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Gallery Conversations

Article by Elizabeth King, Gallery Interpretation and Public Programs Manager

I had the pleasure of interviewing María Rogal, UF Professor of Graphic Design and Heidi Powell, UF Assistant Professor of Art Education to discuss aspects of their work on view in the 53rd SA+AH  Studio Faculty Art Exhibition. Be sure to join them for their Gallery Conversation on September 12 at Museum Nights.

Below: (left) Mira=Look by María Rogal and (right) Friendship Circle by Heidi Powell


Can you share something about your process or sources of inspiration that may be surprising to readers?

María Rogal: The title of my work, Mira=Look, is a literal translation from Spanish to English. It reflects my process as a maker and is an invitation/instruction to look at the work. For me, it is also an exercise in learning to look and to embrace everyday life. While one could learn to look anywhere, I keep returning to the Yucatán peninsula…studying culture there aids my design practice working with Mexicans, including Indigenous entrepreneurs, makers and academics. Mira=Look is an ongoing project that is heavily influenced by knowledge from the people I work with and informed by cultural anthropology, ethnographic methods, tourism studies and horizontal methods.

Heidi Powell: My process really comes from the idea of repetitive memory, where in our mind we stitch together storied experiences that don’t always come from the same place or time, but begin to flow together to create a new collaged story. We move and are constantly re/connecting from one thing to next, or one person to another and we get to relive or revisit connectivity through memory. The materials— in this case, handmade shoes—suggest temporality and movement, connection and reconnection. The handmade shoes take time to consider, revealing personalities of individuals, or the idea of individuals. It’s portraiture through object making.



What are some questions you encourage audiences to consider when viewing your work?

María Rogal: What are different experiences that comprise everyday life? What are these stories and how might we listen to them?

Heidi Powell: What is it made of and why use that material? What is the work saying to me? How do I relate to it?


What does it mean to be affiliate faculty in the Center for Latin American Studies? What role does the Center play in your art, teaching and/or research?

María Rogal: Since much of my work is situated in or about Mexico, the Center has served as a natural place to connect with a vibrant and interdisciplinary community of experts. By supporting my work in Mexico, student engagement, collaborations and exchanges, there is a flow of knowledge creation and dissemination circulating through the center that benefits UF and beyond. I am grateful to the center for playing such a key role in this.

Heidi Powell: It’s like being part of a beautiful constellation of people that bridge the gap between Latin America and what we hope to bring out in our disciplines, revealing culture and the unique and hidden ways of knowing about others that should be visible. The Center has provided funding for the research I do in Guatemala, such as a research residency exploring the kites of Sumpango, cobbling in Pastores, and alfombras in Antigua; [and supported] my undergraduate students with a Research Tutorial Abroad Award to explore arts and entomology, arts and sustainability, and arts and architecture to engage interdisciplinarity in research practice.


How will you use this exhibition in your classes? How have you used Harn exhibitions and collections in your classes in the past?

María Rogal: As a graphic designer, educator and human, I find it both interesting and valuable to learn about the many contexts and ways of being in the world. With this exhibition and others, I am interested in sharing the issues and ideas presented, the diversity of viewpoints, and ways of articulating them through art and design.

Heidi Powell: I teach online so the Harn exhibition space is usually used when my students come to UF [for] Summer Studios. This fall 2019 we are trying a remote drop-in Virtual Exchange, a great opportunity to pilot arts and technology integration for pedagogical growth.