The Honors College is joining forces with developer Alex Mantecon, an FIU Honors alumnus and member of its Community Advisory Board, to bring a unique and creative beautification project to the downtown Miami area.
Each semester, students in Inhabiting Other Lives, a second-year Honors College course taught by professors Gretchen Scharnagl and Ruben Garrote, research and explore the Miami River and its surrounding areas.
Students are then asked to artistically display the data they’ve collected through the use of maps, symbols, and other non-traditional methods, a contemporary technique known as art-mapping.
This year, students are collaborating on a very different and large-scale project. Mantecon, alongside Guillermo Vadell, both partners at MV Real Estate Holdings LLC, approached the Honors College with a challenging project – a 30-foot high by 20-foot wide mural that will be displayed on the façade of a new building he is constructing along the Miami River.
To help give the Honors students a closer look at the Miami River and its neighboring parts, Mantecon chartered a river cruise for the class, creating an open dialogue between the students while giving them insight into the history of the region.
The students, most of whom have little to no background in art, split into groups to competitively design the mural.
A panel of judges comprised of city officials, developers, Professor Scharnagl, and other community artists, chose the winning design which was unveiled at a reception in the Graham Center Gallery last week.
Students of the winning art piece chose patterns that symbolize the historic roots of the river and how it has transitioned with the emergence of human presence.
Mantecon and Vadell will be contributing a scholarship to the Honors College as part of the collaboration. The building is expected to be completed in early 2015.