Honors College students learn the art of curation

A&V students like Michelle Ozaeta (in black dress) led tours of the exhibit the opening night

Michelle Ozaeta (in black dress) led tours of the exhibit on opening night April 4 at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum.

To blur the lines and bridge the gap between art and the rest of the world, that is the goal of the Honors College’s Aesthetics and Values class. Students in the 2016 class experienced an unforgettable journey, from chatting with professional artists over lunch and visiting their workshops to fundraising and budgeting for an art exhibit.

The year-long class in which students become curators of their own art exhibit is a student favorite and a growing tradition at FIU. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the exhibit offered students the experience of a lifetime.

“It changed my life,” junior international relations and political science double major Kamila Manzueta says. “It made me realize there’s so much more behind art. We learned how to appreciate art not because it looks pretty, but because of the meaning behind it. In a way, you become a more well-rounded person –– you learn how to put yourself in other people’s shoes.”

Manzueta, the director and founder of the Honors College acapella group HEARTbeats, says the experience has also helped her grow as a singer and poet.

“Through this class, you develop a different perspective. You can say I’m an artist, but what does it mean, what does it consist of? It’s the whole package,” Manzueta explains. “It’s made me think as an artist, why do I do what I do? I look differently at what I do. I find it my goal to evoke emotion, instead of just singing a song. We’re all artists, whether visual or performing, and we all want to tell our story.”

Before taking the class, junior art major Valerie Villa only saw herself as an artist physically producing artwork, but thanks to the class and exhibit, she found a new passion and career path.

“[At the opening ceremony] I was talking to my family and doing the tours in Spanish [for them], talking to others about what they think about art,” she says. “Being in this class has helped me realize, I’d much prefer to be behind-the-scenes talking to people about other people’s art –– that’s what I want to wake up every day to do. That’s what gets me going, that’s where in the art world I fit in.”

She says she’s opening up to the possibility of becoming a professor in the future. For now, she plans to pursue internships at art galleries.

A&V exhibit collage 2

Passer-bys check out Brookheart Jonquill's In a Perfect World I, composed of four mirrors arranged in a diamond shape.

Top row: Randy Burman’s work, which students call the “snake” (left) and Brookhart Jonquil’s “Cathedral” (right). Bottom row: Passers-by check out Jonquill’s “In a Perfect World (I),” composed of four mirrors arranged in a diamond shape.


FIU employee Simone Worsdale ’10 fell in love with the class during her undergraduate years. She says the A&V experience fosters students’ teamwork skills and sense of personal responsibility.

“If you’re not responsible, it’s going to fall apart. A&V is a microcosm of your real-life job. It’s the equivalent of an internship.” she says.

Juan Brizuela ’13 believes that taking the class prepared him for his first full-time job. He recalls maintaining the website for the exhibit in class and being able to show samples of that work at his job interview.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Brizuela says. “At the moment, I just thought, ‘I’m doing this as an assignment for a class’. Now I’m the media and marketing coordinator [for FIU Art + Art history and Architecture].”

Perhaps just gathering the community together to unite people around art, Professor John Bailly says, is the most important aspect of the class. “That’s magic.”

Maybe it’s art too.

The Aesthetics and Values 2016 Exhibit  is presented by FIU Alumni Association and External Relations and will be on display at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum until May 1.

Artists whose work is featured in this year’s exhibit include Randy Burman, Westen Charles, Clifton Childree, Brookhart Jonquil, Barron Sherer, Magnus Sodamin, Alex Trimino, Michael Vasquez and Agustina Woodgate.