Where book lovers and art lovers unite, Miami hosted its first-ever Tropic Bound Artists’ Book Fair that showcased artists, publishers, book artists, curators and more. Hosted at the Paradise Plaza in the Miami Design district, this four-day event welcomed visitors and artists worldwide under one roof.
Originally planned to take place in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic postponed its launch to this year from Feb. 16-19.
Tropic Bound was developed back in 2019 by Cristina Favretto, Sarah Michelle Rupert and Ingrid Schindall with the support of the Knight Arts Challenge Grant from the John S. and James L Knight Foundation.
“This is three years of hard work on top of our other full-time jobs, but we are really happy,” said Cristina Favretto, the Head of Special Collections at the University of Miami libraries. “We have a wonderful location, the artists are all very supportive and we are happy to bring this art form to Miami.”
Below, meet three of the fair’s artists who wowed visitors with their unique work.
Brooklyn INC & Gloribel Delgado Esquilín
“Un Hueco en el Pecho” (which indirectly translates to “A void in my soul”) sewed onto a hand stitched, colorful textile book immediately grabbed my attention. I was embraced by Marshal Weber’s smiling face, which inspired me to delve into the story of this textile book.
Weber introduced me to the Brooklyn INC table, an artist-run non-profit organization whose mission is to promote artists and organizations committed to environmental and social justice.
Brooklyn INC primarily distributes books to the academic market and includes work from Chile, Puerto Rico, LGBTQ artists and more. Weber showed me the art pieces presented at the fair that were made by Brooklyn INC artists.
I was lucky to meet artist Gloribel Delgado Esquilín from Puerto Rico who created “Un Hueco en el Pecho.” Delgado Esquilín passionately read her story to me and shared how this art piece came into fruition.
“I lost my mom two months ago…this book is [me] having the last conversation with my mom,” Delgado Esquilín said. “How do you say goodbye to somebody you love so much? That’s why it’s called “ un hueco en el pecho.”
As Delgado Esquilín continued reading “Un Hueco en el Pecho,” she explained the symbolism within the story.
“Even the stitches are [done] with a lot of energy,” Delgado Esquilín said. “It’s like I am stitching my heart, stitching that pain, and I know it will last a lot. But that’s my compromise —that’s why it’s so colorful.”
The last words of the textile book read “lo siento, perdóname, gracias, te amo” which translates to “I am sorry, forgive me, I thank you and I love you.”
The artwork on the last page of the book is a spiral and small bells. Delgado Esquilín explained the symbolism of the spiral to a road. It is Delgado Esquilín repeating “lo siento, perdóname, gracias, te amo” to her mother.
“These little bells, is the final. Kids have books like that. When someone dies you have a new life, new steps,” Delgado Esquilín said.
Before leaving, the artist gave me some advice.
“Call your mom and tell her how much you love her,” Delgado Esquilín said. “Maybe we have differences, but at the end, you are the sun of my life,” are Delgado Esquilín’s wise words regarding her feelings toward her mother.
This textile book demonstrated her connection with her mother. The story moved me to tears and I shared an emotional yet beautiful cry with Delgado Esquilín.
Learn more about Delgado Esquilín on Instagram @moninosgloribel.
Along my journey through the fair, I was intrigued by an exquisite, green, layered art piece. Artist Servane Briand told me the meaning of her “Threads of Life” artwork inspired by the three fates from Greek mythology.
There were mini drawers, accordion books and pieces of fabrics that symbolized DNA, cells and morse code. Briand described the year-long process of making this piece and the research he conducted about science and evolution.
“I have to dye the paper, I use natural dyes, I make threads of the paper. Then I make the loop [and] weave it. And there is beeswax… for the transparency,” Briand said.
Learn more about Servane Briand here.
Imagine seeing a bag with the design of an adorable cartoon dog reading a book with the quote “Stick your nose in a good book at Dale Zine.” Wouldn’t you want to learn more about that?
Established in 2009, independent printer and publisher Dale Zine’s mission is to provide a platform for artists and designers.
Dale Zine is a cultural space for the Miami community and allows anyone interested in creating a zine to do so. Zines can be solely words or just pictures made into a book.
Dale Zine offers zine workshops for all ages. Learn more about Dale Zine online and on Instagram @dale_zine.
Other aspects of the fair included welcome day events such as shuttle tours to literary spots throughout Miami, a welcome symposium and Terrace Talks, an intimate series with artists and publishers from the fair.
The diverse range of artists from all over the world brought a fair like no other to Miami.