Dear SA+AH Community,
Welcome to Fall semester! Whether you are returning to UF and the School of Art + Art History or newly arriving, I am glad you are here. Fall is always exciting on campus - it is a fresh start, the beginning of a new cycle of learning and growth (and, yes, football season). Of course this happens every year, but no two years are ever the same. Each new person changes the dynamic, the energy, and has an impact on the overall experience. I hope you find that as empowering as I do.
As I write this, I must admit that my optimism is complicated by the news cycle – the shootings in Texas and Ohio are mixed with the news of Toni Morrison’s passing. It seems appropriate to include some of her strong words, as relevant now as when she spoke them, from 2016:
This is the time for every artist in every genre to do what he or she does loudly and consistently. It doesn't matter to me what your position is. You've got to keep asserting the complexity and the originality of life, and the multiplicity of it, and the facets of it. This is about being a complex human being in the world, not about finding a villain. This is no time for anything else than the best that you've got.
I am proud of the work we are doing in the school to engage in conversations and experiences that use art, design and scholarship to confront this complexity. We spent much of last year recruiting faculty to join us in this pursuit. This year we have the absolute pleasure of welcoming sevennew faculty to the School this fall. Meghan Moe Beitiks has joined our art faculty as Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studio Art; Dr. Derek Burdette joined our art history program as Assistant Professor with expertise in Latin American art;Jesús Fuenmayor is our Visiting Curator and new Program Director of University Galleries; Dr. Dori Griffin has joined our graphic design faculty as Assistant Professor in Graphic Design; Daniel Jolliffe has joined the art faculty this year as Visiting Assistant Professor in Art + Technology; Álvaro Luís Lima joined our art history faculty as Provisional Assistant Professor of African Art History; and Dr. Porchia Moore joined our museum studies faculty as Assistant Professor in Museum Studies. Please look for their bios in the newsletter and join me in welcoming them to our community.
These times call for artists, designers and scholars of the arts to play an important role. This year promises to be full of interesting conversations about how we can best engage with our concentric communities of the school, college, university as well as outward to the city, state, nation and international communities. It will be a year of planning. The College of the Arts will be completing a strategic plan during this year that will set the course for our college for the next several years. The School will participate in that process while we are simultaneously writing our own self-study. The University Galleries will be completing a strategic plan this year as well. The purpose of all of this planning is to articulate ambitious goals for distinguishing and elevating the work we are already doing and identifying how we can build upon this work. To do that, I am asking for your engagement and your best ideas. Please look for ways you can contribute to these important conversations over the course of the upcoming months.
Students can add their voices to these conversations in several ways. There are two student advisory groups (one for undergraduates and one for graduates) that students can join. The first meetings of both will be on October 11, times and locations to be announced in the newsletter, on the digital boards, and posted in our buildings. Informally, students can make an appointment with my colleague, Laura Parenteau, who manages my calendar. Also, please look for me at as many of our public events as I can fit in– in the hope of seeing many of you there, I have included the first several below.
The fall schedule in the University Gallery begins with “Vitruvian Women: Paintings by Allison Zuckerman,” September 3-October 25, 2019, with a lecture and an opening reception September 13, 2019 at 6pm and 7pm, respectively. The Visiting Artist Lecture Series begins with artist Wafaa Bilalon September 24at 6pm. The Harn Eminent Scholar Program lectures kick off with the fall symposium “Beyond Biography: Artistic Practice and Personhood in Colonial Latin America,” October 10-11, 2019 at 6pm in Smathers 100, with a keynote lecture by Susan V. Webster.
I look forward to seeing you around campus and engaging in these conversations with you this year. I will end with another quote from Toni Morrison:
I’m a believer in the power of knowledge and the ferocity of beauty, so from my point of view, your life is already artful—waiting, just waiting, for you to make it art.
Have a great semester,