Spilling from the art room at Cutler Bay High School (CBHS), one can feel the walls speaking.
The brainchild of artist and teacher Frederic Gabriel, Cutler Bay’s “Bay Walls” is a very unique project in which students in teams of four or five reproduce classical artwork in the form of floor to ceiling murals.
Through his bout with cancer in 2016 Gabriel continued to continue to create these long-lasting murals. This display of some incredible, dynamic student-generated murals invigorates the space of the school and is definitely a fundamental form of arts advocacy.
Gabriel was born in Paris, France, and completed his undergraduate studies at Syracuse University. His mission as an art teacher/artist at CBHS is to promote open mindedness and truth in communication through the arts. Art provides students with alternative means of expression through the exploration of their own emotional make up.
“It is my task to allow this process to take place, therefore providing a richer, fuller life experience for all students,” Gabriel said.
Since 2016, Gabriel and his students have been transforming the walls of the school, adorning them with almost 60 murals to date. These murals represent numerous countries, artists, and historical time periods. These murals not only have contributed to the beautification of the school, but to the unification of its students.
Gabriel, who has been teaching art for nearly 20 years, stated that “the pieces help students explore global perspective, while exploring and embracing cultural diversity.” He believes that even in a climate of overwhelming violence and cultural separation, the act of participation in the construction of art murals helps bring students together. As the students work, they discover meaningful potential of teamwork, resulting in the production of pieces far superior than the sum of their individual efforts.
The concept is not only to teach the skill of painting and drawing, it is to allow students to actively participate in the construction of art while exploring the deeper meaning behind each piece. The Bay Walls are not just decorating the school, they are facilitating a shift in thinking away from isolation towards global conversation.