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Collector Rosa de la Cruz leads a lecture during a BFA trip to Venice

Collector Rosa de la Cruz leads a lecture during a BFA trip to Venice.

It’s hard to believe the New World School of the Arts is barely 26 years old. The amount of talent that the high school and college has produced in visual arts in that short period of time is astounding. You’ve got Hernan Bas and Jen Stark, Bert Rodriguez and Leyden Rodriguez Casanova. Passing through those doors have been the likes of Mike Loveland and Jaie Hwang, Ivan Toth Depena and Naomi Fisher. The list goes on.

These are artists who have created a strong, serious art base here in Miami. They have represented the art scene in Miami and much further afield – with awards and shows, some opening alternative galleries right here. Along with a talented group of teachers, they have all helped bring Miami up a notch – or three. But we are young still, and there is ample room for growth and expansion. Which is why the Knight Foundation has decided to give over $500,000 to allow students seeking a bachelor’s of fine arts to travel overseas during their senior year, to see the world and all the art – and the art-making and art history – it has to offer. They have done it before, in trips to Berlin and Venice, in a program designed by faculty, gallerist Fred Snitzer, and collectors Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz. This award makes it a serious commitment.

According to Dennis Scholl, vice president for arts at the Knight Foundation, “So many of Miami’s best artists are born and raised here, and often attend New World School of the Arts. We want them to ultimately make South Florida their home. But it’s important that they see the greater world of art beyond our borders, as these cultural field trips allow them to do.”

Although we now live in a virtual world, where images and cultures are at our fingertips, there’s nothing like the real thing. Ever seen a Caravaggio in an Italian church, dimly lit, its colors and emotions so intense you realize you never really saw it before? How about the proliferation of art indoors and out in Berlin, a magnet for cutting-edge artists for at least a decade now? While Miami is well-represented in contemporary art, in museums, galleries and private collections, we don’t have much of a historical base, and no arts education can really be complete without some first-hand, primary source experience. Time to spread our wings and fly.

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