Miguel Braceli’s voice is quiet, but his laughter echoes. His studio in MICA’s Fred Lazarus Center was intentionally empty and during our conversation his laughter reverberated against the walls. Materials from his staged performances were strewn throughout, including black flag poles, red, white, and blue beach balls, and a box of copies of the United States Constitution.
Braceli describes his practice as an exploration of collective performance in public spaces through “participatory projects.” For one of his most notable projects, “Here We Are,” 30 primarily international MICA students worked together to erect a black flag on the grounds of Baltimore’s City Hall. And instead of a single rectangle of fabric, this flag was made of multiple unwoven black strings. The erection of the flag, normally a military act, was transformed into something more playful and collective, folding and unfolding the “flag” of overflowing forms.
Braceli, a Fulbright scholar, already holds a master’s degree in architecture, and taught architecture for 10 years at the Central University of Venezuela before enrolling in MICA’s Mount Royal School of Art in 2018. He chose to pursue an MFA because he wanted to formally study art, something he had never done before.
Often leaning towards education and non-traditional art methods, Braceli stands out as an international student and social practice artist in an institution where many students are pursuing more conventional art-making practices. Braceli’s work is thought-provoking, beautiful, and fluid, using participation to create works that explore poignant topics and reflect our times.
I interviewed Braceli in February, before the COVID-19 threat was clear in this country, and shortly after that, when schools had to suddenly close, I thought about his work immediately. In this unexpected age of social distancing, Braceli’s practice can give us hope, but can also drive us to be critical and questioning of the traditional models of education that exist now. New models need to be created, new worlds erected. And laughter is where we need to return.
Artist: Miguel Braceli
Graduate Institution: Maryland Institute College of Art, Mount Royal School of Art (Multidisciplinary MFA)
Tuition: $50,160 per academic year
NOTE: Photos provided by the artist. Although the interview took place in Braceli’s studio, with the sudden closure of MICA’s campus due to COVID-19, we were unable to return to the studio to photograph the artist and his work. His thesis exhibition is viewable online.