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Art Intensive Virtual Sessions: July 6-July 29, 2021 LAB exhibition on view: July 30-August 7, 2021

LOCUST ART BUILDERS 2021 Starting July 6, 2021, 30 teens from 18 schools across the greater Miami area met virtually for the 11th year of Locust Art Builders Summer Art Intensive. The diverse and ambitious group of aspiring young artists worked on fast paced art challenges, learned from an array of artist mentors about creative careers, and collaborated on building an exhibition and designing a zine.

This year’s program implemented a hybrid model with online classes and optional in-person activities to ensure the safety of students, staff, and guests during the pandemic. The program start date was shifted from June 21 to July 6 to accommodate more students and ensure that all eligible applicants had enough time to submit their applications while they navigated their ever-changing schedules impacted by the pandemic. Sessions took place from July 6-29, Tuesdays-Thursdays, 2-4pm, with an optional in-person field trip to the Museum of Graffiti, Locust Projects, and ICA on July 14 and an optional in-person installation day on July 29. Founding LAB Director Monica Lopez de Victoria and intern Ava Luna Santiesteban, a 2020 LAB alum, guided students through the creative and logistical aspects of building a collaborative exhibition, as well as a digital and printed zine. Students experimented with a range of media, many for the first time. In addition to artmaking, the program included group discussion as students got to know each other, their perspectives, their strengths, and brainstormed ideas for their final project. Students took the lead in conceptualizing and building the exhibition, designing all digital and print materials, budgeting expenses, drafting their artist pages, video interviews, and more. Each students’ varied skill sets, experience levels, and individual backgrounds contributed to the creation of their final exhibition: Network Not Found, and a student-produced zine available online at

STUDENT PRE-ASSESSMENT SURVEY Pre-assessment surveys were administered during the first week of the program to gauge the students’ experience with artmaking, skills, interests, personality traits, and their expectations about LAB and what they hoped to achieve, enabling us to adjust the program to meet each student’s individual needs. This year’s surveys showed students had an overwhelming interest in learning from--and being challenged by--their peers as well as professional artists, expanding their imagination and creative thinking, exploring new mediums, developing their communication skills, working with others, learning about careers in the art world, and making new work.

STUDENT PRE-ASSESSMENT SURVEY QUOTES “I hope to be able to branch out of my comfort zone and learn how to express myself in new ways.” “I hope I can get a feel for what a career of art would be. Another thing I would love to experience would be the sharing of works from different teammates. I think it would be so cool and very inspiring to see ideas from others or get advice on my own work on how to improve it.” “I want to gain more experience creating art outside of school assignments and I hope I can make some friends because I didn’t really get the chance to last year.” “I hope to be able to open up and be able to better communicate and work with others since I tend to be shy when it comes to interacting.” “I am interested in developing my cooperative skills as a leader through being around the presence of other leaders in the form of a creative summer program, furthering my horizons of what art can and does mean to other professional and non-professional artists would also be invaluable experience I would be dismayed to miss out on, and developing my own talents while around the presence of new faces will also be an ideal experience for seeing my art in a new light and moving towards a possibly clearer art-driven direction.” “I hope to learn from experiences professional artists might have had out in the art world. I also hope to meet and learn from artists my age.”

PROGRAM AND IMPLEMENTATION Locust Projects strives to keep the LAB experience intimate so that we can focus on each student’s individual needs and creative growth. Survey responses and feedback from the 2020 LAB program showed a demand for arts programs that maintain connections for students with their peers during a time when many are isolated from their friends, teachers, and family. Locust Projects expanded its capacity in the 2021 program to 30 students in order to better fulfill this need and reach more teens. This year had a record number of applicants, and in the selection process, it was important to assemble a diverse group of 30 students representing different backgrounds, perspectives, schools, grades, experience levels, artistic styles, preferred mediums, and more. Students who had less experience or access to professional art training were able to work with students whose skills were more developed, allowing students across the entire spectrum to learn from each other, encourage each other, challenge each other, and ultimately create something together. This year’s LAB program included students from: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Miami Beach Senior High School G. Holmes Braddock Senior High School Coral Reef High School Coral Way K-8 Center DASH - Design & Architecture Senior High Hialeah Senior High School Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School Miami Arts Charter School Jose Martí MAST 6-12 Academy Miami Springs Senior High School Miramar High School New World School of the Arts Miami Palmetto Senior High School SAS - School for Advanced Studies North Campus South Miami Senior High School Miami Sunset Senior High School TERRA Environmental Research Institute

Each year, the largest challenge faced by Locust Art Builders is offering an impactful and accessible experience that meets the individual needs of that particular year’s students, a challenge made more steep when students are affected by the continuing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. After the success of the 2020 virtual edition of LAB, Locust Projects was able to expand upon the most well-received aspects of the program in order to present an even more impactful experience and expanded opportunities to the 2021 cohort. Program participation included the following:

FULL SCHOLARSHIPS AND ARTIST HONORARIA • Each student received an honoraria to be used at their discretion, ensuring that all students could purchase devices to participate online and providing some relief for those who may need to reduce their hours at part time jobs in order to join LAB. Like last year, this financial support was essential for many of the students to fully experience the program.

