This site is no longer active. Please visit to view the current website.

College News

UF Panel Series Highlights Artists Promoting Better Communities, Healthier Environment

This panel discussion will highlight Gainesville artists as agents of aesthetics to address civic concerns through publicly-engaged scholarship. The artists, of varying disciplines, will share how their works bring attention to issues of humans, health, and communities. Artists bring a special and unique perspective to these issues that other professionals cannot. This program is sponsored by the UF College of Fine Arts in Celebration of the Morrill Act Sesquicentennial Anniversary and UF's membership in Imagining America. 

Panel Three: Artists On Sustaining Humans, Health and Communities
Tuesday, Nov. 27, 6:30 p.m., free
Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art
Featured panelists: Jill Sonke, Gaby Hernández, Don DeVito, Brenda Smith, Maria Rogal
Moderated by Andy Howard
University of Florida President Bernie Machen is chair for the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities' celebration of the Morrill Act's sesquicentennial anniversary.  One hundred and fifty years ago on July 2, 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Land-grant Act which provided grants of land to each state to establish a public college to teach agriculture, the mechanical arts and humanites to the sons and daughters of the working classes.  The University of Florida is one such college.  The institution's colleges and departments are echoing Machen's leadership with programming that emphasizes UF's many contributions to the lives of citizens of the state of Florida.
The UF College of Fine Arts has organized a three-part panel series which features artists speaking about their projects related to publicly-engaged scholarship which, according to Imagining America, is "defined by partnerships of university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research, creative activity and public knowledge; enhance curriculum, teaching and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address and help solve critical social problems; and contribute to the public good."  Another initiative of President Machen, UF is a member of Imagining America, a consortium of universities and organizations dedicated to advancing the public and civic purposes of humanities, arts and design.  
The three-part series features artist-presenters grouped by projected themes:  water resource concerns; vanishing resources and climate concerns; and sustaining humans, health and communities.  The artists, selected from UF's ranks of faculty, alumni and guest artists, will share their projects and respond to overall themes of publicly-engaged scholarship and arts/humanities as knowledge and field questions from the audience and other featured panelists.  All panels are free and open to the public.  
Bios:  Artist-presenters
Dr. Brenda Smith teaches studio voice, diction and vocal pedagogy. She has been widely recognized for her contributions to the concept of lifelong singing through proper voice care. Dr. Smith is a lyric soprano with special interests in the recital and concert repertoire. 
Dr. Smith works regularly as consultant, clinician and conductor with amateur and professional choirs throughout the world. 
Dr. Smith collaborates regularly with Dr. Robert Thayer Sataloff, implementing projects to promote vocal health through the choral experience. A frequent presenter at the International Symposium on the Care of the Professional Voice, sponsored by the Voice Foundation, Dr. Smith is the author with Dr. Sataloff of the textbook, Choral Pedagogy, now in its second edition, published by Plural Publishing Co. (San Diego, CA, 2006). The book is the only text exclusively devoted to the relationship between vocal pedagogy, choral conducting and voice science. 
Dr. Smith also leads the Sing for Life program in the Center for Arts in Medicine. The program seeks to achieve strategies for lifelong singing for Parkinson's patients and their care givers. The classes include exercises for relaxation, posture, breathing and resonance. The work helps to increase vocal strength and stamina and to enhance general well-being.
Dr. Donald DeVito is the music director of the Sidney Lanier Center which accommodates students with disabilities between the ages of 3 and 22 and he teaches online courses at Boston University. DeVito is the 2010-2012 chair of the International Society for Music Education Community Music Activity (CMA) Commission. He was the 2010 National CEC Teacher of the Year in the United States for the field of special education. 
He organized DISCOVERING ABILITIES, a performance that linked his students with ISME (International Society for Music Education) CMA (Community Music Activity) practitioners and researchers from multiple countries in an inclusive performance in Carnegie Hall in New York. The results of this project were presented at the 1st Community Music Education Summit at the China Conservatory of Music in Beijing in 2011. 
Other published research includes, "The Communicative Function of Behavioral Responses to Music: A Precursor to Assessment for Students with Autism" in the 2nd International Symposium for Assessment in Music Education and "Pathways to Community Music Inclusion: Children with Disabilities in College Jazz Ensembles" with Dr. Steven Bingham. 
DeVito has presented workshops and paper publications at the ISME (International Society for Music Education) conferences in Spain, Singapore, Malaysia, Italy, China and Greece. DeVito organized the first inclusive music performance in the 2012 China music festival with past ISME (International Society for Music Education) board member Phil Mullen and has published chapters on the topic of special education in the arts in several books. He is on the editorial review board of Research Perspectives in Music Education.
