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Art in the Gardens Will Transform a Middle School With Murals by Local Artists

Diamond Minds Transformational Leadership Academy, a private elementary and middle school, will host its inaugural Art in the Gardens community art event tomorrow. The outdoor gathering will feature works of local artists including Marcus Blake and Ronald Sanchez. Students at the school worked alongside the painters to create murals throughout the school's Miami Gardens campus. The show will also incorporate a Silent Revolution guided tour.

Octavia Yearwood, a dancer with Team Ohhh and after-school educator, organized the event with Tamika Lewis, principal at Diamond Minds. The idea was hatched during a conversation between Lewis and Yearwood. "Tamika was telling me she wanted to do a festival to transform buildings into art with murals," Yearwood says, similar to the project at José de Diego Middle School in Wynwood

The idea was funded by multiple organizations, and Yearwood, imbedded in Miami's arts community, immediately knew whom to contact. Initially, the plan was to bring in artists from out of state. "I always talk to my friends, and they tell me that artists who are not from Miami get work down here," she says. "It’s a huge gripe."
The dancer tapped into an impressive pool of local talent — including the Laundromat Art Space's Ronald Sanchez, Brandon Frasier, and Oski, The Artist — to paint the murals. The theme for Saturday will be "Journeys," an ode to the creative process — the story of taking oneself from one level or period to the next. 

Yearwood recently took her students on a field trip to Wynwood. For some, it was their first time in the art-filled neighborhood.

"We shouldn’t have to go to Wynwood to be exposed to art," the teacher says. 

Art is essential to Yearwood, and she wants to make sure her students are thoroughly exposed to its soothing qualities. "The kids in the communities I service in Miami Gardens and Overtown don’t have access to art... A lot of young people don’t know how to self-soothe."

Since teaching the after-school dance program, Yearwood says, she has already seen an increase in students' school performance. 

"As a human being, it’s one of the most important things to realize that you’re creative," she says.

Art in the Gardens
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 16, at Diamond Minds Transformational Leadership Academy (1160 NW 159th Dr., Miami). Admission is free. Call 305-623-4438 or visit or
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Alexandra Martinez is an arts and culture writer based in Miami. She graduated from Columbia University in 2014 with a bachelor's in film studies. Find her at

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