Ping Pong Party at The Underline

June 3, 2021
by Meg Daly

Miami-Dade County Art in Public Places and The Underline present June 8th public art reveal of Cara Despain’s Water/Tables

Miami, June 3, 2021– Art in Public Places, part of Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs with partners The Underline and The Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works will unveil the work of artist Cara Despain on June 8th from 6 PM – 8 PM with a reception presented by Swire Properties. The work, called.  Water/Tables, is a pair of artist-designed playable ping pong tables. The launch is part of the inauguration of the Underline’s first completed phase, the Brickell Backyard.  

Adhering to the same dimensions as standard ping pong tables, Water/Tables invite direct engagement with visitors, complimenting The Underline’s mission to activate public space as a site of movement, health, interactivity, and art. Visitors are invited to bring their own ping pong balls and paddles and engage in friendly tournaments and casual socializing.

Located at the intersection of SW 1st Avenue and SW 9th Street in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood, Water/Tables utilize their position to serve as a playful reminder of the city’s geography. Continuing Despain’s body of work addressing issues related to climate change, the work highlights the actual water table–the level of groundwater beneath the surface that rises through Miami’s oolitic limestone as the sea level rises. Driving this point, etched on the side of each table is the approximate measurement of the depth to the actual water table and elevation above sea level at that particular location. 

The sculpture is the first permanent public artwork to be completed on The Underline. Friends of The Underline has been committed to transforming the underutilized land below Miami’s Metrorail—from the Miami River to Dadeland South Station—into a 10-mile linear park, urban trail and public art destination. The project resulted from a successful public art partnership between noted partners, Swire Properties, and Miami-Dade’s Art in Public Places program, which dedicates 1.5% of construction costs on public land to public art. The Underline will also feature a program of temporary public artworks, activations, and events. Just south of the Brickell Metrorail Station as The Underline path continues is also the new home of artist Athena Tacha’s monumental sculpture Leaning Arches, a seminal 1984 work from Miami-Dade County’s Art in Public Places Collection that was relocated from the Douglas Metrorail Station in 2020. 

In a literal, more humorous sense, Water/Tables transform into fountains activated during times of heavy rainfall—collecting water in the storm drains in the center of the tables and pushing it out through the ball returns on either side. Sea-colored glass terrazzo surfaces quote the Miami architectural vernacular and make a direct connection to downtown’s proximity to Biscayne Bay, and the delicate ecosystems we live and play in.  

About the Artist

Cara Despain is an artist working in film and video, sculpture, photography and installation addressing issues of land use, the desert, climate change, visualizing the Anthropocene, land ownership and the problematics of frontierism. Writing and research play a major role in all of her creative work, and which often includes extensive fieldwork. She was born in Salt Lake City, Utah (1983) and currently lives in Miami, Florida and works between the two. She holds a BFA from the University of Utah (2006). In 2012, she received the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Award in visual arts, and in 2016 she was selected for the South Florida Consortium Fellowship. Her work is included in the Rubell Family Collection, as well as the State of Utah and Salt Lake County art collections. Her film credits include Art Director for the feature film The Strongest Man that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival (2015), and A Name Without a Place which premiered at the Miami International Film Festival (2019). In 2019 she was selected for an Ellie’s Award through Oolite Arts for her own feature film Earthbound Objects.

Cara Despain

Water/Tables, 2020

Cast concrete, terrazzo, waterjet cut aluminum with brushed brass finish 

9 x 5 x 2.5’ each (two tables)

SW 1st Avenue at SW 9th Street 

Miami, FL 33130

About Miami-Dade County Art in Public Places 

Art in Public Places is a program of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs responsible for the commission and purchase of artworks by contemporary artists in all media. One of the first public art programs in the country, Miami-Dade Art in Public Places was established in 1973 with the passage of an ordinance allocating 1.5% of the construction cost of new county buildings for the purchase or commission of artworks, educational programs and collection maintenance. The Art Trust Fund is administered by a County Commission-appointed citizens board, the Art in Public Places Trust, in consultation with its Professional Advisory Committee. For more information about the Art in Public Places program visit www.miamidadepublicart.org. @artinpublicplacesmdc #miamidadearts

About Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs

The Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council develop cultural excellence, diversity and participation throughout Miami-Dade County by strategically creating and promoting opportunities for artists and cultural organizations, and our residents and visitors who are their audiences. The Department receives funding through the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners, The Children’s Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, the State of Florida through the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Peacock Foundation, Inc. and The Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation. Other support and services are provided by TicketWeb for the Culture Shock Miami program, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, the South Florida Cultural Consortium, and the Tourist Development Council. For more information please visit www.miamidadearts.org.  

About The Underline 

The Underline is a planned 10-mile urban trail, linear neighborhood park and public art destination that will span from the Miami River, north of Brickell Metrorail station, to Dadeland South. The Underline project will feature dedicated bike and pedestrian paths, amenities, art, programming, lighting, native vegetation as well as safety features and improvements at road crossings. The Underline will be built in phases, the first of which will begin in the Brickell area. For more information, visit www.theunderline.org and/or follow them on social on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @theunderlinemia.

About Swire Properties Inc
Swire Properties Inc, headquartered in Miami since 1979, is one of South Florida’s leading international developers of urban office, hotel and condominium properties. The powerhouse developer is known for its $1-billion, master-planned development of Brickell City Centre and the island of Brickell Key in downtown Miami. The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the publicly listed Swire Properties Limited based in Hong Kong, which is widely recognized for its commitment to sustainable development, featured in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index For more information, visit www.swireproperties.us.