Vik Muniz Builds Favela Art School for Brazilian Children

Brazilian artist Vik Muniz is seen with his work made of trash, portraying the sugar loaf in Rio de Janeiro. Courtesy Getty Images.

Brazilian artist and photographer Vik Muniz is launching an art and technology school in Rio de Janeiro, located in one of the city’s favelas, or hillside slums, reports the Art Newspaper. The artist is partnering with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop the program.

This is not Muniz’s first foray into inner city education for Brazilian children. In 2006, he founded the Centro Espacial Vik Muniz, an art institute within the school Galpão Aplauso, which 400 students from Rio’s favelas attend each year.

The program is specially designed to suit the needs of Rio’s young people. “Their reality is very different than that of the regular art student,” Muniz explained in an interview with DB Artmag. “They want a profession, a job, and for them to have something to show an employer is important.”

Now, he is bringing arts education directly to the poor neighborhood of Vidigal, funding the construction of Escola do Vidigala, which will provide free classes for local children ages five through eight. “We want to prepare kids to live and exist in a very visually challenging environment and to be able to act as producers as well as consumers,” he said in an interview with TAN.

Muniz is serious about his commitment to improving arts education in his native country. “There’s a saying,” he told DB Artmag. “‘Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.’ I think that’s faulty. Teaching not only makes you organize your ideas so that you can pass them on to others, but students bring an energy that you can’t often feel in the art world.”

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