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Maria Sonia Martin Visual Artist                    
* Press Page 6
* Press Page 6
Maria Sonia Martin Graduation Class photo, Bachelor of Fine Art candidates, Florida International University, Miami, Florida  December, 1986
April, 1986 The Art Museum (The Frost Art Museum) at Florida International University
Richard Duncan:  Artist, Art Professor Florida International University, Miami, Florida An excellent artist and unforgettable art professor. His own works focus on drawing, printmaking (subjects he taught) as well as mixed media works. As a professor, he conducted no nonsense (from art students) courses in which hard work was the call of the day... thank you! He was extremely generous with his superb knowledge of art and a tremendously inspirational mentor.  Mr. Duncan is a very well read man in the field of art. This fact allowed him to verbally teach the subject, which is a visual concept, masterfully.  He conducted biweekly critiques of the student’s projects in which he said nothing, until all students had participated in the critique of their own and that of their fellow artist’s work.  This developed his student’s self-critical thinking, something so very important for an artist. Through his well planned educational strategies, he also instilled in his students the value of the everyday artistic output.  I studied drawing and figure drawing with Mr. Duncan.  It was in one of his classes that I created the artwork that won the above aforementioned mentioned award, which award placed my work in the permanent art collection of the Frost Art Musuem at Florida International University.  He stated often this wonderful truth:  “You have to be one to know one...”
James (Jim) Couper:  Artist, Art Professor Florida International University, Miami, Florida James (Jim) Couper is a wonderful artist, highly recognized for his work in paintings portraying the Florida Everglades.  His personal ongoing work has focused for many years on environmental issues as well as on an intense survey of the beauty in nature.  As an art professor, he instilled in his students the concept of sensitivity and poetry in our work.  Mr. Couper’s most important underlying aim was always to develop each student’s individual personal expression or style.  He could ‘see’ beyond what the student could not yet ‘see’ and his finesse in guiding a student to that personal expression is conmemorable.  To his students, he also brought to light the need for continual art education in an artist’s life.  As an example, Mr. Couper systematically organized and accompanied annual student trips to renowned national art institutions in order for the students to acquire habits that fostered such a need.  He is the art professor responsible for instilling in me the unquenchable desire to see the world’s great visual art collections. Mr. Couper addressed, and taught as well,the business aspect of art, always pressing for a well-rounded preparedness necessary for a career in art.  During my student days at Florida International University, Mr. Couper was the department chairman and my main art professor.  Thank you, Jim, I am forever grateful and indebted for all your guidance and good will.
Richard Duncan and I at my exhibition at the Coral Gables Museum, September 2, 2016
Ralph Buckley:  Artist, Art Professor  (RIP) Florida International University, Miami, Florida Mr. Ralph Buckley was an excellent, high energy sculptor and art professor, he was temperamental as they come, but only for the right reasons.  He expected excellence from his students, just as he himself delivered excellence in what he offered in art education. During my days as an art student at Florida International University, Mr. Ralph Buckley  was the sculpture professor.  Although my major was painting, I enrolled in a selection of his classes.  At first, I enrolled in his figure sculpture classes, but later enrolled in his general sculpture classes as well. With Mr. Buckley, an art student always knew exactly where he or she stood in reference to artistic accomplishment. He told it as it was..., and I respected him for that. He fostered in his students independence, allowing for students to develop their own unique capabilities, providing the ‘space’ for the student’s individual growth through self reliance.  With Mr. Buckley as the art professor, students were totally independent to develop sculptures in whatever medium they chose.  He was always there to assist in the technical aspects of the materials at hand, but only after the student’s own capabilities were exhausted. In 2011, many years after I had graduated from Florida International University, I returned as a non-degree seeking student, just so that I could take one more class with him.  Thank you so much, Raph, for so many things.  You rest in peace, I will always miss you.      
Bachelor of Fine Art Degree (High Honors) Florida International University 1986 Attended 1983 - 1986:  Associate in Art Degree Miami Dade Community College 1983 Attended 1971 - 1983: 
Marsha Murray:  Artist, Art Professor  (RIP) Miami Dade Community College, Miami, Florida Ms. Marsha Murray was primarily a printmaker and taught the subject at Miami Dade Community College.  She was also one of those art professors that will always live in my heart.  If kindness can be personified, she would be an example.  Ms. Murray saw beauty where not many others did, and inspired her students to seek such beauty, even in the so called dark places.  As an art instructor, she had a relaxed, peaceful and quiet approach when teaching her subject matter.  She was also very much hands on as the technical aspect of printmaking is very demanding.  Ms. Murray inspired her student’s trust and confidence in their own abilities to create something beautiful.  She created the harmonious environment that fosters creativity.  She also encouraged much experimentation as she patiently awaited many positive triumphs in her student’s work.  I personally completed my own series in aquatint intaglio etchings under her guidance. I also had her as an instructor for figure drawing courses, during my earlier years at Miami Dade Community College. Thank you again, Marsha, for your loving guidance, as well as the faith and freedom you bestowed on us, your students. May you rest in peace.
John Kokko:  Artist, Art Professor  (RIP) Miami Dade Community College, Miami, Florida Mr. John Kokko was my very first art professor during the earliest years of my art education.  A graduate of Kent State University, he was one of a kind, an eccentric individual and one of the most fabulous art professors I have ever had. Much to their loss, he was never fully understood by the established educational system. He was an idealist who never compromised his values.  As a result, he was never offered tenure, returned to his hometown and died in obscurity.  Sometimes, this the price a real artist pays for their own unconventional beliefs. I studied drawing and figure drawing under his guidance.  Besides his continual instruction in all aspects of the compositional elements of art, he taught truth.  He inspired me to seek my own truths as an individual, as I observed the world that revolved around me.  This he taught his students as a necessity in developing what would become our own individual form of expression.  What I value most about this professor was his ability to relate to each student as an adult.  It was never a professor-student relationship. It was an adult-adult educational relationship.  As a student, fresh out of high school, it was inspirational for me and I responded as an adult.  Early on, Mr. Kokko instilled in me to have confidence in my work, a belief that allowed me to weather the many storms that have been barriers in my life as a student and an artist.   I am forever grateful for that.  I will admire him always for all that he was. Thank you so very much, John, may your spirit rest in peace for eternity.  
I first attended Miami Dade Community College-North Campus during the early 70’s.   During those days, the art faculty staff (shown above) was made up by some art professors that would eventually become highly recognized artists.  I was a student of some of these faculty members as well.  Below are the names of some of the faculty members shown above. Front row:  1st from left: Elmer Craig, Ceramist - I participated in a couple of his classes (1982) 2nd from left: Bob Thiele, Sculpture, mixed media works - I participated in one of his classes for a short period of time (1983) 5th from left: Duane Hanson, Sculptor Back row: 1st from left: Marsha Murray, Printmaker (I participated in two of her printmaking classes in 1982) 3rd from left: Salvatore LaRosa, Painter 4th from left: Shirley Henderson, Painter 6th from left:  Louise Romeo, Mixed media works (I participated in two courses she taught:  required courses art design 101 and art design 102, years 1971 and 1972.          
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