Alumni Spotlights2017-06-30T19:32:59+00:00

Graduates from FIU’s Department of Art + Art History are Worlds Ahead. They are often featured in art magazines and newspapers, and have exhibited in international, national, and local galleries and shows. They go on to educate the community, and use their art to make a difference.

Click on the news stories below to find out more about our successful alumni family. For more alumni spotlights, events, and news stories, please visit the CARTANews website.

Isabel Moros '01, MFA '05Natalia Zuluaga '14Teresita Fernandez '90Jillian Mayer '07Aramis O’Reilly '89, '01Harumi Abe '08John Bailly '90Yolanda Sanchez '91Monica Lopez de Victoria '02Camila Alvarez '13 & Jesse Meadows '13

Written by: Camila Fernandez

FIU alumna and program director at the Brooklyn College Community Partnership (BCCP), Isabel Moros, ‘01, MFA, 05’ likes to create experiences for youth in the arts through holistic education.

She helps lead undergraduates from the Brooklyn College Psychology Department’s Service Learning class that works with inner-city middle school and high school students in afterschool programs. The programs include a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) approach the students might not have access to, in or out of school.

“The arts is in everything,” says Moros.

The federally funded programs provide academic support and hands-on creative projects with working artists in visual arts, wearable tech, fashion design, laser cutting, music technology, web design, filmmaking, yoga, and poetry. They are held at public school campuses and the Brooklyn College Arts Lab.

Her education in psychology as an undergraduate and photography and video as a graduate at FIU allowed her to implement valuable characteristics into the programs.

“It is a major accomplishment to survive from being a freelance artist to being able to work with artists in different capacities where they are a resource to young people,” says Moros, “I want them to see that there are a million pathways they can take and be successful and productive in life,” she says.

FIU alumna Isabel Moros, ‘01, MFA, 05’ is the Program Director at the Brooklyn College Community Partnership in New York.

The students are part of a working-class immigrant population from countries, such as Haiti, Jamaica, and Trinidad & Tobago, and attend schools with a graduation rate of about 59% and a poverty rate of 73.5%. Many have the opportunity to be first-generation college students, but often receive little encouragement to anything more than graduate high school.

The partnership offers meetings with college admissions counselors, faculty, and students, which can help connect them to higher education.

“We’re part of their support system,” says Moros, “They can come to the arts lab and explore things and have a sense of belonging there.”

Moros says it is crucial for the students to be exposed to resources that encourage them create solutions and think critically.   

“Innovation is experimentation and that’s exactly what FIU was like for me,” Moros says, “There was always a dialogue and a way to bring people together to create a community.”

She says FIU must continue to make education accessible to everyone to motivate young people in Miami to learn and grow so they are better prepared to expand the community.

Natalia Final

Image by: Camila Fernandez

Written by: Camila Fernandez

Artists from all over the world meet at Art Center South Florida, where alumna Natalia Zuluaga, ‘14 is the Center’s Artistic Director.

Zuluaga is a Miami-based curator and researcher, who graduated with an MFA in Visual Arts at FIU and an MA in Curatorial Studies from Bard College. As director, Zuluaga works with different components the organization counts on, like studio and live-work residencies, public programs and education.

“I came on board here at Art Center South Florida at a really interesting moment for the organization. It’s a moment when we’re re-imagining what kind of institution we want to be and how we can positively contribute to Miami,” said Zuluaga.

She said her favorite aspect of this endeavor has been to think about programs that will foster critical engagement and that encourage crosscutting dialogue between art, technology, science, history, urbanization and politics.

“Speaking about it, generally the aims seem so big and broad, but my hope is that we create opportunities for thinking, speaking and seeing Miami’s local and global complexities,” said Zuluaga.

Zuluaga first graduated from the University of Central Florida, where she received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science. Later she went on to work as a Curatorial Assistant at the former Miami Art Central (MAC) while beginning her studies at FIU.

