Locust Arts Builders: Fostering Miami's Next Art Stars

High school artists will show the Miami art crowd what they're made of when Locust Projects unveils this year's Locust Arts Builders (LAB) collaborative exhibition.

This is LAB's fifth year giving young artists the chance to learn more about the professional art world. The program grew out of a want to provide artistically inclined students the ability to express themselves in a public space.

The collaboration is overseen by Chana Sheldon, the executive director of Locust Projects, and program directors/artist-mentors Loriel Beltran and Monica Lopez de Victoria, of the TM Sisters.

"It really came out of this internship program that we had where students from DASH [Design Architecture Senior High] and New World [School of the Arts] would come in and help us out with the installation and office stuff," said Sheldon. "It became very clear that these are the next generation of Miami-based artists, and we needed to support them in some way because they were so enthusiastic about what we were doing with our exhibition and they wanted to be a part of it."

To help develop Locust Arts Builders, Sheldon turned to Victoria, who had past experience with organizing and promoting large events. "I had just had an exhibition there with my sister and 30 other creators and performers," said Victoria. "She saw how I was able to organize and orchestrate a lot of people to make one final outcome while letting all of their talents shine through. She approached me about developing this project, and I was super into it." The program has been getting better each year, she said, but this year might be the best yet: "This year, I feel like it's finally in full bloom."

When Locust Arts Builders first started, 15 students were invited, said Sheldon. Afterwards, more students wanted to be a part of the program.

"The level of applications that we got were significantly noticeable and we had about double the amount of applications this year," said Victoria.

"We were getting more submissions and about two years ago, we moved to a larger space, and so there was more room to create larger, more ambitious work," said Sheldon. "We really wanted to be able to spread the opportunity to more students. This year, we're so excited that we have 17 different high schools represented."

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Monique Jones

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