Five Questions for Meme Ferré
Artist and Key Biscayne resident Meme Ferré, 56, has lived all over the world but grew up just around the corner. Her childhood home was a private residence that has since been transformed by developer Ugo Columbo into the clubhouse for the 51-story Santa Maria condominiums on Brickell Avenue. She graduated from Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, and has studied her craft in India, Paris and London, and has an undergraduate degree from Pratt Institute and a graduate degree from New York University. These days, as her three children and three step children — ranging from age 28 to age 36 — are grown, Ferré teaches art at North Beach Elementary School and also works from her studio Casa Coqui Miami in the Wynwood Art District. We caught up with her to talk about creating a beautiful life.
Tell us about teaching at North Beach Elementary.
My background is private school but I am a public school advocate. We have to support the public schools. Everyone deserves a good education. I did not get into administration because I want to be hands on with the students. If you don’t start them at a young age you’ll lose them. I’ve taught about 10,000 students in the last 20 years and I love that community. They’re incredibly supportive of my work.
How did you learn your craft?
Growing up, there was always a passion for the arts in my home. I had private art teachers at a young age and we had an art historian who lived with us. I started painting as a toddler, but my earliest memories were mixing paints for my grandfather. At 9 years old I went to Spain and traveled throughout the country, studying Spanish art. At age 12, I went to England, and this was in addition to my academic work. Eventually, I went to Pratt Institute for undergraduate and NYU for graduate school.
And how would you describe the art you create in your Wynwood studio?
I’m a painter, an abstract artist. Sometimes I might say abstract expressionist style. But I’ve also worked in the 1980s at major events. For example I was the artistic director for the opening and closing parties of Miami Film Festival. Also back then I was interested in a lot of the performance art we saw in Venice, Italy and Ibiza Spain – so we’d do wild banners and instillations.
What do you do to relax here on Key Biscayne?
My No. 1 favorite organization is the Biscayne Nature Center. I knew its founder Marjory Stoneman Douglas as a child – she was friendly with the art historian we traveled with in London — and when I’m there, working with children, it’s another type of experience. I don’t want them to paint a sea grape, I want them to think about how they’re going to protect the sea grape. I want deeper thinking. But also I love walking down the beach to the lighthouse. My boyfriend is a runner and he does all the races, my brother lives here we go to the sandbar.
Favorite place to eat and relax on Key Biscayne?
I like to go the Lighthouse Café, where I order the smoothies and the fresh fish.