The students at Coconut Grove’s Academy of Arts and Minds high school learn all about the art world, from creating art to finding their own visions.
“It’s about them, it’s about that human fiber, that need to express themselves,” said Mary Abreu, director of the public charter school’s visual arts program.
Expressing themselves through their artwork. It’s what the students do, in class or at a recent exhibit of their work held at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove.
“My passion is marine biology but I also like to show my passion through the arts,” explained student Meagan Butcher, standing next to her painting which depicts dolphins under water.
Her classmate, fellow senior Moni Lola, said, “This kind of opportunity to get out there and present my art, it really feels good.”
Ten students were displaying work at the Ritz-Carlton, paintings inspired by a trip to the Miami Seaquarium.
“I see people coming in and look at my artwork and then talk about it while I eavesdrop,” laughed student Ashley Gutierrez.
Five professional artists from the Coconut Grove Arts Festival spent a day at the Seaquarium with the students, discussing all things art in what amounted to a day of mentoring, and the kids had four days to go from inspiration to completion.
“This is completely different because we’re not in the classroom, we’re talking about how we make art and it’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience for these kids, so I think it’s a great thing,” said artist Jacqueline Roch, who designed the poster for the arts festival in 2009.
From hilariously whimsical, to a more serious, traditional approach, the students created a variety of pieces. The common thread was they all had to be about nature, inspired by what they saw at the Seaquarium.
“To do good art, you need two things,” Abreu said. “You need to have the creative end and you need to have the technical end.”
Judging by what we saw, the students have both ends covered.