Global initiative expands opportunities for students of contemporary art

By Andrea Perez

The Art Academy of Latvia (LMA) and FIU’s Art + Art History Department have forged a new education initiative for students pursuing degrees in the contemporary art world.

The global partnership – led by Aleksejs Naumovs and Kristaps Zariņš of LMA – all began with a conversation between institutions.

“It started with a simple Skype session,” explained Zariņš. “Jacek Kolasiński [chair of FIU ‘s Art Department] and our team briefly discussed the plethora of opportunities between our institutions and decided to move forward and turn those chances into something tangible.”

One of these initiatives was a recent visit to the LMA Riga campus in Latvia for an art showcase, public critique and panel discussion held for five days. The showcase featured numerous foreign experts from several educational institutions – including Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Azerbaijan Start Art Academy and FIU, which was represented by Art + Art History Chair and Associate Professor Jacek J. Kolasiński and Professor William ‘Bill’ Burke.

“It’s extremely important for our students to be truly global and gain an international perspective of the contemporary art world. This partnership with Latvia allows us to develop a platform that fosters an international dialogue between artists and academics,” Kolasiński said.

During the visit, Burke conducted three lectures for students and faculty of the academy. Each day, he engaged in an insightful conversation about different art disciplines, art practices and curatorial activities.

LMA and FIU faculty at En Plein Air’s opening reception

In addition to the cultural coalition, LMA and FIU collaborated on a four-day long painting workshop last month. Naumovs and Andris Vītoliņš, head of LMA’s painting department, conducted a series of live painting sessions at Modesto A. Maidique Campus, Biscayne Bay Campus and the historic Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. Additional participants included alumni Guido Mena ’17 and Eddie Arroyo ’01 as well as adjunct faculty.

The large scale, landscape paintings inspired by subtropical scenery are part of an international exhibit titled En Plein Air, curated by Burke. The exhibition is currently on display at FIU’s Miami Beach Urban Studios, Washington Gallery; it’s free and open to the public.

Next semester, Burke and Kolasiński plan to return to Latvia to hold a workshop for 10 LMA graduate students and put together an exhibit and installation that includes students’ work.

Professor Burke giving a lecture at LMA in Riga, Latvia

“Accolades to Aleksejs, Kristaps and the LMA departments of art and design. It was warming to be in a setting where the program nurtures and fosters cohabitation between studios and disciplines,” Burke said. “That’s why I proposed including graduate students in this exhibition – to offer them an opportunity to display their work in an international, cross-disciplinary setting.”

To read more about the exhibition and partnership, click here.