Melissa Fernandez, a 2018 graduate of the New World School of the Arts high school, was selected as this year’s 1st Place Latino Art Beat competition winner for her artwork titled “Recetas del Corazón.” To proudly accept her award were Melissa’s parents, Victor and Maria Fernandez, who along with NWSA dean of visual arts Maggy Cuesta and Melissa’s art teacher, Jennifer Gifford, attended the ceremony at Miami City Hall in Coconut Grove. The awards were presented in front of a large audience to the winners and their families by Mayor Francis X. Suarez, the Miami City Commissioners, and Latino Art Beat President Don Rossi Nuccio. This year’s winning artworks including Melissa's drawing, were exhibited at Wynwood Walls that same evening.
“I was inspired by my Mexican background to do a piece highlighting my family's passion for cooking and making passed-down recipes from my grandparents,” explained Melissa about the concept for her award-winning piece. “Food is one of our way of connecting and showing unconditional love for each other. All the flavor, spices and soul that goes into home cooking is so lovely. The moment others come to taste your creation is amazing.”
“As President of the Art Honors Society Melissa was the quiet leader who consistently organized volunteer opportunities, provided weekly email updates and helped collect and prepare art work from her fellow classmates for local and national art shows,” explained Melissa’s NWSA art teacher Jennifer Gifford. “Her extra efforts, positive attitude and attention to detail were exceptional. As an artist, she surprised us with gutsy collaged sculptures and drawings about her family and life that revealed certain struggles she was dealing with at home. She was a voracious reader and was chosen to represent her class as their graduation speaker. In addition to an outstanding artist and student she also is a kind, generous person who can easily laugh at herself.”
In her bio, Melissa highlights that through her art she “explores the interaction people have with their surroundings, allowing her to draw and learn about human relationships within domestic environments. The varying weight of her line catalyzes the focus that she has on details and positive/negative space. Visually, she represents the essence of people as characters, emphasizing their individual movements. She shares stories about her identity, specifically her Hispanic background and fluid sex/gender, through illustrations that reveal both the external public side and internal private side of unresolved personal tensions.”
Melissa, who could not attend the Latino Art Beat ceremony due to her school schedule in California, graduated from New World School of the Arts and is currently studying Illustration at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, pursuing a career in editorial illustration. Her dream is to work for magazine companies like The New York Times, The New Yorker or National Geographic to later become a Creative Director. Her work has been exhibited in Coconut Grove Arts Festival, Wayne White's puppet parade "Art is Supposed to Hypnotize You or Something", Small Works, and the YoungArts National Foundation. Melissa’s awards include Presidential Arts Scholar Semifinalist (2018), YoungArts Finalist (2018), Scholastic Arts and Writing Silver Medal Art Portfolio (2018), Florida State Art Fair Merit Winner (2018), Outstanding Achievement Award in Science (2016), Isaiah Fund Scholar (2018), Commencement Speech Award (2018), Visual Arts Dean’s Award (2018), Principal Hall of Honor (2018), Painting Award (2018) and Latino Art Beat Winner (2018).
ABOUT LATINO ART BEAT
Latino Art Beat is a Chicago based not-for profit national arts organization runs a national art competition themed "What Hispanic Heritage & Culture Means to Me". Latino Art Beat celebrates heritage and the student’s artistic talents while encouraging higher education through the award of scholarships, over $2 million awarded since its inception in 1998. LAB’s program gives students from Chicago, Houston, Miami, Los Angeles and Washington, DC opportunities for studies based on their artistic talent.
ABOUT NEW WORLD SCHOOL OF THE ARTS
In 2018 U.S. News and World Report ranked New World School of the Arts #149 among 20,500 public high schools in the nation, #42 among all Magnet schools nationwide and #17 among all public high schools in the state of Florida. NWSA is one of only 15 Demonstration Schools in the U.S., named by Magnet Schools of America. Since 1989, its high school student body has garnered 21 Presidential Scholars in the Arts, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students who exemplify academic excellence.
A Florida center of excellence in the visual and performing arts, New World School of the Arts is an educational partnership of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami Dade College and the University of Florida. NWSA provides a comprehensive program of artistic, creative, and academic development through a curriculum that reflects our community and the rich multicultural state of Florida. Through our partners NWSA confers the high school diploma, Associate of Arts degree, and Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees in programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance, Music, Theater and Art & Design. New World School of the Arts' rigorous eight-year curriculum and conservatory-style teaching has empowered students in our community and our nation to become leaders in the arts for more than 30 years.
Providing access is one of New World School of the Arts most important missions. Blind to academic standing at the onset, NWSA’s acceptance policy is based solely on artistic talent. This allows students from all backgrounds, ethnicities and socioeconomic status to compete for their spot in the school’s coveted arts programs based on their individual talent. Once accepted, students are expected to achieve both academically and artistically. Earning respected national merit and leadership-based scholarships such as the Gates Scholarship, Posse Foundation Scholars, and Presidential Scholars in the Arts, NWSA students have demonstrated over the years that a rigorous arts curriculum not only helps foster their passion and create the next generation or artists, but it also helps students engage and achieve excellence in any academic discipline.
New World School of the Arts has educated, trained, and cultivated a generation of artists who have become the artistic leaders of the future. Graduates from the high school and college programs of NWSA are award-winning artists, playwrights and performers with Academy, Emmy, Tony, Grammy and Bessie Awards. They are influential painters, sculptors and graphic designers, and their work thrives in museums and galleries, as well as on stages and concert halls around the globe. Our alumni are a source of inspiration to young artists from all walks of life in our community and in our state, and their success is a testament of the possibilities that emerge when the right blend of support and resources are engaged.
Information about the NWSA High School program is available by calling 305-237-3780 or visiting nwsa.mdc.edu.