In the midst of a national racial justice movement following the murder of George Floyd,
Opa-Locka Community Development Corporation and O, Miami worked with a team of local artists and art therapists to host Blooming Names in Opa-locka. The project honors the lives of Black people killed by police, locally, and nationally, while creating a communal space for residents to express grief and practice collective healing in the face of a continuing national tragedy.
The project centered around the public art installation of a temporary memorial - a flower sculpture, made of 1000 stems, and an honorary plaque - displayed for public viewing the weekend of October 2, 2020, in the Triangle, a historically segregated neighborhood in east Opa-Locka. Open for public interaction, it encouraged audience participation through exchanging floral pieces from the installation with mementos and objects commemorating lost loved ones.
Originally envisioned by Miami-based artists Elia Khalaf and Sara Darling (of Rose Coloured), Blooming Names incorporated community participation through three online workshops open to families with children ages 8 and up.
Local poet Darius Daughtry (of Art Prevails Project) led the first of two workshops on Saturday, 9/26, collaborating with families to write poetry and craft the language for the memorial plaque. Local muralist Chire Regans (VantaBlack) led the second of the two workshops, first grounding the space using oils, sage, and crystals from Hattie’s House, then using the elements of design to teach participants to make their own art addressing the lives of people lost to police brutality and gun violence. A week after the installation, in the final workshop on Saturday, Oct 10th, local floral artist Sara Darling engaged families in making their own mini floral memorials, to commemorate their own loved ones and continue the workshops’ goal of self-care.
Art therapists Deanna Barton (of Artspiration) and Elia Khalaf facilitated each workshop to
support healing and create a therapeutic space for families to process personal, political, and communal loss. Participating families received a creative care package with materials for their chosen workshop.
This project will be recreated across different neighborhoods in Miami, helping to bring attention to the acute and universal experience Black communities face in the United States, while also offering a space for communal healing, creation, and joy. It is a revolutionary act of remembering - naming - our people and our stories.
Special thanks to florists Sukii of SaySukkii Flower shop and @Kyani for helping create the flower installation.