At MAC, she began to look at exhibitions and programs as mediation and communication methods. She said it was then that her curiosity inspired her to pursue her career.

“Basically, I was annoyingly nosey – maybe I am still. I started off as a gallery assistant and during exhibition planning meetings, installation periods, public programs, I’d ask so many questions and just stick around. I was genuinely interested in how all of these pieces came together into a series of public moments.”

“My curiosity probably had a lot to do with a general concern with the way we put images to work; it was something I was trying to figure out in my own practice and research at the time. I also can’t underestimate how the generosity of the curators and colleagues I worked with then encouraged me to continue asking – it’s a kind of collaborative spirit I carry with me still.”

Besides developing new programming in her new capacity at Art Center South Florida, Zuluaga also works on a variety of collaborative curatorial and publishing projects, including [NAME] Publications, The Office of Applied Complexities (OfAC) and PDP/PLP (Miami).

“All these projects are ways to stay connected and contribute to multiple conversations and shifts in ‘art’; for me, it’s really important to maintain that. In many ways, these projects inform and supplement the way I think about my role at Art Center.”

Zuluaga said Miami is unique because of the challenges it faces with climate change, economic precarity and real-estate development. However, she said it is rewarding to work in a challenging metropolis.

“The fact that we have all of these cultures and languages is what makes Miami really special and at the same time what makes unifying what could be seen as a fragmented community a worthy challenge for any cultural practitioner or institution.”

“Miami is a node where people, information and things move in and out of, and I find it incredibly rewarding to work in this kind of place.”

Despite all her wonderful successes, Zuluaga believes she has not yet achieved her greatest professional accomplishment.

“I’m really proud of all the work I’ve done and the people who I’ve worked with, but I think I’m still working toward those ambitions.”

“Being part of shaping the future of an organization [Art Center] is an ambitious task, so I feel like I’ve got my plate full enough—and I’m quite happy about that.”

During her studies at FIU, Zuluaga said she enjoyed her film courses with Professor Emeritus, Manuel Torres and Art History Professor Juan Martinez.

“Manny exposed us to some really obscure material and really encouraged us to think about how our practice could engage with a variety of cultural forms. Juan’s art history surveys are still memorable—as were his slide reviews! I think the passion with which he taught stays with me still.”

Surrounded by different artists, Zuluaga concluded that everyone and everything is a creator.

“I think it’s not a question of whether or not we can create, innovate, or inspire: but to what ends and through what means. I think our current political climate is an interesting testament to that.”

FIU Alumni Teresita Fernandez to Receive Torch Award

gdfgOn Saturday March 23, 2013, CARTA alumni Teresita Fernández received a Distinguished Alumni Award at the 12th annual Torch Awards Gala.

The Distinguished Alumni Awards recognize alumni who have brought honor and distinction to the university through their notable record of service and achievement in a particular discipline, organization or cause.

Teresita was born in Miami and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from FIU with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1990. She is the recipient of a 2005 MacArthur Fellowship, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Biennial Award, an American Academy in Rome Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Artist’s Grant. In 2011, President Obama appointed Fernández to serve on the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, a federal panel that advises the president, Congress and governmental agencies on national matters of design and aesthetics.

Teresita is best known for her prominent public sculptures and unconventional use of materials. Her work is characterized by an interest in perception and the natural world. Diverse in materials and wide-ranging conceptually, Fernández creates experiential, large-scale works that are often inspired by landscape and place as well as diverse historical and cultural references.


Teresita Fernandez in W Magazine

dfghdfghdTeresita Fernandez (BFA 1990) was recently featured in a brief piece about her sense of personal style. The article is in the October 2012 issue of W Magazine or you can read it here on Lehmann Maupin’s page.

Jillian Mayer at the Guggenheim

In 2010 (BFA 2007) Jillian Mayer’s work was one of the 25 selections for the Guggenheim’s Youtube Play: A Biennial of Creative Video. As part of the Guggenheim’s Creative Video Biennial, the artist’s work was exhibited at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy; Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain; and Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Germany.


