College of the Arts Dean Lucinda Lavelli recently traveled to New Orleans to explore some of the College of the Arts’ faculty and alumni’s artistic and entrepreneurial accomplishments. Lavelli visited an exhibition developed through the University of Florida’s Art History faculty and the Harn Museum of Art in addition to connecting with UF alumni.
The exhibition, Kongo across the Waters, curated by School of Art + Art History Professor Dr. Robin Poynor, Harn Museum of Art Curator of African Art Dr. Susan Cooksey and Royal Museum for Central Africa Curator of African Collections Hein Vanhee, is showcased at the New Orleans Museum of Art. The exhibition, which has been featured at numerous museums throughout the U.S., explores the rise of the Kongo kingdom in western central Africa, its first contact with Europeans and the Kongo’s influence on African American art and culture in the United States, while allowing visitors to explore linguistics, anthropology, musicology, colonization and art. Although Poynor has written several widely renowned books, his most recent, Kongo across the Waters, was brought to life when the exhibition was constructed.
While at the New Orleans Museum of Art, Lavelli and Poynor met with art history alumna Lynne Mire. Later, Lavelli reached out to multiple other College of the Arts alumni to connect and learn of their accomplishments since college.
The dean joined graphic design alumna Courtney Fruge to see firsthand how the arts and entrepreneurship have come together in their family-owned business, Fruge Aqua Farms. Fruge utilizes her graphic design talents to brand Fruge Seafood and its distribution nationally.
In addition to visiting Fruge, Lavelli recently met with visual art studies alumnus Adam Dawson to learn more about his new entrepreneurial adventure with Cajun Fire Brewing Company, the only African-American owned and operated brewery in the U.S. Dawson and other fellow Gators founded Cajun Fire Brewing Company in late 2011 in New Orleans. He has served as a vital member in this business startup due to his creative augmentation, which is an essential component in the professional realm. Dawson has differentiated the brewery’s brand with logos and creative elements that make prominent its distinctive character and qualities.
The trip was an incredible experience for Lavelli and faculty members to see how the College of the Arts has impacted and encouraged alumni to embrace their creativity, knowledge and inspirations to further their career paths successfully.