Local artist, students create `master peace'
By LOURDES MOLINA
--Published on Sunday, May 23, 1999, in The Miami Herald
The kids at Coral Way Elementary are finding that
the key to the future lies in the past.
The 20 or so second-graders are part of a pilot program
called Master Peace, aimed at showing youngsters how to communicate their ideas through
Coral Way and three other elementary schools -- Palmetto,
Richmond and Key Biscayne -- have teamed kids with local artist Xavier Cortada to identify
and discuss social issues that will inspire artwork.
Coral Way's project is ``Exploring Community Through
The students are talking to their parents and grandparents
about childhood memories, looking for common threads.
``Each of you has memories of your childhood that your
parents had in their childhood,'' Cortada explained to the students Thursday. ``What that
means is that you're not much different from them.''
Part of this school's project is to create a ``dual
picture.'' This is where half of the drawing is about a parent's memory and the other half
depicts how students can relate that memory to their own lives.
For example, a student of Italian descent drew a portrait
of himself in front of his school; the other half of the drawing shows his dad as a
schoolboy in front of the Tower of Pisa.
``The project is about the memories, it's about the
history of my dad and mom, and it's about art, too,'' said 8-year-old student Jorge
``Their parents' memories are theirs too,'' said Gloria
Knowles, an art teacher at Coral Way, 1950 SW 13th Ave.
Cortada visits the students several times throughout the
Master Peace session and incorporates other concepts, such as geography and history, into
the discussion and the art the students make.
``The important message is that it's second-graders in the
class teaching the rest of the school, not Xavier Cortada teaching the second-graders,''
The completed artwork will be exhibited in a virtual
gallery and the originals will be combined into an 8-foot by 10-foot collage-mural that
Cortada will create to be displayed at the school.
Two cameras will film Cortada as he creates the collage
from the students' original artwork in his studio and cybercast it. Throughout the school,
students will be watching the project on the televisions and chatting on the Internet with
``This project focuses more on the Internet rather
traditional painting,'' said Cortada. ``The individual drawings will exist only in
In addition to the gallery, the web site will include a
Discussion Forum -- a collection of the stories and memories the students wrote to explain
``The Internet is a new medium for art,'' Cortada said.
``It is used to open up their minds.''
Eight schools have completed art projects through the
Master Peace Program, which was initiated at the beginning of the school year.
In addition to Coral Way, three other schools will have
completed projects by June 4.
Palmetto is working on ``School Pride;'' Key Biscayne
Community School is doing ``Keep Key Biscayne Beautiful'' and Richmond students are
focusing on animals and the environment.
``Art is the universal language, it can transcend any
barrier,'' Cortada said.