Written By: Christine Dolen

Originally published on

In the midst of the curfew imposed by the Coronavirus lockdown, Miami residents found solace and connection in sharing self-made music (using pots and pans) with neighbors. The Adrienne Arsht Center wants to bring that same sense of community and art to Art + Mind Day this weekend.

“Covid showed us that the arts aren’t only for entertainment…we turn to the arts to help us heal, restore and feel better about ourselves and to help us disconnect from the stress of the world,” says Jairo Ontiveros, VP of Arts Education and Community Engagement at the Arsht Center.

“We know that there is research there and that engaging in creative activities like singing, dancing, painting, etc…(has) many therapeutic benefits.”

Art + Mind will have a variety of free interactive arts workshops, demonstrations, and performances so guests can learn what resonates with them the most.

For its inauguration, Arsht is including a community marketplace where many of Miami’s cultural, health, and wellness organizations, such as Perez Art Museum, Center for Family and Child Enrichment, Nu Deco Ensemble, and others will be available.  Guests will be able to learn to journal, recite Poetry, or do Afro Yoga with live harp music.

Community dance class at ArtsLaunch 2019 (Photo by: Justin Namon)

“There’s no universal design for learning…one might go through the music portion, (another) through theatre, dance, poetry or creative writing, but what is common amongst them all is that the arts are the connector,” says Ontiveros.

It’s also the first time Arsht has commissioned Aquazul, a virtual reality meditative experience where guests put on an Oculus headset and experience a guided meditation all related to the effects of water.

“(It) calms your neurons and lowers your heart rate, all by listening to the sound of water (and) the visualization of water as blue space,” says Ontiveros, “Miami is a city of water, it’s a coastal city, but there are many people in our community that have never experienced going into the ocean or access to the beach.”

The seed for Art + Mind Day was planted six years ago when the Arsht Center, partnered with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, began a mental wellness program for 9th graders.

This program, “I Am Me,” later developed into a touring production that was designed to be performed at every high school in Miami-Dade. It began with an online wellness resource guide and some self-expression art workshops for teens then expanded into community workshops led by trained teaching artists.

“It was the next perfect piece of the puzzle to say how do we bring the arts sector and the health and wellness sector and really name the arts as a vital tool for community wellness,” says Ontiveros. “Everybody has their own way of dealing with anxiety, stress, depression…how many Miamians commute an hour each way and along that commute, you turn on your radio to hear music or listen to a podcast to help you destress from your day?”

Children express themselves through art at Heritage Fest 2023 (Photo by: Alex Markow)

Art + Mind will be inclusive of all abilities and spotlight the collective family’s mental health, from grandparents to children.

“Community-building through cross-connection of generations of our community is important. It’s also about destigmatizing, at a community level, that it is ok and actually it’s good, to have community conversations about our health and wellness, both physical and mental,” says Ontiveros. “It’s great that (children) are learning math, science, and language arts (in the classroom), but those social, emotional skills are also essential in the personal development of a child so they learn it is ok for them to self-express.”

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