Pinellas art students from Osceola High School study at Art Basel in Miami Beach

12/10/12 Lenka Davis
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Over the weekend weekend the town of Miami dedicated almost every public and private space to art, paying tribute to one of the world’s biggest art shows, Art Basel Miami Beach. People come from all across the world to be a part of it, including fifty art students from Osceola High School in Pinellas County.

After walking across the Art Public exhibition in Collins Park and Bass museum, John Stewart, Osceola High’s art, art history and literature teacher, and his students take a break for lunch and to talk about what they learned.

“We live in such a great area for art in St Petersburg and Sarasota that I try to get kids out of the classroom and into our wonderful world of art: the Dali, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Ringling, as much as I can. An email came and said that the Bass Museum was offering free admission to their part of the Art Basel show and I thought, well, why not? So we got on a bus at five o clock this morning, we drove four and a half hours and got here and we’ve been going through the Bass Museum. What is so exciting about this to me is that we’ve spent two weeks looking at modernism, postmodernism, Dada, and the kids are seeing what is in the classroom actually being used, actually being employed in the art world. They’re here in the city which is celebrating art, very exciting, they’re here among all this great art deco and there’s nothing that you can compare in real experience within the classroom.

The other cool thing is, they are eating Cuban sandwiches, tonight we are going to eat at a Cuban restaurant, so they are getting outside of their Panera world, they’re experimenting not only with art, but also with food and that’s part of it, too.”

Stewart told the students experiencing art is complex: besides the art in museum and expo hall, there is also the urban architecture.

”I love the art deco hotels. You’re just moving through another world and as we were coming down here, a kid said: wow, you know in one of those movies, where they always show people coming to Florida? It’s just like this! And they’re right. On the radio you can’t imagine how vivid the colors are, how blue the sky is, how wonderful it is to be here.”

Kylee Crook, the education program manager at Miami’s Bass Museum of Art, who invited the students to participate at the event, says that the number of students and adults visiting the Bass museum and Art Public has quadrupled since last year.

”We were able to offer these tours for free for Miami Day of Public Schools or public schools in general, all you have to do is get the bus and they are really excited to get the kids out and usually everyone… you know the energy of Art Basel coming with all the satellite fairs is huge, so they’re just glad to be a part of it.”

Breanne Zsiga, one of the students, knows that she can benefit from this trip while studying for her finals.

”It’s really beautiful down here and the art is amazing. There are so many different types… specifically what we are studying right now.”

Emily Harris is a student in the AP course 3-dimensional art. She creates art at school every week, and is ready to take the inspiration back home.

”It’s giving me a lot of ideas for what I might do. I can’t copy it but I’ll try and use the ideas and the emotions that I got from this show. I’m thinking I’m going to do something with the mind and psychosis and a lot of facial expressions because I got really inspired by an artist upstairs and he did a lot of marble sculptures of the face and it was really interesting to me.”

Another student, Bryant Nguyen, found encouragement from Art Basel.

”It’s really inspiring seeing a lot of the art, because it comes from so many different styles and so many different perspectives that it really makes me want to just go back home and start sketching again. And it can also influence not just visual art, but writing, as well, or performance art in some cases.”

As we finish talking, John Stewart and his students line up to go to the main Art Basel expo.

Art Basel photos from WMNF News volunteer Christopher Davis

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