DFACE and Other Street Art Stars Transform Destitute Miami School

Famed public murals and art galleries surround the Jose de Diego Middle School (JDD) in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, and though the area is experiencing a cultural revival, government cuts have left the school without an arts program. But defiant principal Dr. April Thompson-Williams set out to change that, the Huffington Post reports.

Despite Wynwood’s burgeoning art scene, poverty and gang violence remain a reality for many of its residents. Ninety-six per cent of students at JDD live below the poverty line.

Determined to offer her students some positive reinforcement, Dr. Thompson-Williams succeeded in convincing the superintendent to hire an art teacher.

Before the artists transformed the school, students likened it to "a prison" Photo: Florent Garcia via Huffington Post

Before the artists transformed the school, students likened it to “a prison.”
Photo: Florent Garcia via Huffington Post.

She also approached two local arts groups, Wynwood Arts District Association (WADA), and WynwoodMap.com. They offered to commission 73 international street art stars including DFACE, MTO, and David “Lebo” Le Batard to transform the bleak school building, likened by students to “a prison,” into a colorful canvas.

Rodney Royal, one of the participating artists said, “It was important for me to show the kids who have an artistic skill […] that you can be an artist. You can be creative. You don’t have to make it out with sports.”

The art groups also helped the school launched a fundraiser named RAW Project to kickstart the school’s art program.

In the US, six million students receive no arts education, and 60 percent of American schools have seen their arts programs defunded.

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