museums, going to people, provoking with colors, shapes, and messages. Each one will interpret in a particular way according to their own universe.

WW: Is there any aspect of this project that you’re going to bring back into the studio?

C: Yes. This is the first mural where I can bring the act of blessing. And for sure this will be reflected in other paintings in the studio.

Criola Criola’s mural “Interdimensional Portal” in the Miami Design District, photo by Luis Gomez.

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