Art MIA Stories

Poems to the Sky

[VIDEO POST] You probably heard the news: Miami International Airport’s (MIA) travelers will from now on be greeted by third- and fourth-graders’ poetry, but here’s how it really went down at Florida International University. In celebration of National Poetry Month, O, Miami receives submissions from people in South Florida for ideas on how to fulfill their mission: Have every person in Miami encounter at least one poem in April. Randy Burman, the mastermind behind this piece, approached O, Miami with “Poems to the Sky.”

The project was completed in part thanks to O, Miami and The Children’s Trust; however, they weren’t the only players. The people that truly were able to put this project in motion at the Blue Garage at FIU was the Honors College class “Aesthetics & Values,” comprised of 40 undergraduate students–most of them non-art majors–led by professor and artist John W. Bailly.

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Aesthetics & Values Class

After multiple rejections by the Parking Department of the school, two students of the class, Eliana Alba and Daniela Arevalo, decided to take matters into their own hands. A petition soon began to go around University, and the class was able to get the support of the Honors College Dean Lesley Northup, the Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Kenneth A. Jessell and even that of the University President Mark B. Rosenberg.

Original Plans for the Project

Original Plans for the Project

Permission to proceed with the project was finally granted, and painting began on April 20th, with shifts of 9 to 12 am and 12 to 3 am. Regardless of the late night/early morning hours, students met with Randy Burman, his wife Manita Brug-Chmielenska, and Steve Showen to complete the project, among them persisted Kamila Manzueta, Jared Reyes, Kaitlyn Alexander-Titus, and Eliana Alba. By April 28th, the entire class alongisde Bailly, Burman, Brug-Chmielenska, and Showen met on the rooftop of the Blue Garage, with the finished project at their feet. Jessell joined in as well with news: “Poems to the Sky” would have a permanent home in FIU grounds.

Randy Burman, Manita Brug-Chmielenska, Steve Showne

Randy Burman, Manita Brug-Chmielenska, Steve Showen

And we cannot forget to thank Tywon Williams, the fourth-grade poet of this masterpiece.

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