2007-8 an Impressive Year for NWSA
The past year was a good one for New World School of the Arts (NWSA). On the national stage, U.S. News and World Report included the high school division in its list of Gold Medal schools, an annual ranking of the top 100 public high schools in the nation. NWSA was just one of a handful of Florida schools identified on the list, which is generated from a pool of 18,790 schools.
In addition, several current students and alumni made headlines. From a nationwide pool of 8,000 candidates, the 2008 National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts awarded five NWSA students the prestigious title of youngARTS finalist.
Two dance students, Gentry George and Melissa Fernández, and three visual arts students, Cathryn García-Menocal, Sheena Klimoski and Román Arévalo, were selected through a blind judging process to be recognized for their outstanding artistic contributions.
The five NWSA finalists won a combined $24,500, including a $10,000 Gold Award to García-Menocal. In addition, each finalist was chosen as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts nominee – a distinction afforded to a select few, only through the youngARTS program.
Alumni Continue Proud Tradition
Bert Rodríguez and Adler Guerrier – two visual arts graduates – were invited to participate in one of the most prominent exhibitions of contemporary American art in the U.S., the Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.
For Maggy Cuesta, dean of visual arts at NWSA, the news came as no surprise. “Our students are continuously breaking ground and are recognized internationally for their work and talent,” she said.
Guerrier focuses on capturing neighborhoods through photos and drawings. A native of Haiti, Guerrier’s work has been exhibited in numerous venues, including Miami Art Museum and The Studio Museum in Harlem.
“Being in the Whitney Biennial is a wonderful opportunity to exhibit my works,” said Guerrier. “I am honored and also proudly represent my community of artists.”
Locally, one alumnus vividly represents the success that NWSA graduates can achieve. Painter César Santos works in an artist’s apartment in a high-rise above the Venetian Causeway.
After receiving an Associate in Arts from Miami Dade College through the New World School of the Arts, Santos left South Florida in search of a traditional European art education.
At the Angel Academy of Art in Florence, he found it in an intensive 19th century-style of training that emphasized Renaissance masters, such as Caravaggio, Titian and Rembrandt. Then in fall 2006, he brought his experience home.
He quickly developed a following and has completed commissioned works for Miami Hispanic Ballet (for its International Ballet Festival) and Miami International Film Festival at MDC.
Santos continues to pursue a personal vision he describes as “conceptual-realism” that provokes thought and gives “the people the space to think and have illusion.”
NWSA also has engaged the community through a series of provocative exhibitions and cultural events. Projected Visions, an exciting exhibition presented at the New World Gallery, featured the work of 14 high school and college students from the electronic media department who transformed the space into a kaleidoscope of imagery.
Curated by Endowed Teaching Chair Alisa Pitchenik, the exhibition focused on the experimental use of images as they were projected on the structure of the gallery. “I selected pieces that either played with or manipulated the viewer’s eye,” says Pitchenik.
And an unusual, modern interpretation of a classic opera proved to be a perfect fit for the school. Temptation, romance and outrageous fun promised to delight audiences as the NWSA College Opera Theatre Ensemble presented Mozart’s comedic opera Così fan tutte.
The production followed the traditional plot yet took place on a fictional modern-day cruise ship, the “Temptress of the Seas.”
The opera was directed by faculty member Jeffrey Buchman, past winner of the Luciano Pavarotti Voice Competition and an opera star in his own right.
“I believe it is worthwhile to consider how a tried-and-true work might be reinterpreted by today’s young audiences and singers,” Buchman said. “Mozart lends itself very well to modernization, especially when the beauty of his music and the comedy of his libretti are given free rein. I think our setting for Così fan tutte is fresh and vivid.”
And NWSA expanded its reach when the school was tapped to participate in an exciting creative alliance with Macy’s. Through August 2008, a student-designed and decorated window will be displayed each month at the Macy’s South Beach store.
“We wanted to reflect the local community,” said Robert Unger, Macy’s Florida senior vice president of store planning/design and visual presentation. “This unique collaboration … is a natural way for us to support our local ‘up-and-coming’ artists.”
— Katherine Adjemian