Although its building is closed, the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA) remains firm in its commitment to make contemporary art accessible with the installation of a new outdoor piece on MOCA Plaza featuring Miami-based artist and award-winning photojournalist Carl Juste’s photograph, “I Am A Man.” Juste has been a photographer with the Miami Herald since 1991.
The project will be on view starting June 18 on the newly renovated MOCA Plaza outside of the museum.
In 2008, while working on a newspaper story with fellow Miami Herald journalist Leonard Pitts Jr., Juste captured the image of Memphis sanitation worker Elmore Nickelberry and his son, Terence, holding placards reading “I Am A Man.” These signs became emblematic of Black Americans’ struggles after being carried during the Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike in 1968. Commenting on his portrait of the elder Nickelberry, Juste has said, “I just wanted to capture that dignity that was often deprived him.”
In 1968, Nickelberry was one of more than 1,300 African-American men employed by the Memphis Department of Public Works who went on strike in response to the deaths of two fellow sanitation workers, Echol Cole and Robert Walker. The two were killed by faulty equipment. The strikers – who had been notoriously badly treated and underpaid – demanded better wages, improved safety measures and overtime compensation. After a sit-in protest, the City Council voted in favor of a pay increase, but the mayor refused to recognize the strike and rejected the vote. The controversy prompted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to visit Memphis, where he gave his last discourse, popularly known as the “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech. He was assassinated the following day.
Juste was born into a politically active family in Haiti. After being forced to leave their homeland in 1965 for political reasons, they eventually settled in Miami’s Haitian community. In addition to photographing for the Miami Herald, Juste has cofounded Iris PhotoCollective (IPC). IPC’s members are photojournalists of color who document people of color’s relationship to the world. In 2019, Juste opened the IPC ArtSpace in Little Haiti. He is currently producing a book and exhibit titled “Havana, Haiti: Two Cultures, One Community,” consisting of photographs and text that explore the bonds between Cuba and Haiti.
“As MOCA enters its third decade, the institution reaffirms its commitment to presenting exhibitions and programs that resonate with the residents of North Miami and the broader audience of South Florida, home to multicultural and multilingual communities and a dedicated artistic network,” said MOCA Executive Director Chana Budgazad Sheldon.
This project is made possible with the generous support of the Miami Herald Media Company.
About Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami
The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA) is dedicated to making contemporary art accessible to diverse audiences through the collection, preservation and exhibition of the best of contemporary art and its art historical influences. MOCA began operating in 1981, opened a new building in 1996 designed by Charles Gwathmey of GSNY, and was the first collecting institution in Miami. Under the direction of recently appointed Executive Director Chana Sheldon, MOCA premiered “AFRICOBRA: Messages to the People” during Art Basel Miami Beach in 2018. “AFRICOBRA: Nation Time,” the next chapter of the exhibition, was selected as an official Collateral Event of Biennale Arte 2019 in Venice, Italy. The museum has achieved re-accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest recognition afforded the nation’s museums. MOCA’s exhibitions and programs are made possible with the generous support of the North Miami mayor and council and the City of North Miami, the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners. The museum has been recognized with grants and awards from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
MOCA is an inclusive cultural hub, embracing the diversity that defines its dynamic community, and organizing exhibitions that propel art and ideas connected to its South Florida home into the global cultural conversation. The museum is located at 770 NE 125th St., North Miami, FL 33161. It is open Tuesday–Sunday from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. (closed Mondays and major holidays). Admission to the museum is $10 and free for MOCA members and North Miami residents. For more information, visit mocanomi.org, call 305-893-6211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.