MOCA North Miami to Install Photojournalist Carl Juste's Work on MOCA Plaza
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.