Meet the Artist Aramis O’Reilly

fsdfgsdfAramis O’Reilly received both his Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts in painting from FIU in 1989 and 2001, respectively. He is now an Associate Professor Senior at the New World School of the Arts where he is also the head of the college’s painting and drawing programs. He has shown internationally in both solo and group exhibitions for many years, his work is part of numerous public collections, and he has been commissioned for public art projects.

Aramis’s work has been an exercise in creating moments that describe the play between the acts of creation and the deeper forces of design with purpose. His recent body of work represents nature in a veil of abstraction and attempts to express the exuberance of life.

Meet the Artist: Harumi Abe

dfsgJapanese native artist and instructor, Harumi Abe, received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Miami International University of Arts and Design, and her Master of Fine Arts from FIU. Based in Hollywood, Florida, Harumi is an adjunct instructor at FIU and Broward College, as well as the gallery director of the Rosemary Duffy Larson Gallery at Broward College.

As an artist, she has displayed her work in many group and solo exhibitions at galleries and museums across South Florida including the David Castillo Gallery, Hollywood Art and Culture Center, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University, and the Leonard Tachmes Gallery. In addition to several private collections, her art is part of the Girls Club Collection, and the Arturo Mosquera Collection. She has received numerous grants and residencies including the 2008 South Florida Cultural Consortium for Visual and Media Artists, a full term artist residency at Art Center South Florida, and she will attend the Everglades Artist in Residence Program this summer.

The idea of home has been Harumi’s primary interest for a while. She states “The home is not just the physical construction in which we live, but more importantly, is a state of mind.” Her series of works titled 134 days and 21 hours exemplifies her own quest of “home”. Using bright color palettes, she paints semi-imaginary landscapes. She references the disaster that hit Japan on March 11, 2011, “We build houses with the hope of creating something new but mostly reinvent the familiar places that comfort us.” When trying to define home through imagery, she is strongly influenced by her homeland, Japan.

Meet the Artist:  John Bailly

sdfgsdfvJohn Bailly is an artist and Faculty Fellow at The Honors College at FIU. He received his Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) in painting from FIU and his Master of Fine Art (MFA) in painting and printmaking from Yale. His work has been exhibited at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, and many other galleries and museums in the U.S. As a faculty member at FIU , he has taught in France and Italy as part of the university’s Study Abroad program, and he founded the Aesthetics & Values course.

Aesthetics & Values is a course that spans over two semesters. It begins in the fall and ends with a student-curated exhibition in the spring. It is open to all students who are interested in contemporary art, and has received national recognition. Students (often with no background in art) are taught and challenged to organize all aspects of a museum exhibition on their own. As a class, they visit many art institutions in Miami including the Lowe Art Museum and Rubell Family Collection, and learn about the local art scene. Students often work in pairs and choose Miami-based artists to include in their exhibition. To qualify for selection, artists must have no current affiliation to FIU. Students form a working relationship with artists and exhibition preparation includes selecting artwork, fundraising for a catalog, writing a press release, and installing the exhibit themselves at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum. The current Aesthetics & Values exhibition is on display and well worth a visit!

John Bailly’s Cities series deals with the evolving nature of cities. It reflects the ideas and culture of its people. He is also currently exhibiting Place of Mind, a series of paintings and poems he completed with Richard Blanco, (the inaugural poet for President Obama’s second inauguration). The exhibition is organized in cooperation with the University of Maine Museum of Art and will travel to other museums nationwide. John Bailly and his work are represented by ClampArt, which is based in New York.

Meet the Artist: Yolanda Sanchez

dfhdfhAfter receiving her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1979, Yolanda Sánchez returned to school, obtaining a Bachelor in Fine Arts degree from FIU, followed by a Master in Fine Arts from Yale University in painting. Yolanda is a Fulbright scholar, completing her fellowship as a painter in Spain after she graduated from Yale. Her Fulbright project focused on four Spanish painters: El Greco, Goya, Miró and the abstract painter, Tàpies.

