Launching of the Art in Public Places' PATH
(Public Art Transforming Housing), a collaborative project with Miami-Dade
Housing Department and the Miami-Dade Police Department aimed at eliminating drugs in nine
public housing sites. Dedication Ceremony and Kick-off Celebration: Youth from
Wynwood working with artist Xavier Cortada unveil their PATH projects as
they unveil the grand opening of their new space, the Castle and kick off a year of PATH.
July 28, 1999, 4 pm, at 225 NW 35th Street, Wynwood, Miami, FL
Click below to
see Miami Herald articles:
||Home is where the art is--Kids from public housing draw
on experiences, By Gigi Barnett--Published on Sunday, August 1, 1999, in The
||Works of Art,
by Damali Charles, The Miami Herald, Wednesday, September 8, 1999.
||Carving mural brings kids, artist
together (in the PATH program), by Tanya Wragg, The Miami Herald, Miami, FL,
December 19, 1999.
Xavier Cortada's report on the Wynwood PATH
I would like to briefly
summarize the activities I engaged in the implementation of the Wynwood PATH program.
The first session began with an introduction of the
artist and an overview of the program. It was followed by a slide presentation, where I
showed the youth other collaborative art projects I had engaged in throughout the years..
This included work I had facilitated in places like Geneva (AIDS mural) and Philadelphia
(Anti-violence mural) to the Art in Public Places mural in Naranja's public housing site.
Later, the kids were asked to draw a self-portrait and write a brief comment about
The sessions proceeded with youth sketching
pictures of themselves and their community. Each was given a sketchpad notebook and
coloring sets. They drew some pictures of how they would like to see some areas of their
neighborhood be transformed. They focused on garbage, drug/crack houses, and areas that
needed to be beautified. They also did some self-portraits about their favorite things.
During other sessions, the youth used acrylic paint
to transform some aprons they were given into works of art. The aprons were all based on
the theme of houses and housing. Some even used paint to decorate their painter's caps.
One afternoon, the group went around the housing site to look for discarded material. They
brought pieces of a stove and other found objects into our makeshift studio and used paint
to transform them into flowers, and abstract art pieces.
During several sessions, youth were asked to read
through newspapers and magazines looking for images. They were broken into teams and asked
to develop a story based on the pictures they had selected. Back and forth they would
brainstorm and exchange ideas before creating the story and sharing it with the rest of
Before and after these sessions the youth were
engaged in educational discussions focused on prevention activity. In a participant-driven
and free-flowing format, the topics generally addressed the following issues: self-esteem
building, learning how to communicate and resolve conflicts, consequences of drug use and
abuse, topics on gangs and violence, and discussions on neighborhood pride, listening to
parents, choosing the right peers, and excelling in school. The youth were even taught
about the concept of risk factors and protective factors, demonstrating how the very
activities we engaged in protected them from anti-social activity.
One afternoon, elderly from the public housing site
were invited to share their life of experiences with the kids. They asked questions on
everything from immigration to civil rights. The elderly shared, talking about the pivotal
points in their lives and imparting advice on the youth. Other speakers included Officer
Lopez, who organized the youth as a Crime Prevention group and worked with housing staff
to establish the Castle, a drop-in site for the youth.
In determining what our final project was going to
be, we brought together all the interactive concepts, pro-social lessons and artistic
techniques learned. Each child would make a personalized shield-- one that showed how
being involved with the castle would shield or protect them from anti-social activity.
These were created with paint on canvas board and mounted on plexy-glass box frames. The
group also contributed personal sketches that were collaged into a round canvas, depicting
how the group activities protected them collectively. Likewise, they created a triptych of
collaged sketches and messages on canvas--some included transcripts of the very words the
elderly had spoken.
The art pieces were unveiled at a dedication
ceremony for "The Castle". The youth marched into the building holding up their
individual and collective shields and mounting them on the Castle walls. Sealed behind
matte medium, the words and drawings created during Summer 1999 would permanently hang
there as art pieces, serving as conspicuous reminders of all the lessons learned.