Art can sometimes be a solitary endeavor, but not for students of Locust Projects.
Eight years ago, the organization founded by Miami artists Elizabeth Withstandley, Westen Charles and COOPER began a summer program for local high school students to create an artistic project from start to finish.
Called LAB, or Locust Art Builders, the program is open to all high school students in Miami-Dade. The students are responsible for everything, from the idea’s inception to creating the final project, which may include a performance piece, art installations and a gallery exhibition.
“We provide opportunities for them to learn how to network, from how to write an artist statement to how you need to talk to a gallerist, how you need to put a proposal together,” said Monica Lopez De Victoria, an artist and art mentor at LAB. “We work with a budget, so they have to learn to be conscious of their budget. It’s not just about putting art up on the walls; it’s about the whole experience by making it very hands-on.”
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Parents can see the difference the program makes in their children.
“I’ve had parents come up to me and say, ‘Thank you for doing this because I had no idea what my son was doing. When he said he wanted to go into art, I got really scared. Now seeing him at this professional-level exhibition, I get it.’” Victoria said. “It gives me goosebumps that something like this can change the perspective of parents.”
Lino Bernabe, an artist who lives in New York and who graduated from Cooper Union, the art school, is an alumnus of the LAB program.
“It changed my perspective of art-making from an individual process to a collaborative process,” he said. “Locust Projects was the first instance where I learned to work with other artists as a community. In terms of my career, Locust Projects introduced me into the Miami art scene in ways I wouldn’t be able to alone.”
Locust Projects: 305-576-8670 or firstname.lastname@example.org