Two FAMU Faculty Members Take Top Honors At Art In Gadsden Exhibition

Two Florida A&M University (FAMU) faculty members took top honors in the 31st Art in Gadsden Exhibition. 

Valerie Goodwin, an award-winning mixed media fiber artist who produces cartographic, architectural, and abstract quilts, won first place, while Harris Wiltsher won Best of Show at the 31st Art in Gadsden Exhibition.  

Goodwin is a registered architect and associate professor in the School of Architecture and Engineering Technology. She is interim director of Programs in Architecture, where she does administrative duties, creative activity, and teaching. 

Her winning entry “Cartographic Collage IV” is from a series she created while on sabbatical from FAMU. She combined traditional quilting and cutting-edge technology using the laser cutter in the School of Architecture to create fiber art. 

“I was trying to create maps collaging places and architectural drawings as if they were maps that coexist somewhere in an imaginary space,” Goodwin said of her winning entry. “Quilts can be more than what you imagine when you think of traditional quilts. They can express ideas.” 

Wiltsher is the program administrator for the Florida Art in State Buildings Program, professor and gallery director at FAMU. “Blue Crown,” which won Best in Show, is a silkscreen print and is part of the “Crown Series” that “celebrates the beauty of black aesthetic and the vibrancy of color as an outcome through the beauty of skin tones and African inspired fabrics,” Wiltsher said.

The series began in 2018 with inspiration from previous artwork some years ago and was featured in his solo exhibition “Harris Wiltsher: Visual Conversations” at the Union Bank Gallery, Tallahassee from Nov. 1, 2018 – Feb. 28, 2019. 

“The position of my work is to provide a cultural and or educational meaning to dialogue with my audience and document my personal experiences with the framework of the African Diaspora,” Wiltsher said. “My focus is to broaden the scope of my viewpoint. This is emphasized through my return to tactile art forms like collages to discuss recent tensions in the United States.”