Jill Sonke is Director of the Center for the Arts in Medicine at the University of Florida, is on the faculty of the School of Theatre and Dance and is Assistant Director and Artist in Residence with Shands Arts in Medicine (AIM). 
The Center for the Arts in Medicine is committed to advancing research, education, and practice in the arts in healthcare, locally and globally. The Center facilitates research and scholarship in the arts in healthcare by providing support for studies by individual researchers as well as affecting its own studies. Its research goals include expansion of the current body of research in the field, development of appropriate measurement tools, and the facilitation of related research throughout the nation. 
The Center strives to expand the current inventory of coursework related to the arts and health offered by various departments and colleges throughout the University of Florida. It provides the most up to date education and training in the field and work to serve as a model for arts in healthcare education, training and continuing education worldwide. The Center currently offers eleven courses, two certificates, and three annual summer intensive training programs. The Center undertakes local and global outreach through study abroad courses, service-learning programs, and cultural exchanges. 
Jill studied dance at Interlochen Arts Academy, Florida State University and in London, Paris and Athens. She has been a principle dancer and soloist with Lori Belilove & Company in New York and a guest performer and choreographer with Dance Alive! and Stuart Pimsler Dance and Theatre. She is a soloist and regisseur (AKA theatrical director) of the historic works of Isadora Duncan as well as a recognized teacher of the Duncan and Horton techniques.  
Jill is the recipient of a New Forms Florida Fellowship Award, an Individual Artist Fellowship Award from the State of Florida, a 2001 Excellence in Teaching Award from the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD), a UF Internationalizing the Curriculum Award, a Most Outstanding Service Learning Faculty Award and over 85 grant awards for her programs and research at the University of Florida and Shands Teaching Hospital and Clinics.
Gaby Hernández is a multidisciplinary graphic designer and researcher. She has professional and academic experience in design research, information design, ethnography, mass communication, marketing, and audiovisual and print production. 
Gaby graduated with a Master in Fine Arts in Graphic Design, at the University of Florida in May 2011. Her MFA Creative Project explored ways to visualize the story of the Women’s Association of Chira Island, Costa Rica, through time, space, and voice. 
Gaby believes that graphic design can change people’s life, leverage social change and development, and support entrepreneurship. It is a discipline that can improve systems, information, and the way we communicate. It also employs a good story as anchor to encourage empathy and concentrates in the end-user and its context.
Maria Rogal is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Florida where she has been teaching since 1997. Her trans-cultural background and perspective influences her work, which focuses on the relationship between culture and design and how we can leverage the potential of design, broadly defined, to positively shape the human experience.
Rogal was awarded a Fulbright-García Robles Scholar grant (2006–2007) and a Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad grant (2007) to conduct research in the Yucatán region of Mexico and teach in the Social Communication program at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán ( During this time she led the development of the identity, information design projects, and comprehensive website for the department of immigration for INDEMAYA (Instituto para el Desarrollo de la Cultura Maya) for Yucatán state. It was through these projects that she met people living in marginalized communities and began to focus on ways to apply design for socio-economic development. She also expanded on earlier design research in Mexico by creating the Design for Development (D4D) initiative in which graphic design students and faculty work with artisans, farmers, and organizers in Maya communities to explore ways design processes and products, and designers, can foster local development projects. 
Rogal continues to conduct the majority of her research in Mexico, where she explores and analyzes the visual representation of indigenous cultures; works on entrepreneurial projects with indigenous cooperatives; and develops design materials and products with indigenous people in rural communities to aid in demystifying and breaking down stereotypes. Her projects are interdisciplinary and she uses design as a conduit to work in areas of intercultural communication, cultural anthropology, environmental ecology, technology, globalization, entrepreneurship, and sustainability. 
Rogal received her MFA in Design and Visual Communication from Virginia Commonwealth University where her research focused on design, popular culture, and social responsibility. She received a BA in Political Science and History from Villanova University. She has worked as a senior designer for Sapient (Atlanta) on the design of large-scale websites for international clients, including the Dutch bank ING and at other design and marketing firms in the US.


Please upgrade your browser to the latest version
or disable compatibility view for a better
viewing experience.