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Vizcaya Museum and Gardens


  • Carlos Gabaldon, Amy Johnson, James Martin, and Nick Simko, Village Carousel, 2018, CAP Lab, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Photo: David Almeida, courtesy Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Carlos Gabaldon, Amy Johnson, James Martin, and Nick Simko, Village Carousel, 2018, CAP Lab, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Photo: David Almeida, courtesy Vizcaya Museum and Gardens


CAP Lab: Emerging Artists in a Community Museum

Vizcaya founded CAP Lab in 2014 in partnership with the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts at Florida International University. This learning initiative has multiple objectives, among them to further Vizcaya’s commitment to learning by engaging university students, fostering interactions between students and working artists, and further integrating the Contemporary Arts Program (CAP) into the fabric of the museum. CAP Lab provides students with real-world experience in the arts by engaging them in the museum’s annual CAP exhibition. As part of CAP Lab, a customized syllabus is created for students enrolled in FIU’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program in Visual Arts to explore the complex and contextually rich situations that arise when contemporary artists develop site-specific work for a hundred-year-old historic estate.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Florida International University College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts, and the University of New Mexico College of Fine Arts present CAP Lab: Overload. CAP Lab provides students with real-world experience in the arts by asking them to respond to the theme of Vizcaya’s annual Contemporary Arts Program (CAP) exhibition. CAP Lab: Overload explores the concept of immersion at Vizcaya. We invited artists to consider how the activation of the senses can alter the experience of a space.

CAP Lab participants were asked to consider the notion of immersion at the Vizcaya Village, a space that is not open to the public, yet is an integral part of Vizcaya. Students received the same request for proposals that was issued to the four artists who were commissioned to create works for Overload. To develop project proposals, students from both universities participated in on-site visits and conducted research, considering Vizcaya’s rich native, subtropical landscapes and place in the city of Miami; the intersections of old and new, American and European that can be found on the estate; the experiences of the people who lived and worked at the estate in the past; and the experiences of people who visit and work at the estate today. Using Google hangouts, students and faculty from Florida International University and the University of New Mexico, along with Vizcaya staff, engaged in collaborative peer review to advance ideas into proposals and ultimately into the variety of projects now on view.

FIU Faculty: Jacek Kolasinski, Chair of the Art + Art History Department and Associate Professor of Visual Arts and Robert Chambers, Visiting Assistant Professor
FIU Students: Gianna DiBartolomeo, Jose Garcia, Rhea Leonard, Angela Yang

UNM Faculty: Szu-Han Ho, Assistant Professor, Art & Ecology
UNM Students: Carlos Gabaldon, Amy Johnson, James Martin, Nicholas Simko

As the program continually evolves, CAP Lab co-created a course with artist Robert Chambers, who is teaching Object Design this fall. Through a pecha kuccha proposal students have conceptualized site-specific projects for exhibition in Vizcaya’s Village. Students used the centennial exhibition, Lost Spaces and Stories of Vizcaya, as a lens to explore materiality, replication, historic and modern fabrication techniques. Student projects were on view during a one-night exhibition on December 5, 2016.

In its second year, Vizcaya co-created another course with Professor Jacek Kolasinski to explore the conceptual and logistical considerations for site-specific performance work, or installations resulting from or based on a performance. Participating students were paired with the commissioned artists for the annual CAP exhibition Fantastical Vizcaya and charged to develop case studies for each artist’s project. The museum organized classroom and studio visits to connect students with artists, which resulted in rich discussions in artistic practice. Based on the individual needs of the artists, students supported installation and preparation, public programs at the museum during Art Basel Miami Beach week and in some cases implementation for the one-night exhibition.

The following students were our partners in 2015. Two case studies on artist Dona Altemus and her project Southeastern Quadrant are featured below to demonstrate how each student developed and presented their case study through a personal lens.

Amandy F. Carranza
Matthew Adrian Chernoff
Jose Garcia
Michael E. Gray
Rhea Leonard
Lana Martínez
Charline Monjanel
Samannaz Rohanimanesh
Sterling Rook
Maricel Ruiz
Ana Isabel Sanz-Saumeth
Angela Yang
Case Study, Michael Gray 
Case Study, Jose Garcia

Southeastern Quadrant

Co-creating this course with Professor Jacek Kolasinski challenged us to consider how to best present and support practical professional experience for emerging artists. Participating students worked in small groups to submit exhibition proposals using the same RFP that the museum issued to artists for the annual CAP exhibition Vizcaya-fy or Bust!  Throughout a complex and demanding semester, students admirably rose to the occasion discovering lessons from success as well as disappointment. Success was not defined by an artwork included in an exhibition, but through collaboration, reflective practice, critical inquiry, and skill development. The following students were our partners for the first-ever CAP Lab. Two of four student groups realized their concepts for exhibition.

Colette Alhabahbeh-Mello
Mariele Capssa
Javier Cuarezma
Danielle Damas
Isis Ellis
Diana Garcia
Hazel Gil-Salazar
Victor Golden
Roma Ingrid James
Meg Kaplan-Noach
Joe Locke
Susan Maas
Daniel Marosi
Guido Mena
Kim Moore
Christopher Rodriguez Barake
Brittni S. Winkler

The Love Barge
Mariele Capssa, Susan Maas, Daniel Marosi, Guido Mena, Christopher Rodriguez Barake
Vizcaya’s Barge (off the East Terrace in Biscayne Bay) is playfully reimagined as an inflatable floating sculpture decorated with objects that epitomize Miami: dolphins, flamingos, seahorses and lizards. This pastiche of symbolism underscores the emblematic nature of Vizcaya and Miami.

Pomp and Circumstance
Danielle Damas, Joe Locke, Kim Moore, Brittni S. Winkler
A projection of an iconic royal wedding paired with music played on Vizcaya’s organ alludes to the numerous weddings that take place here. The architecture and formal gardens become a backdrop for these ceremonies that parallel the appropriation evident in Vizcaya’s own history.