We are dedicated to harnessing the access afforded to the artistic by facilitating internal and external moments of municipal inquiry and exchange. We achieve this via the direct foiling of institutions entrusted to take action, thus creating opportunities for deliberate and purposeful inaction. The Department of Reflection (DoR) operates under the belief that it is just as important for our institutions to be vulnerable as it is for them to be strong, trusting that moments of vulnerability and reflection lead to greater understanding and multifaceted growth.
Founded in 2018, in collaboration with the City of Miami Beach, the Department of Reflection is a foil (or reflection) of municipal entities while producing creative moments of exchange (and reflection) between the municipality and its residents, between the institution and its engagement, and between the museum and its public. To DoR, everything is the municipality. We are the municipality.
Between 2018 and 2020, DoR worked closely with the Environment & Sustainability Department of the City of Miami Beach. Through said department, we worked directly with and alongside other city departments, aligning ourselves with Miami Beach's goals while presenting alternative perspectives via critical internal dialogue and supplementary forms of public engagement. Working under the acknowledgement that Miami Beach is a vital leader in Miami-Dade County and the entire South Florida region, and as such is oftentimes responsible for setting trends and new standards, DoR views its role(s) within the city as applying locally, regionally, and globally.
With self-appointed authority (in collaboration with the appropriate city officials and departments), and through historical research and interdepartmental inquiry we investigate the past, identifying patterns within. Harnessing this information, we create original participatory investments in community place-making, facilitating dialogue and exchange amongst municipal staff, residents, and one another. Moments of reflection big and small are the result. Through these efforts DoR becomes a post-governmental intermediary between stakeholders, as well as a platform for healthy public critique, influencing future decision-making.
Beyond our local municipalities, DoR works inter-municipally and across institutions. We strive to point to and expose areas which are typically hidden from or overlooked by residents and tourists, confronting observers with what’s at stake. As an informed and embedded outsider, our job is not to help move public opinion in any one direction, but instead to facilitate dialogue and deepen mutual understanding towards common solutions. We achieve this in part by recognizing that the city and it's institutions are here to work for its citizens. In short, DoR wants citizens to care, and with all the facts in front of them.
DoR is currently represented by its Director misael soto and a robust group of contributors. We are a burgeoning department still learning as we endeavor; in flux, ever growing, changing, and adapting to better serve the municipalities we work with. We invite you to join us on this mission!
misael soto is the Director of the Department of Reflection, where they direct themselves as well as an ever-changing group of volunteers and creative collaborators on an undisclosed annual budget. Since founding the Department of Reflection in 2018, misael has been a transformational and innovative leader who has continuously applied their more than 10 years of experience to best serve the department's stakeholders. misael’s most notable accomplishments include developing and implementing Sand: Amphitheater, Theater, Arena, a public installation that engaged about 500 residents and visitors directly, as well as countless passersby over the course of one month in the Fall of 2018. Sand retroactively proved to be the beginning of the Department of Reflection.
Prior to joining the Department of Reflection, misael received their MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2018) and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor's Degree in Art History from Florida Atlantic University (2008). misael was the first ever Art in Public Life Resident with the City of Miami Beach's Department of Environment and Sustainability and Oolite Arts. Beyond their public artworks which they have shown extensively for many years, misael has exhibited at MCA Chicago, Open Engagement 2015, the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, Material Art Fair in Mexico City, David Castillo Gallery in Miami, and Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, amongst others. misael is a studio artist at Dimensions Variable and has participated in Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts' Fall 2020 Residency Program in Omaha, NE, The Fountainhead Residency in Miami, FL, the ACRE Residency Program in Steuben, WI, and HomeBase Project's HB Build Artist-in-Residence program in Berlin, and will participate in the Heat Exchange, Exchange program with BFI Miami and Rogaland Kunstsenter in Stavanger, Norway, and Santa Fe Art Institute's residency.
The Department of Reflection's Reflection Committee is a dynamic group of determined volunteers eager to work with the Department in making a difference. This group of area residents and regional collaborators meet periodically with Department staff to discuss and inform each other, bring personal concerns to the table, and assist in furthering the Department's various agendas. The Reflection Committee's input focuses on how to strategically use and better leverage the direct access the Department of Reflection has to participating municipalities and institutions (currently the City of Miami Beach).
Download the the Department of Reflection's 2019 Year End Report! It's full of all of our recent accomplishments, with stats and figures from the past year, a collection of information we like to call “affective data,” and some direct recommendations from DoR and collaborators.
artnet News, December, 2019
Bmore Art, December, 2019
WLRN, October, 2019
Miami New Times, October, 2019
Culture Trip, June, 2019
The Department of Reflection is made possible with support from the City of Miami Beach.