New Global Education Initiative by FIU Art + Art History Department and the Art Academy of Latvia


The Art Academy of Latvia (LMA) in collaboration with Florida International University’s Art + Art History Department have forged a new global education initiative for students pursuing degrees in the contemporary art world.

This international partnership, led by Rector, Aleksejs Naumovs, and Vice Rector, Kristaps Zariņš of the Art Academy of Latvia (LMA), all began with a dialogue between both institutions.

“Our pilot project coincided with the Latvian Presidency of the European Council. It started with a simple Skype conversation,” explained Vice Rector, Zariņš, “Jacek and our team briefly discussed the plethora of opportunities between of 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 for an art showcase, public critique and panel discussion held throughout five days. The showcase featured numerous foreign experts from several educational institutions including Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Azerbaijan Start Art Academy and Florida International University. FIU 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,” said Kolasiński.

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

In addition to the LMA and FIU cultural coalition, both entities have collaborated on a four-day long painting workshop last month. Rector Neumovs and head of LMA’s painting department, Andris Vītoliņš, visited Miami and conducted a series of live painting sessions at FIU’s Modesto Maidique Campus, Biscayne Bay Campus and the historic, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. Additional participants included Guido Mena (FIU BFA ’17), adjunct faculty and Eddie Arroyo (FIU BFA ’01).

The large scale, landscape paintings inspired by the subtropical scenery are part of an international exhibit entitled, En Plein Air, curated by Burke. The exhibition is currently on display at FIU’s Miami Beach Urban Studios.

Next semester, Professor Burke and Kolasiński plan to return to Latvia to continue the project by conducting a workshop for ten LMA graduate students from various departments and exhibiting an installation accompanied by student’s work.

Burke expressed his gratitude to the LMA team and the students of the academy.

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

Both Naumovs and Zariņš , have played an instrumental role in the creation of this transatlantic, multi-faceted initiative. A ‘Worlds Ahead’ partnership that allows both institutions to exchange ideas and projects to further the cultural perspective of FIU and LMA students.

To read more about the partnership, please click here.

En Plein Air is currently on display at FIU’s Miami Beach Urban Studios, Washington Gallery.

FIU College of Communication, Architecture + the Arts | Miami Beach Urban Studios | 420 Lincoln Road Miami Beach, FL 33139 | Free and Open to Public

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