Locals to know: Meet Christina Pettersson, local artist and self-proclaimed Everglades Witch

Christina Pettersson

Tell us about your work — your job and/or any volunteer work. 

I grew up in Miami and have spent a lifetime exploring and researching the (often dark) human history of Florida and the Deep South at large — especially the Everglades that I love so much. My art practice focuses on how human history and natural history are intertwined, and how one can often represent the other.

I realized years ago that I could not communicate these narratives with a traditional gallery practice. I had to take the work out of the studio and back into the landscape that inspired me. Now, I frequently work together and volunteer with like-minded people and organizations outside the art world to reach a broader audience. Through residencies, collaborations and partnerships, I have launched exhibitions and events at Everglades National Park Visitor Center, the historic Deering Estate and Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Biscayne Nature Center and even the Miami Book Fair. Currently, through an ARTSail nomadic research-based residency and Friends of the Everglades, we are creating an illustrated book of urgent water issues in South Florida. Finally, with an Art in Public Places commission, I will be installing a memorial medicine garden in Kendall, honoring a charity hospital that once existed.


What’s your favorite Miami memory? 

Oh man, I really miss those Halloween parties at Vizcaya.  The pure magic of being in that glittering Oz at night, wandering the gardens with James Deering look-alikes and Marie Antoinettes is unforgettable.  It reminds me how grateful I am to have been here in the earlier, underground days of Miami’s art scene, when more of us could afford the real estate to have backyard shindigs, garden performances, pool parties and impromptu gatherings.  I lived in my own tiny Oz, a limestone pool cottage in Belle Meade that will always be my most memorable and happy Miami residence.  We had so many wild events with our community there.


Pick a favorite local outdoor experience. What is it? What’re we doing? Who’s going with ya?  

Camping, camping, camping. Being outside at night with a partner in crime always restores my witchy heart. The more remote, the better, so I’m afraid I can’t share my secret locations. My long term dream is to get some big art grant and buy a vintage RV outfitted with a darkroom to process large format daguerreotype plates. I’d travel around the South for a year photographing cemeteries and burial sites.


If you could eat only one meal from a local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

‘Prison tacos!’ It’s technically a taco truck across from the Homestead Correctional Institution called Los Potosinos Taqueria, and it’s the very last food stop before you arrive at the gate to Everglades National Park. Naturally it’s my favorite, because it means I’m either on my way to or just came from a great visit to my park, but it’s also the perfect place to eat super tasty Mexican food surrounded by agricultural fields. The tortillas are homemade and so fresh.


What’s your favorite local Instagram or TikTok account and why? 

I love all the great accounts focused on Florida history now. As someone who also spends a significant amount of time on research, I appreciate how much dedication goes into them.  @floridafolkhistory is a long time favorite. I have learned so much from her incredible collection of posts, and more recently @blackmiamidade is a wonderful project by Nadege Green documenting and celebrating vital Miami history.


What’s a project you’re working on (big or small) and how can our readers help you with it?

The Underline, alongside Fountainhead Arts, is providing artists with an outdoor canvas to share their creativity with residents and visitors. I’m thrilled to have been chosen to create a one day art activation there. You can register to attend the April 16th performance of “At the Mouth of the Miami River,” a historical South Florida adaptation of a tableau vivant performance and plein air drawing session. It brings to life local historic characters and flora and fauna at The Underline’s Brickell Backyard River Room. If you haven’t visited the beautiful new Underline yet, this is the perfect opportunity to bring the whole family for a multitude of activities. They’ll even be a tintype old Florida photo booth with an alligator.  You can register for the event here.


What are you looking forward to this year?

A two month residency in Brittany, France this summer!  Every year the Miami art scene goes to Europe, and I’m stuck at home sweating. After being delayed for two years due to COVID, I’m finally going to be one of the fortunate ones in France. So much of managing my art career is administrative now, so two months to just draw the landscape and eat French cheese is a dream.

That’s it for today’s spotlight on a local worth knowing. Know someone who ought to be featured or would like to be featured yourself? Reach out by sending an email to [email protected] with the subject line “TNT Locals to Know 2022.” If chosen, you might just see yourself or a friend in a future newsletter.