Magnus Sodamin: Wild altars and nature as church


Herons morph into giant Saints. Dense arched jungles hide birds, flowers, and palms in patches of sunlight.

Magnus Sodamin has been making wild nature art around South Florida for years, with innovative shows of black light paintings that changed with timed lighting and painting every wall, floor, and ceiling. The result was completely immersive.

His melting flowers in rainbow rain covered entire blocks of Wynwood engulfing a Diner and a mall, and a new series called “Wild Altars” embodies what he calls nature as church. In downtown Miami, a new altar mural called Florida Wildlife Corridor depicts the artist’s vision of flora in an urban jungle.

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On the side of a brick building that formally held a huge smiling orange head by Atomik – another Miami artist who gets around – the 11-story mural highlights the need to protect our state’s last wild places.

Filled with mangroves and iguanas and black Anhinga, sawgrass and palm forests, and lush landscapes, all are under assault by development. The importance of preserving green spaces for the future has never been more evident. Sodamins’s mural in a concrete jungle setting drives home the need for preservation.

He says, “Nature is my church. Anywhere in the world and whenever I enter, I know that they are not my space.”

Visuals of Magnus at MIA AIRPORT
Visuals of Magnus at MIA AIRPORT

Born in Manhattan, Sodamin is a long-time Miami resident, having received his BFA in painting from the New World School of the Arts, Miami. He then spent a year painting at the Nansenskolen (Nansen Academy) in Lillehammer, Norway, a humanitarian institute that focuses on cross-cultural exchange.

He spends a great deal of time outdoors. His Instagram is filled with art and fishing, his other passion. However, he is no Guy Harvey when it comes to his subject matter. His interest lies more in birds, panthers, and trees.

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He spent a year-long residency at the Deering Estate and a period of research at the Artist in Residency in Everglades (AIRIE) program. Out of that came a large body of work focusing on the gardens and glades of Florida.

A show at Dot Fifty One Gallery found the space turned into a kaleidoscopic place of worship, with large scale arched paintings that resemble stained glass windows, and a new series of slightly bizarre tufted tapestry sculptures that turn birds into deities, demi-gods of the glades.

The layers were so dense that one was drawn into the pink and green world. The paintings were based on preparatory drawings Sodamin made both in the wild and from photographs taken during his frequent visits to remote locations in the Florida landscape. He creates a radically different kind of language, a living zone between abstraction and landscape.

Nature bats last and deserves such praise.

“For humans, art has developed into a language of how we see and want to experience the world. Through our senses, we find inspiration- which leads to discovery. It is in our nature to be captivated and in awe of something larger than us,” he explains.

A recent weekend in February found him painting a skateboard park ramp at Skatebird Miami with kids. He taught them to beautify something that will become a joyous place of activity and community.

Follow him on Instagram: @magnificentmagnus

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