Once again, artworks by students at Southwood Middle School were featured along with adult art during the annual showcase of the Bromeliad Society, a special weekend event at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden in Coral Gables.
The event, in mid-April each year, exhibits the work of approximately 150 talented young students in the Magnet Art Program. The paintings are displayed alongside rare bromeliad plants and are viewed by many visitors to Fairchild, according to Jenifer Berse, magnet art teacher at Southwood.
“I am yet again absolutely blown away by the Bromeliad Society Magnet Art Exhibit,” Berse said. “Although I see the students as they are the working on their bromeliad art in just about every media imaginable, to see the collective exhibit of every sixth, seventh, and eighth grade student never fails to fill me with great pride, and excitement.
“The partnership we have with the Bromeliad Society of Florida and Sharon Biddix-Maessen has been a wonderful learning opportunity for our students,” Berse added. “They are able to gain an appreciation for the many species of the beautiful Bromeliad, and explore that beauty through their art skills.”
Sharon Biddix-Maessen is a retired art teacher and a member of the Bromeliad Society who has served as a liaison to the students. She was the person responsible for bringing student art into the annual exhibition in the first place because of her teaching background.
The Bromeliad Society provides live bromeliads for the classrooms which allow the students to study the structure of the plants and visualize them three-dimensionally, rather than just by looking at photos. Works are created by students in the program using a variety of media, including watercolor, tempera, acrylic, pastels and colored pencil.
Leslie McKinley, another Southwood magnet art teacher, is involved in the annual project and stressed the importance of the link between the students, the Bromeliad Society and Fairchild.
“Having artwork displayed in such a renowned venue as Fairchild Garden forges strong connections between the students, their families, and the community,” McKinley said. “Those who have not actually experienced the beauty of Fairchild, come to recognize its value to our area. Students gain insight into the importance of our ecosystem in South Florida and knowledge and appreciation for the beauty that surrounds them every day.”
The school’s principal, Magda R. Pereira, said she was pleased by the students’ paintings and their continued participation.
“As the principal of Southwood Middle School, I am proud to see our superstars showcase their artistic skills in the annual Bromeliad Show at Fairchild Gardens,” Pereira said. “It’s incredible to see such amazing talent, at such a young age.”