2022 AM Wings_Mono Negative
Feature

I / AM MIAMI: Charles Caesar

Everywhere we go, we celebrate people, values and shared passions, making our mark on our team, fans, and partners. You. Us. Together. Playing on the creative nature of the team and the Miami art scene, I / AM MIAMI heroes art in every form and the people that create it.

Charles Caesar

Here we speak to Miami-based artist and photographer Charles Caesar about his work, his childhood history in motorsport through the lens of his father who worked as a tyre engineer, and what the arrival of the championship in his city means to him.

Growing up in Florida, I gained a great sense of independence – in Miami, as soon as you're old enough to be out on your own, you're told to go and explore. There's a very laissez-faire attitude to childhood and being a teenager. You've got to put yourself out there.

From an early age, I've been able to explore and understand Miami, which inspired me to create my photography and my art. I love practising photography for storytelling, building narratives or highlighting specific times in my life, creating characters and scenes. To me, everything can be a portrait, not just people.

My photos of landscapes, scenes of the city, and my favourite photo of a mysterious covered car; they are all portraits. The car photo is especially interesting to me: is there something expensive being covered up for prosperity? Or is it something old being hidden? That's what a good portrait is to me.

I also love seeing artwork on a huge scale; there are murals everywhere in Miami. It reminds me that you don't just have to see things on your phone. I like creating an elevated reality; everything is dialled up to 12, showing our world, but enhanced.

Is there something expensive being covered up for prosperity? Or is it something old being hidden? That's what the portrait is.
Charles Caesar
Charles Caesar

One of my main inspirations for making art is my grandfather, Paul Barco. He studied photography in New York City, back in the fifties, and got a degree in the profession. At the time, the world was even less welcoming to Black artists than it is today, so he was blocked from making a proper career out of it.

But he never stopped shooting; he was making work when my mother was born and he captured her whole life on film. I try to carry on that practice and make my own traditions, so I take my camera with me everywhere.

The public art in this city is super important; you don't have to be rich or have specialised access to enjoy it. Regardless of who you are, you can still get amazing exposure to art. It's brought culture to the people.

I think you can live authentically in Miami, as your true self. You won't be judged; people in Miami are too busy enjoying themselves to be judgemental.

Of course, I have to mention my father, Don Caesar, who is a tyre engineer in motorsport. He has been in motorsport for over 30 years and worked on the Porsche team back in 2020 when they raced in the Daytona 24 Hours. My parents are a track couple; they're always going to races together.

I was almost born at a racetrack - my mom had to leave a race to go to the hospital to have me! I have fond memories of the track right from when I was a baby. There are photos of my dad holding me on top of the cars with baby ear defenders on.

The smell of the tyre rubber and petrol, the sounds of the air compressors and jacks rolling on the floor - it's really gorgeous to me.

It's great that so many new fans have joined over the past few years; I encourage people to enjoy it, and to watch the races and the live action. I want to spread the word of waking up at eight o'clock in the morning and tuning into the race with a lot of my friends.

There's so much more than just the race. I tell everyone to watch the qualifying, watch the practices.

I think Formula One coming to Miami will give people here a sense of the actual scale of the race. It's not just one afternoon; it goes on for a week. I can't wait to see how it will transform the city, and how Miami will put the puzzle pieces together to become an F1 city.

Anytime anything big comes to town, like the Art Basel show, Miami is untameable. If there's an event, Miami is going all-in. Having the whole travelling circus come to town is going to be a really broad cultural exchange.

I hope F1 will see the multicultural aspects of Miami and how the city is full of all kinds of different people with different backgrounds. But I also hope people see the sport and want to get involved, maybe they think they want to become an engineer, or get into karting.

Maybe someday we'll see the paddocks look more like the streets of Miami. I'm hoping that F1 absorbs some of the culture of the city and shares its culture with Miami as well.

Thanks to Charles for making his mark: #IAMMIAMI

I / AM MIAMI

Rey Jaffet

I / AM MIAMI

Amaranta Martinez