Miami’s Jose de Diego Middle School, like many schools in South Florida designed to provide hurricane protection and energy efficiency, has few windows and large expanses of facade almost begging for decoration.
For Catalina Hidalgo, a science teacher at Jose de Diego, those walls were too blank, and that bothered her — especially because the school is on the edge of a neighborhood that’s changing fast. The neighborhood — Wynwood — is an arts district full of street art painted by local and internationally known artists.
“I was tired of looking at white walls,” she says. “I thought it would be a cool idea to bring a few artists to paint this school. It’s crazy that we have white walls and everywhere else is filled with murals.”
Enter Robert de los Rios. He and his friend Patrick Walsh often organize artist events in Wynwood. Hidalgo contacted them, and they visited the school.
“I just saw the greatest canvas I’ve ever seen,” de los Rios says. “Look at the size of these walls, man.”
De los Rios started contacting artists and organized a project to coincide with Miami’s Art Basel fair. He soon had more than 40 painters working on 38 murals.
While the artists worked recently, students gathered around to check out the art going up on their school’s walls. “Now that they came,” said seventh-grader Lisandro Perez, “they made our lives better. It makes us want to come to school.”
More than 40 painters are working on 38 murals at Jose de Diego Middle School. For more, search on Instagram using #JoseDeDiegoMiddleSchool.