Dear SAAH Family,
It’s my pleasure to welcome you back at long last to a fully functioning campus! Over the last eighteen months or so, we have watched the world transform around us, and we have been called to put our creativity to work in negotiating the challenges of COVID–19 and the call to racial justice. “Transformation” is one of the pillar values of the School off Art + Art History. We pursue positive transformation through education, research, and creative works, using our curiosity, imagination, and expertise to shape new realities. Never in my lifetime has this mission seemed more necessary, as we wrest positive possibilities from the forces acting on us.
The first big new thing for us this year: the Studio Art program is launching a new interdisciplinary curriculum for the BFA in Art. It’s designed to offer students flexibility to pilot their own path as an artist—an approach that fosters access, equity, and inclusion. As the last step in the long approvals process, the curriculum had to be accepted by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), our national accrediting body. NASAD commended us for our “innovative and thought-provoking approach…undertaken…for the benefit of our students.” As part of UF’s initiative to integrate artificial Intelligence (AI) research and teaching across the university, we are welcoming new Studio Art faculty member Fatimah Tuggar, who is one of four new AI faculty in the College of the Arts.
Graphic Design, too, is introducing an important change to their BFA. We have doubled the number of students we can accommodate in the major and added a new faculty member, Victoria Gerson. This builds on a new graduate degree begun in 2019 and other initiatives like Dori Griffin’s large enrollment UF Quest 1 class. We are making design—and especially our program’s strong emphasis on design as a catalyst for equity—more accessible to students.
The Museum Studies program is back to full strength with the arrival of new faculty member, Jacque Micieli-Voutsinas, who practices critical museum studies, focusing on heritage sites associated with traumas like terrorism. Her research complements the program’s critical engagement with the legacy and possibilities of museums—museums as agents of transformation.
In the last few years, we have also been working to strengthen the University Galleries under the leadership of Jesús Fuenmayor. The School has one larger and two satellite exhibition spaces for contemporary art, where students can now gain experience in all aspects of running and exhibiting in a gallery. In tandem, Art History debuted a graduate certificate in Curatorial Studies last year. The programming of the University Galleries has become radically inclusive, centering the work of Black, Latin American, LatinX, mestizo, queer, and transgender artists. I hope you will come by this fall, when the Galleries, together with UF’s Harn Museum of Art, will mount a major show of works from CIFO, the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation—an eminent collection of art from Latin America and artists of Latin American heritage.
Best wishes for the new year!