$14K put into magnet program art project

Northwestern High School students work on mural and gallery

Chloe Herring | 6/5/2014, 9 a.m.
A mural goes unnoticed, tucked away on a short, empty hallway at Miami Northwestern Senior High School. It's colorful and ...

A mural goes unnoticed, tucked away on a short, empty hallway at Miami Northwestern Senior High School. Students may not even know that on that hallway an art gallery exists, but for one art student the seclusion is perfect.

“This is a quiet place I can express myself and not be judged. It gave me a place to call home - a sanctuary,” said Garfield Joseph, a junior and manager of the new art gallery on which students are working hard.

The art gallery, called the Performing and Visual Arts Center (PAVAC) Bullseye Art Gallery, and the mural, which students named Artway, are two items in a $14,000 project in a program two years in the making and incepted by an idea art teacher Ruth Admire had four years ago.

Admire said she had several things in mind when she prepared a written proposal years ago. She imagined a space where students could see professional artists at work. She also wanted to create a connection to the community through art.

She got both.

A construction company came into the high school to build the walls of the gallery. Art studios outfitted with chairs and desks for art creation were donated and local artists mentored her students.  A mural was painted right before their eyes by Luis Valle

And then work on the mural began. Admire worked closely with students who teamed up with Edward Rawson of the Moving the Lives of Kids Community Mural Project, an art foundation that orchestrated the painting of bus stops in Liberty City.

“Liberty City is one of those neighborhoods in Miami that just lacks resources. The kids deserve to access to the arts,” said Rawson, adding that some kids have the privilege of being surrounded by art. “Living here, if you look outside your window you don’t see it.”

But the art magnet students at Northwestern are committed to injecting art into their community.

They worked tirelessly, adding color, shapes and figures to the walls in the hall.

They spent time after school planning the mural and critiquing each other’s artwork for the gallery.

The mural was inspired by the Good Wall on 8th St in Little Havana with the themes art history, natural history and historical events. Only about 25 percent full, the mural leaves space for students’ additions for the next three to four years, making it what Admire called “a living piece.”

Admire said the project was bigger than paint, a wall and some paintbrushes. For her, it was about providing a creative space for her students and drawing support from the neighborhood.

“The idea is that it is a handshake between the students and the community,” she said.

She hopes the students’ passion for art grows and is infectious to all who visit.

Joseph, who one day wants to work in animation, said he puts his soul into his art and in return art has given his life purpose.

“Art is everything. Without having art at all, the world would be missing a chunk of everything.”