The Easel-Bench Courtyard at the South Miami K8 Expressive Arts Magnet recently opened. The project was the result of a community outreach partnership among FIU Landscape Architecture, the FIU ASLA Student Chapter, and the SMK8 Expressive Arts Magnet, which was led by Roberto Rovira and student assistants Chris Cabezas and Amanda Vargas-Love, with SMK8 Arts Magnet teacher Laurie Russell.
Over 60 students, 15 parents and 2 teachers from the Arts Magnet and FIU collaborated to transform the courtyard. The new furnishings function as easels and worktables and the new courtyard will be used for various mixed-media exercises, plein-air painting, and portrait drawing, in addition to facilitating arts education that engages the outdoor environment. The design in effect doubles the classroom space.
Courtyard and bench design by Roberto Rovira, fabrication by FIU Landscape Architecture under the direction of Eric Peterson, and execution by SMK8 parents, teachers and the fantastic team of SMK8 and FIU landscape and architecture students led by Chris Cabezas and Amanda Vargas Love, with Andrea Sandoval, Phillip Byrnes, Kevin Arrieta, Leah Davis, John Gioello, Fiorella Mavares, and Matt Peterson. The Arts Magnet teacher and main collaborator in the project was Ms. Laurie Russell.