Designing hope

At 17, Isabella found herself detained at the Miami-Dade County Juvenile Detention Center. Isabella, a senior at a local Miami Dade County Public High School, never thought her stay at the detention center would motivate her to explore her creative side as well as give hope for a brighter future.

That’s because during her time at the facility, she was able to be part of a new, interactive youth development experience, where juvenile detainees work with local muralists to design, prepare and paint on the walls of the center.

Hope Murals JDC is being used as a vehicle to cultivate self-efficacy, confidence and goal-setting skills in teenagers. The program was launched earlier this year by German DuBois, a nationally known artist who serves as its executive director.

Isabella, who always had an interest in visual arts and coloring, but never took art classes past elementary school, was excited to be part of the program, she explained. “I was looking forward to it,” Isabella said. “It takes your mind off of a lot of things and it is distracting in very positive ways.”

The aim of the program is to use murals, graffiti and urban visual arts to instill self-awareness, self-reflection and self-efficacy into the teenagers who reside in the facility, explained DuBois. Five teenagers at a time are selected to be part of the four week mural creation program. The group is paired up with a local muralist, who will help mentor the group and usher in their vision from the developmental stages into completion.

Isabella and her program-mates worked with muralist, Nicole Salgar, to create a mural titled, “In Bloom.” The mural depicts a woman with a serene, calm countenance. She has long black hair, with a wreath of green leaves covering her eyes, while flower petals flow from her open palm. The woman stands in front of a mountain range while a storm forms behind her. Her torso is painted with a translucent blue, with different roots and branches coming forth from the bottom to the top of her torso. In the torso, a lighter blue is used to create a light effect close to the heart of the woman, where her soul resides.