BUILDER BOX Each student was hand-delivered a Builder Box with the following: • ARTEZA art supplies for exploring their creativity and completing art challenges • Pair of VANS canvas shoes which each student customized with their own design • Special edition t-shirt designed by local artist Kelly Breez • Locust Projects’ Publication: The 20th Anniversary Retrospective

TRAVEL STIPENDS • All students were invited to request travel stipends if they needed transportation to attend either the optional field trip day or installation day and were provided Uber codes for free rides or reimbursed for travel expenses.

Founding LAB Director Monica Lopez de Victoria and intern Ava Luna Santiesteban, a 2020 LAB alum, guided students through the creative and logistical aspects of building a collaborative exhibition, as well as a digital and printed zine. Students experimented with a range of media, many new to them. In addition to artmaking, the program included group discussion as students conceptualized their ideas behind their exhibition. Students took the lead in writing their artist statements, designing all digital and print materials, promoting the exhibition via social media, and budgeting expenses. In addition to the classes held on Zoom, students collaborated after hours on Discord, a virtual platform recommended by this year’s cohort, so they could create different channels for each topic like art challenges or brainstorming, group chat via text as well as voice, share images of their work or inspiration, organize their ideas and materials, and more.




GUEST SPEAKERS Artists, curators, and other arts professionals led virtual workshops, offering mentorship by sharing personal experiences in their creative professions. Speakers and workshops during the 2021 LAB program included: • • • • •

Kelly Breez, local artist and Locust Projects 2017 alum Daygee Kwia, Managing Partner of Half Full Creative and part of the collaborative music duo Paperwater Octavia Yearwood, author, motivational speaker, and arts educator Dale Zine, independent book and zine shop Jen Stark, Los Angeles-based artist and Locust Projects 2007 alum.

FIELD TRIP Halfway through the program, students participated in an optional field trip to the Museum of Graffiti in Wynwood for a museum tour, an outdoor mural tour, and a graffiti drawing class. They had lunch at Locust Projects followed by a tour of three exhibitions: Homeline by visiting artists Tal Amitai-Lavi and Tal Frank, Rhythm of Speech by local artist Juan Ledesma; and Hidden in Plain View by LAB: MFA artist-in-residence Victoria Ravelo. The day ended at ICA where the students split up into two groups and were guided through various collections with the opportunity to ask questions.

CONNECTING WITH OUR COMMUNITY We placed sixteen 30-second PSAs for LAB with WLRN. Ads ran from May 31 - June 11, 2021 with four ads per week between the hours of 5am8pm. More than 335,000 listeners tune into WLRN between these hours each week.

Eight LAB-related Instagram posts had more than 11,300 impressions and were visible to over 13,800 followers.

Seven LAB-related Facebook posts had over 2,050 impressions and were visible to over 6,400 followers.

Two eNewsletters highlighting the LAB program and two dedicated eNewsletters were sent to our database of 13,454 emails from local, national, and international visitors.

“Fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in LAB 2 years in a row! Wish all new participants a safe and creative adventure” — Michael Scott Vega, @sock.official on Instagram “I love this program!” — Cathy Leff, @culturedaytripping on Instagram

“Awesome to know that [this program] is still going on!” — Omar Alvarez on Facebook

LAB MENTOR MEET + GREET JULY 27, 2021 LAB’s annual Mentor Breakfast was again adapted to a virtual Meet + Greet and welcomed over 40 attendees, including practicing artists, teachers, creative professionals, and other LAB supporters. Student volunteers led presentations on LAB, including the art challenges, field trip, mentor artists, the exhibition, and the zine. In addition, guests were able to ask the students questions about how LAB has impacted them and how they will carry what they’ve learned with them into their future pursuits. The Meet + Greet provided students with an opportunity to network while gaining confidence in speaking about their work to the public. Attendees were provided a set of “ice-breaker” questions prior to the event, which helped jump start the Q+A. The students each introduced themselves, shared their experiences with the program, how it impacted them so far, and how they have built new relationships. The event provided a special opportunity for the students to network and learn more about arts careers while gaining confidence and becoming more comfortable speaking about their work and presenting it to the public.


