Best of southern art at festival

Florida A&M University will host the Artist In Bloom Festival at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Directed by Valencia Matthews, interim assistant dean of the college of arts and science, the event will celebrate the arts and African tradition.

Instead of having an Olympic-style festival, Matthews decided on opening the program more spiritually.

“I always like to do something that calls the spirit of the ancestors and pays homage,” Matthews said.

The festival opens with a selection from the Orchesis Contemporary Dance Theater.

“We chose a piece called Spirit Moved because it is upbeat and uplifting,” said Joan Burroughs, director of Orchesis Contemporary Dance Theater. “This will be an act the entire family can enjoy.”

And dancing is just one form of art that will be showcased during the opening program.

A ribbon cutting ceremony and dedication of a Frank Martin sculpture at the Humphries’ Science Research building will follow the dance performance.

Designer Frank Martin’s inspiration was to parallel art and science. “This sculpture is an embodiment of the relationship to the science and research facility through the merger of art and science,” Martin said.

The opening ceremony will continue with an optional tour of artwork on campus.

“A van will be provided to take all interested people around the campus,” said Kenneth Falana, professor of art.

“We’ve collected one of the best contemporary art collections in the South. Art is a very important aspect of a well-rounded education and our goal is to create a rich variety of artistic expressions.”

Matthews anticipates good weather and a crowd of more than 7,500 people. She said this type of event is something that the university needs and will look forward to each year.

“We want people to come out and bring blankets and enjoy the whole day with us,” Matthews said. “This day is not about speeches or being formal; it is about having fun and appreciating culture.”

Juanita Jubity can be reached at