Today we’d like to introduce you to German DuBois III.
German, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My entire professional career has been devoted to serving as an Educator and my positions have varied from leading a classroom in the South Bronx to an Administrator at the state level in Georgia, from working at local community-based organizations to a major Universities, and through all 25 years, I have always believed in empowering those who are often powerless, our youth.
As a result of the devastation in Puerto Rico, caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017, I was involved in leading a community mural campaign called Puerto Rico Hope. The goal was to use the power of art to raise awareness about the ongoing need for basic supplies and financial support to aid the victims still struggling in Puerto Rico. After five intense weeks, a total of 22 artists collaborated on over 20 murals that were painted on two sides of 6 story building in the Buena Vista area of Midtown Miami. The massive artwork attracted hundreds of visitors as well as major media outlets, which highlighted the amazing work of both local and national artists as well as the funds that were raised to support a local charity, ACT 2, that was in P.R., providing disaster relief services in some of the remote areas of the island at the time.
Shortly after the completion of the Puerto Rico Hope campaign, the opportunity to use the power of art to impact lives presented itself once again. Upon being introduced to Steve Owens, the Superintendent of the Miami Dade Regional Juvenile Detention Center, the idea of using murals, to teach the concept of Hope and Self-Efficacy, as a life-skill to teens who were incarcerated, was conceptualized.
HOPE is a universal ideology, that ‘super-cedes’ class, race, gender, education attainment, region, faith, politics, etc. Unfortunately, most human beings don’t entertain the theory of hope until some form of despair takes root in their lives. Although HOPE alone cannot solve conflicts, the idea that HOPE if truly embraced could offer a young person a positive outlook, an awareness to persevere and/or an attitude to ‘never give up’, could be a very powerful life skill that could sustain them through daunting times in their lives.
Self-Efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in his/her capacity and or ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task. Society often encourages youth to set goals but does little to guide them through the strategic process of planning and executing those same goals.
HOPE Murals uses the mural creation process as an experiential exercise that begins with the conceptual development of an idea, fueled with engaging questions and dialogue, that transforms into symbols/images that become the blueprint for the artwork to be expounded. Participants are involved in every facet of preparing the wall to painting the mural until completion. The finished mural, not only serves to beautify the dull walls of the facility but also serves as a point of reflection and inspiration to all, including staff and youth, who view the artwork. Lastly, the participants develop a new found sense of confidence and positive mindset derived from completing a mural that serves as an example that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to achieve.
There are enough walls at the Miami Dade Regional Juvenile Detention Center to complete murals for the next two years. HOPE Murals completes a mural a month and has completed ten murals to date.
Has it been a smooth road?
I’ve learned that nothing worthwhile pursuing in life ever runs smoothly. Aside from the amazing video production(s) on the HOPE Murals website and our social media platforms (YouTube, Instagram, & Facebook), produced by Chris Collot, HOPE Murals Creative Director, the road traveled has been primarily a one-man journey. I often find myself wearing many hats in an effort to build a credible reputation for the organization. Despite a few donations from individuals along the way, general funding for paint, supplies, and equipment have been a financial challenge from day one. Needless to say, the needs are greater than the supplies.
We are currently awaiting our 501c3 nonprofit, tax-exempt status from the IRS, and plan to apply for Foundation grants to support general operating costs. In addition, HOPE Murals is seeking sponsorship from private businesses who would be interested in supporting our programming efforts.
Although we have been operating on a ‘shoe-string’ budget for almost a year, HOPE Murals has been blessed with amazing artists who volunteer their time and talent and continues to produce a ‘mural a month’,
So, as you know, we’re impressed with HOPE Murals – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
As the Executive Director of HOPE Murals, my responsibilities range from logistics and project management to fundraising and marketing. I believe my greatest asset, or maybe what I enjoy the most, is facilitating the weekly workshop discussions and youth development programming that serve as the basis for both the artwork that transpires over time and the ‘life skill’ lessons learned via the mural creation process. I have always had an ability to motivate youth to achieve even when they lacked self-confidence.
The opportunity to witness a teen grow internally and discover his/her ability to be successful at completing a task that many doubted they could achieve is magical. Many of the teens we work with have often been ‘put down’ by their peers, family, and friends. They often internalize their past mistakes as a natural inability to achieve. HOPE Murals has been successful at challenging these same teens to reflect on their past and use their mistakes as a springboard into exploring their future with strategic intention and clarity.
Recently, I was asked to serve as a character reference at a legal proceeding, for one of the teens that had participated in completing one of the murals at the Detention Center. Although I attended with the idea of supporting the participant and explained the impact of HOPE Murals, I quickly realized how much the teen had impacted me. The teen eloquently expressed how she had often doubted herself in the past, and her participation in the program and interaction with the artists served as a beacon of hope and motivated her to envision her life beyond the bars. Upon her release, she re-enrolled in High school and is scheduled to graduate this spring and enroll in college. Furthermore, she has asked to volunteer with HOPE Murals and share her story with other youth as an example for them to learn from.
There are many amazing art organizations that work with youth, but I believe that HOPE Murals does more than just artwork. HOPE Murals empowers youth to view their future as a blank canvas despite their hardships and encourages them to be the Featured Artist in creating a vision of success for their lives.
What’s your outlook for the industry in our city?
The art world in Miami is currently booming. Although Wynwood serves as the hub for everything Art-related, you don’t have to travel far to see how the entire city of Miami is embracing the magic of art, to both beautify dilapidated buildings, but to also identify communities and promote diverse cultures throughout the city.
Whether you are an architect, fashion designer or muralist, this is a great time to reside in Miami and test your creative skill sets in a market of your choice. Do not hesitate. Jump into the art scene with both feet and you just might surprise yourself with an art filled splash that could change your life and the landscape of Miami.
- Website: www.hopemurals.org
- Phone: Cell: 646.302.0163
- Email: GermanD@hopemurals.org
- Instagram: IG: @HopeMurals
- Facebook: FB: HopeMurals
- Other: Youtube channel: HopeMurals
DREAM BIG Mural – Featured Artist: Dave L., CHOOSE FREEDOM Mural – Featured Artist: BlackBrain, HOPE MURAL LOGO Mural – Featured Artist: RocSol, Image of German – Photo Cred: Alex Melo