My name is Daniela Canizares. I am a second-year psychology student at Florida International University. I was born in Cuba but moved to Miami when I was 15 years old.
Rising awareness through the arts: Artist Lauren Shapiro, Bakehouse Art Complex
When people talk or think about Wynwood, the first thing coming to their mind is Wynwood Walls. They never expect to spend the day at an art gallery. That was exactly what happened to me too. Never did I expect to come to Wynwood to an art gallery. Located right across a Middle School and surrounded by apartments, the Bakehouse is contrastingly hidden from the other galleries we would find at Wynwood. People passing by might think it is part of the apartments in the area. However, they do not know what an amazing gallery awaits them behind those doors.
As part of the artists in residence in the bakehouse, we find Lauren Shapiro. Ms. Shapiro graduated from the University of Miami with an MFA. Ms. Shapiro has been across the world with her love for nature and ceramics. These places include China and Brazil. Besides being an artist in residence at the Bakehouse Art Complex, she is also the head of the Ceramics Studio.
Ms. Lauren Shapiro’s exposition consisted of creating a wake-up call on how the coral reefs are dying as part of human activity. Her idea was to make a coral barrier out of clay. With this idea, she wanted to raise awareness in the area by showing people from another perspective how close they are with the underwater nature. Everyone in the community was welcomed to go and mold the clay to, later on, place it on those walls. On October 29th, 2020, Ms. Lauren Shapiro was completing her exposition for the Bakehouse Art complex. On an experience with Ms. Shapiro as part of the Art Society Conflict Class, she informed us of an open opportunity to collaborate and help her as part of her exhibition.
For this collection, Ms. Shapiro wanted the people collaborating to feel a deeper connection with the corals. Instead of her handing the people the coral replicas, she would put all of them on a plastic tray and let people pick the one calling their attention the most. By touching the textures, the corals would tell people a story. Ms. Shapiro wanted to see this mix of emotions and ideas on her final project.
I love arts and science, and this mix made me want to go back and help her. I already had experience working with her as part of my previous visit there, but usually, she would have given you a small background talk about the coral reefs, how they are dying, and what we can do to save them. She would have also taught you how to mold the clays. The project was supposed to start at 3:30 pm, but that day I got there at 4:00 pm. I had missed this initial process. When I got there, I hurried and signed up and gathered all the instruments I needed to help with the final touches. People were working with gloves, however, I wanted to feel the structure of the clay made coral reef, feel that connection between the texture and my hands. Last time I was there with my class I decided to add the color to the clay before starting to mold it. However, I realized it did not look as realistic as I would have wanted it to look. This time around, I decided to give it color by mixing the clay instead. I grabbed clay from different colors and started mixing them all. This technique looked more realistic than with my previous experience. Once the plastic tray was full of samples, it was time to fill out the gaps missing from previous collaborations. Using the “scratch and score” technique, everything was suddenly coming together. I started to see what Ms. Shapiro meant the first time we met. One person could have not made all that by itself. It was a group of minds together that put the artwork into one piece. Every coral had its authenticity. None were the same. It was something amusing.
Before volunteering in this project, I had some sort of reference about the environment dying. However, after being part of it, my eyes opened to a new perspective. Never did I expect coral reefs to be this important to the sustainability of the ecosystem, and actions taken by humans could be restricted to preserve our lives and theirs. What I liked the most was the style of the project. Collaborative projects always surprise me because you can only expect the results up to a certain extent, but it is usually something unexpected. Something that did not work out in my opinion, was experiencing first with color, just to find out it looked unrealistic once we already had a couple of clay replicas done. This collaborative project also made me get to know people from different backgrounds. It was amazing to see people coming from Down South to collaborate because they liked the idea of raising awareness for the corals. Usually, people see distance as an impediment, however, seeing these people there made me realize this problem is bigger than I thought. It was an eye-opening experience to how society is divided into two kinds of people: the ones that take action, and the ones who sit and wait to see what happens.
Total Hours: 4 hours
Shapiro, Lauren. “CV/Contact.” Lauren Shapiro, laurenshapiroart.com/cv/contact.
Lil Abners’ Foundation
Lil Abners’ Foundation is a non-profit organization located in the city of Sweetwater, Miami. It mainly focuses on helping the kids from the community. The City of Sweetwater has a considerable number of low-income families and this organization focus on being an escape from the reality these kids have at home. They offer help with tutoring as well as dance, taekwondo, and archery classes.
I chose to volunteer with this organization because it is something related to what I have been doing for most of my life and somehow relates to what I want to do in the future. I went to Lil Abner’s Foundation to help with their dance programs. In my Junior Year of High School, I decided to stop dancing to start focusing on my academics, and seeing this opportunity in front of my eyes was the perfect opportunity to go back to it. It does not relate directly to my major right now. however, in the future, I want to be a school psychologist, so working with kids would give me eyesight of what might be working with them in a school environment.
I found out about this opportunity through the emails the Honors College sends to the students. When I saw it, I sent Mr. Paco Ruiz an email asking about the opportunity, He called me, and the week after I went to help with the kids. The first time I went was not as fun because parents were still skeptical about COVID and sending the kids back to the classes. We warmed up and did some acrobatics. To my surprise, the next time I went, there were more than six girls. It was a fun time that day. We warmed up, worked on some turning techniques, and worked on flexibility and acrobatics. We almost did not have time to go through all the programs because the leading teacher wanted to assist one by one and help them as much as possible. She thanked me for going that day because she did not expect that many girls either and she said she could have not gone by all that by herself that day.
Working on this project was special for me because it brought me close to my past but also gave me eyesight of how my future could be. Because of my experience the first time, I did not think of coming back. There were few kids and the class became boring at some point. However, I am happy I decided to go a second time. Seeing the kids learning new dance techniques reminded me of when I was their age.
Total Hours: 4 hours
Art for the feet: artist Edelin Jaime
Edelin Jaime is an independent artist. She is from Cuba but is currently living in Miami. For her art work she takes inspiration in the smallest, most common things around her and turns it into art. That was the case for her work decorating shoes.
At the beginning of the month, I saw a picture of one of Ms. Jaime’s art work and immediately contacted her to help her. This time, Ms. Jaime took either white or black shoes and turned it into walking art. This opportunity did not relate to my major. However, when I saw it, it automatically caught my attention. It was not a regular art work at a studio. It was more like a broad idea and letting your imagination flow.
On December 5th 2020, we got together and worked on these shoes’ decoration. We met at a park nearby Cutler Bay. She brought three pairs of old, either white or black shoes with her, and then we started working on it. In two hours, we put our mind on it and walked out of that park not only having a masterpiece like no one else’s, but also having unique shoes.
Working with her was an experience like never before. When I thought about art, I always thought about painting in white canvas, never in white shoes. This opportunity opened my eyes to realize that art can be anywhere you look at.
Total Hours: 2 hours
Art Service Project Total Hours: 10 hours