A&V 2018 Student Perspective


“They’re not art majors.”

I have heard John Bailly say this to many representatives of each place this class has explored, from the Margulies Collection to the Deering Estate. The fact that the students of Aesthetics & Values (A&V) come from all disciplines is just one of the things that makes this course so hybrid. In this case, that hybridity is also what made this class one of the most rewarding I have ever taken at FIU.

We spend the first weeks learning about art and how it has transformed with every decade. Students are urged to question what art really is as they explore Monet’s snapshot-like impressionism, Picasso’s abstraction, and Duchamp’s challenging statements.

“A&V gave me a way to formulate my own opinions about art. I was able to see beyond just a painting or sculpture by learning to appreciate the struggles of an artist, whether I enjoyed their artwork or not,” said Katerina Cutie, a Psychology major.

We moved from seeing famous pieces on the projector of a classroom to experiencing art in person. Together, the class dove into the art world, hearing lectures at some of Miami’s most prominent cultural landmarks like Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. These excursions prepared us slowly to go from being the spectators to the curators of our own show.  

Liliana Fonte, a Broadcast Media/Entrepreneurship student, shared, “To me, A&V was more about learning about my community and the history surrounding me than anything else… This past year I didn’t just learn about art. I learned more about my city’s history in one year than what I had learned in the past 20 years

In the middle of our Spring semester, we were hit with the bombshell news that after 11 years in the running, ours would be the last A&V exhibition. But by then this class was for much more than a grade, and this obstacle only pushed us to do even better. Fonte added, “As soon as I realized it was the last year of A&V, I know that a spark ignited in myself and my classmates to try to make the event extra special.”

So we did. We made 3D models of what the exhibition should look like. Over 50 restaurants were contacted to vend at our reception, and students learned countless new lessons about graphic design as they created poster after poster for social media.

Jacqueline Martinez at the A&V 2018 reception (Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)

All these efforts made the final Aesthetics & Values reception a final bang we will never forget. Most importantly, though, we learned to work together despite any differences we had.

Biology student Natalie Brunelle was genuine when she told me, “I learned that sometimes things need to fall apart to get better, visions need to be shared and discussed and that there are more than two ways to solve a problem. Letting cards fall into place and having faith in that is a scary thing to allow when planning events, but the world has a way of working itself out. Though troubles presented themselves, I’ve made close friendships with many of the class members, and nothing made me happier than to see the reactions of people the day of the event.”

“When the big day finally came, it felt so surreal to see two semesters of work happen in 3 hours,” said Barbara Sanchez, a Sociology major. “Knowing I helped create something as grand as this event and hearing how much others enjoyed it brings me immense pride. Now that it’s over, I realize how lucky I am to have been part of the last A&V class and to have made friends with the people in it.”

I believe all the students of A&V can agree with Brunelle when she expresses that because of our hard work, “We would not only leave a legacy behind, but were also the  catalyst for a new generation of collaborations in the art world and Miami community.”

Jacqueline Martinez is a sophomore at Florida International University. She is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in English Writing and Rhetoric, along with a minor in Art History. An avid francophile and animal lover, she enjoys spending her free time practicing French, and playing with her four dogs. During Summer of 2018, she will be participating in the France Study Abroad Program led by Professor Bailly.

Stephanie Sepúlveda & John William Bailly  23 April 2018

Author: John William Bailly

Professor/Painter/Study Abroad Faculty Director FIU Honors College

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