LOVE CAN BUILD ANYTHING
After Hurricane Andrew swept away their homes, some children in Miami-Dade County were so devastated that they couldn’t talk about it. So, they painted! One child painted a picture of the roof of a house falling down, with pets still inside the rubble. “I was so glad that my pets were okay!” reads the inscription to the drawing.
The “Love Can Build Anything” 48 foot movable mural (1992) is a collaboration among forty-five children (ages 12-14) who were traumatized by Hurricane Andrew – and artists Dena Stewart and Stewart Stewart. The mural visually depicts what the children heard, saw and felt before, during and after the Hurricane.
Inspired by a song written by Lanny Eliot Smith, “Love can Build Anything” was a collaborative project among students (Mays Middle School), who experienced the devastation of Hurricane Andrew, and artists Dena Stewart and Stewart Stewart.
Presented at the reopening of MetroZoo after the Hurricane, this mural has become a symbol of healing and hope. One participants’ mother wrote a letter saying, “… it is my observation, in comparing the recovery of my son Eran, who participated in the mural project, with that of his twin, who did not, Eran is much farther along in overcoming the trauma caused by the storm than either his twin or his older brother. I feel that by expressing pictorially what he was very reluctant to talk about, Eran and the other art students gave a face to the faceless storm, identified their fears, and thus confronted them and dealt with them much more effectively…”
The mural served as a backdrop for a nationally televised Presidential Town Meeting in Homestead, FL on Labor Day, 1993. Attended by President Bill Clinton and Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Labor Secretary Robert Reich and HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, the Town Meeting was featured in its entirety on both C-Span channels and was highlighted on CNN and the network news programs. The President added his support for this project by signing the mural as a personal commitment to volunteerism.
As a result of this project, Center for Folk and Community Art was established and “Telling Stories Through Visuals” became a national model for using a combination of writing and art as tools for intervention, prevention, and education to address community issues and improve the human condition.
Another highlight of this project … it is featured as a Lesson Card entitled “Rebuilding Lives Through Art” in the SRA/McGraw-Hill Curriculum Connections Open Court reading and language arts program – Imagine it!, a comprehensive literacy tool used in schools in more than 50 countries around the world.
The mural toured the Miami Youth Museum, Miami Museum of Science, the Miami-Dade Library system, Museum of Science and Discovery in Fort Lauderdale, the Town and County Mall, South Dade, FL., and the National Hurricane Center in Dade County. The Points of Light Foundation displayed the mural at its Heroes of the Hurricane event attended by Lt. Governor Buddy McKay, Insurance Commissioner Crawford, and actor Jimmy Smits.
The mural was displayed at the Early Warning Hurricane Museum in Deerfield Beach, FL and at the Frost Museum at FIU in Miami. The mural is currently at the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute at FIU in Washington DC.
For more information, please contact Center for Folk and Community Art and speak with Dena Stewart, Program Director and/or Stewart Stewart, Executive Director.
Dena Stewart | [email protected] | 786 269-3606
Stewart Stewart | [email protected] | 786 269-6392