New Visions Project for Miami Lighthouse for the blind
August 1st through 12th, 1997
The Miami Lighthouse for the Blind New Visions Project aims to bring together clients, volunteers and neighborhood (Little Havana) residents in the creation of a series of community murals. Through this process members of the Little Havana community will gain a better understanding of the community-based organization’s role in the neighborhood. Social service agencies often find themselves engaging in community outreach to integrate the delivery of services, seek new clients and fight NIMBY (Not In My BackYard) threats.
This project will attempt to do more than explain the relevance of the Lighthouse to local residents. It will inspire visually impaired clients to meet seemingly impossible challenges—the use of visual art to communicate a message—as an experiential activity upon which to build a more productive life. The philosophy of the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind is to teach its clients to become self-sufficient and confident in their daily lives. This is done through a series of vocational, educational and community programs—some of which will be depicted in the murals.
The murals will do more than support the clients in their attempts to become integrated into society. The very creation of the murals will begin to change society=s perceptions and biases about those who are visually impaired. Seeing a blind person paint has a tremendous impact on the on-looker. The viewer will no longer perceive the blind person as a source of pity, but worthy of opportunity and support.
More importantly, it will transform the way neighbors in this low-income neighborhood feel about themselves and about those in their midst with disabilities. If blind people can rise above expectations and paint, then what obstacle can the residents of the impoverished, not overcome. The lesson to be taught and learned is that everyone has value– no one can be dismissed as non-productive; that regardless how “bad a deck of cards”one has been dealt, one can make significant contributions.
Each of the 4 murals will be conceived by the participants, in collaboration with long-time Little Havana activist and community artist Xavier Cortada. The murals will be conceptualized and painted on planks of plywood during the the first two weeks of August,1997. Cortada has used his art as an agent of social change in four continents, and recently worked with the Lighthouse’s Summer School clients in the creation of a small mural in the center. The completed murals—totaling 100 linear feet— will be showcased for a year along the exterior perimeter of the Lighthouse property, (601 S.W. 8th Avenue), while its new vocational wing is being constructed. Subsequently, the murals will be integrated into the main center and loaned to other agencies, community organizations and exhibition sites as a traveling exhibit, conveying the strength of the human spirit.