Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College Receives National Endowment for the Arts Grant

The Polk Museum of Art and Florida Southern College are pleased to announce they have received an Arts Engagement in American Communities Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. 

The grant will help support the “Sad Tropics: Visiting Artists’ Exhibition & Education Project” that will take place at FSC’s Melvin and Burks Galleries. Sad Tropics is a large, site-specific installation piece designed by artists Cristina Molina and Jonathan Traviesa, who will be in Lakeland to install the work on view Sept. 21 through Nov. 2.  

As Florida natives and New Orleans residents, Molina and Traviesa were inspired to create their multimedia exhibition by reflecting on their Florida roots, observing images along their roundtrip drives to visit family in Lakeland, researching Florida’s history and tropical paradise mythology, and naming their project in homage to Claude Levi-Strauss’ book title “Tristes Tropiques.” Through photographic murals, videos and a gift shop installation, the artists’ work celebrates and critiques the eccentricities of the Floridian aspiration.   

Multiple education programs are planned to coincide with the exhibition that will engage FSC art students in the installation process. Programs include a gallery talk and tour for Polk County sixth-12 grade students and parents led by Dr. Alex Rich on Oct. 5; Sad Tropics Artists’ Talk on Nov. 1; and an artists Sseminar for FSC students and faculty on Nov. 2. All programs will be open to the public free-of-charge and will be held at the FSC Melvin and Burks Galleries. 

“We are very excited about receiving national recognition and grant support from the NEA for our Florida Southern College collaborative Sad Tropics project,” said PMA Executive Director Claire Orologas. “It has been quite some time since the Polk Museum of Art has been awarded an NEA grant and it makes it even more special that these funds are supporting an exhibition designed by two Florida-born artists.”  

According to FSC President Dr. Anne Kerr, “Our students and faculty are looking forward to participating in this NEA grant-funded exhibition and education project. It will enrich our entire Florida Southern College and Polk County community, and raise our Polk Museum of Art affiliation to a higher level of nationwide recognition.”