LAB 2021: NETWORK NOT FOUND ON VIEW JULY 30 - AUGUST 7, 2021 Students came together at Locust Projects on the final day of the program to install their onsite collaborative exhibition. The LAB teens were responsible for putting together a list of materials to create a large-scale installation featuring painting, sculpture, video animation, original music, and dynamic lighting. Each year’s LAB exhibition evolves as a unique and timely reflection of the current issues and ideas impacting the youth in each cohort. This year’s theme, Network Not Found, focused on technology’s impact on mental health and balance. The students’ intention was to create a space reflecting the stress and challenges of being “glued to a screen” due to COVID and societal pressures. In the 44-page zine featuring two-page spreads by each student, students used the common theme of a “TV Head” to convey their emotions. The zine is available online at, with a printed version distributed by Dale Zine, Extra Virgin Press, and Pérez Art Museum Miami. Students took charge of the zine and show’s aesthetic, development, and execution, utilizing the skills they cultivated during the course of the four week summer art intensive.

The project also consists of an online and printed zine with additional works from each student. Click here to view.

POST-PROGRAM EVALUATION Post-assessment surveys administered at the end of the program showed students learned leadership skills, communication skills, how to collaborate in big groups, time management, motivation and confidence, helpful advice from artist mentors, new artistic mediums, and making lasting friendships with their creative peers. We see the personal growth indicated in the postassessment surveys firsthand throughout the course of the program, with students gaining confidence in themselves and their skills and surprising their mentors by coming up with creative out-of-the-box ideas and going above and beyond the original program parameters. The drive these students have to utilize their creativity and bring their visions to life shows the importance of LAB, as students are able to steer the course of the program and its outcomes in order to build the world they imagine. Students who started on the shy side, hiding from their cameras, emerged as introspective and thoughtful leaders. Students who doubted they would be admitted to the program exuded new confidence just by being included. The youngest student in the program showed exceptional skill during the Museum of Graffiti drawing class and got a boost of confidence from positive feedback given there. Students who recently graduated from high school started exploring feasible pathways into creative careers. The mother of an autistic student said she was moved by how excited her son was about the program activities. And across the board, students showed an inspiring willingness to encourage each other and help each other do their best creative work. When asked to describe their LAB experience in one word, students enthusiastically said it was: empowering, challenging, motivating, mind-melding, healthy, mind blowing, world changing, and just a lot of fun.

POST-PROGRAM EVALUATION QUOTES “The tips and advice from the guest speakers will be something that I will keep in mind for years to come.” “LAB will stay with me because this experience has been life changing, giving me a real taste of the real world, as well as the friends I’ve made here.” “I think I will be more confident to branch out of my comfort zone and challenge myself to create something completely different.” “It’s definitely motivated me to keep creating work, hearing other artists’ stories has really made me excited for future opportunities.” “The best part honestly was putting up the exhibit and just free flowing ideas with others and collaborating creatively as a collective.” “The best of LAB was the challenges and creating the exhibit. The challenges really pushed me out of my comfort zone and I really enjoyed creating them. I also loved being able to bring our ideas into a physical space and really transport people to a feeling.” “Memories, people, photos, everything. The energy and vibes this exhibition gave me will always stay with me.” “It was nice to hear other artists my age talk about art as a potential career or question if they even want to do so. I’m not always able to get that. It was nice to work with everyone I really loved it.”


WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? After students complete the program, we offer opportunities for mentoring, internships, and letters of support and recommendation towards college and jobs. LAB alumni have gone on to attend top art schools, including Cooper Union, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Parsons School of Design, and Rhode Island School of Design. LAB Alumni stay connected to Locust Projects, often returning as interns, visitors, or artists, and are consistently forwarded opportunities and information specific to young artists. Room to Rise, a multiyear Whitney Museum-led study of immersive art programs like LAB, documents the powerful effects these programs have on teens, including lasting engagement with arts and culture, significant personal and professional development, and increased leadership skills and civic engagement. We see this in action firsthand as we stay connected with LAB alumni.

Locust Art Builders 2021 was made possible through lead support from the Hillsdale Fund Inc. and the Albert and Jane Nahmad Family Foundation. Additional support provided by The Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor Board and County Commissioners, The Children’s Trust; The Kirk Foundation; Susan and Richard Arregui and the Friends of Next Generation. We also want to thank ARTEZA Art Supplies, the official art supplies sponsor of LAB 2021, and VANS, our special 2021 design partner. Illustrations used throughout the report are student art works from their Zine project.

3852 North Miami Avenue, Miami, FL 33127 305.576.8570 | | @locustprojects