Yolanda Sánchez is a prominent figure in the Miami Dade art community. She has created and now manages the Fine Arts and Cultural Affairs division of the Miami-Dade Aviation Department, and also oversees the art program at Miami International Airport (MIA), which includes MIA Galleries, the Children’s Art Program, continuing temporary exhibitions, and collaborations with cultural groups and business partners. In addition, she acts as liaison and serves on the Professional Advisory Committee for the Miami Dade Art in Public Places program.

Yolanda now lives and works in Miami Beach. She is highly influenced by color, texture and light as she studies the natural landscape. Rather than painting exactly what she sees, she depicts a felt experience, a memory of or desire for the experience. Her paintings reference the physical world, literature and focus mainly on poetry, dance, calligraphy and Asian art. She hopes to engage the viewer in a sensory experience and to cause the viewer to seek a deeper meaning of the present. She has exhibited in numerous venues and her work is part of public collections at the Graham University Center at FIU, The Art Museum at FIU, and the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale.

Monica Lopez de Victoria of TM Sisters

dfgjfgj ghjkMonica Lopez de Victoria and sister, Tasha, collaborate under the name TM Sisters. Monica Lopez de Victoria, one of the TM Sisters, graduated with a BFA from FIU in 2002.They exhibit internationally and their work can be seen in many publications including The Miami Herald.

They were featured in the exhibit “Uncertain States of America: American Art in the 3rd Millennium” curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Daniel Birnbaum, and Gunnar B. Kvaran at the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo, Norway. This exhibit represented the “new generation” the “new trend” in young American art.

TM Sisters participated in Second Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art.

TM Sister Monica Lopez De Victoria made it to the cover of Artnews (2007) and received FIU’s Torch Award in February 2009.

Right to Wynwood

dgdsfgsdfgRecent FIU BFA graduates Camila Alvarez (Spring 2013) and Jesse Meadows (Spring 2013) and Natalie Edgar (UM) won top awards at the FIU Film Festival earlier this month for their film titled Right to Wynwood, earning them a spot at the 2013 Miami Short Film Festival in November. The film examines the effects of gentrification on the residents and earlier arts community in the burgeoning arts district.

The film will also be screened at the FIU Wolfsonian Museum on Miami Beach as part of a short-film festival on Friday, April 26th at 7pm. Details below.

Camila Alvarez (FIU BFA Spring 2013), Director/Producer
Jesse Meadows (FIU BFA Spring 2013), Director of Photography
Natalie Edgar (UM Alumna) Director/Director of Photography

Film Title: Right to Wynwood

Year: 2013

Runtime: 20 min app.

Producer: Camila Álvarez, BFA-FIU

Directors: Camila Álvarez, FIU/ Natalie Edgar, UM

Directors of Photography: Natalie Edgar, UM/ Jesse Meadows, BFA-FIU

Synopsis: Our project explores the causes and effects of gentrification in Wynwood. Through interviews with developers, gallerists, artists, community leaders, and members of the local Puerto Rican population, we seek to tell the story of how Wynwood went from Miami’s oldest Puerto Rican community to its largest art district, and what that means for the future of the neighborhood. We want people to be aware of the peculiar way in which the neighborhood was gentrified—one of them being the use of street art as a marketing tool. It’s a story about Miami in every way possible, from art to culture to economy to community. Our film is a documentation of a unique part of Miami’s history that just so happens to be in process right now. Though people have been calling Wynwood the ‘Soho of Miami’, we’ve discovered that this simply isn’t true, as gentrification in Wynwood occurred in a completely different way, with entirely different motives. We’ve also discovered that no one actually knows what really happened, have never heard the word gentrification in their lives, and for the most part are blissfully unaware of what has been going on in their own streets. Many people are exploring Wynwood, but no one is asking any of the questions that we are.