The Department of Art is proud to announce that Mark Messersmith has received the honorary title of Professor Emeritus. The title reflects the university’s respect for his distinguished career of 35 years as both a valued faculty member and accomplished professional in his field. The designation is conferred after recommendation by the academic dean, support by the department and college, and approval by the President. Professor and Chair of the Department of Art, Lilian Garcia-Roig says,
Since I stepped foot on the FSU campus back in 2000, it was clear that Mark was considered an outstanding painter and teacher, respected by both faculty and students. His resume includes a highly prestigious Joan Mitchel Foundation Grant in Painting, a Ford Foundation fellowship, an NEA-Southern Arts Federation Fellowship, and four Florida Individual Artists Fellowships. With over fifteen solo shows, mostly in museums, and an ever-growing number of works in museum permanent collections, he continues to be recognized as an outstanding national artist. His work featuring large, colorful paintings are a window into an alternating North Florida environment- whether a real and/or imaginary vision, the aim is to reflect the beauty and vulnerability of the landscape and wildlife in the area.
His influence is far-reaching and empowering for students across multiple programs.
Mark Messersmith is a mentor, teacher, and a true friend that I can say has truly made a long- lasting impact upon my life and my work as an artist. Mark’s style of teaching is gentle and encouraging while also being one that challenges you to think beyond yourself. Mark is a very genuine person that is truly present and engaged in his interactions, you can see that he really cares about his students and enjoys spending time with them. He spent countless afternoons talking with me about my work, helping me figure out what I was doing in the studio. One of the greatest lessons I learned from Mark above all is to be an individual in my work- to take creative approaches that are authentic, inventive, and intuitive.
– Michelle Wilcox, Art MFA ’20
“Professor Messersmith is one of the most talented painters in the world as well as the most laid back, humble person you could ever meet. I feel incredibly lucky to have been in one of the last classes he taught at FSU.”
– Matthew Forrest, BFA ’21
In 2017, the Susan and Mark Messersmith Art Scholarship was endowed by Mr. and Mrs. Messersmith for undergraduate students pursuing studies in painting and sculpture at Florida State University, reflecting their continued dedication to the university, art education, and the futures of young artists.
“Mark Messersmith is the kind of professor that leaves an impression for a lifetime even after only one semester. With incredible skill and a bold personality, his instruction and stories are ones that stick with you. I am very grateful to have been able to have him as a part of my educational career!”
– Morgan Wegner, 2020 scholarship recipient, BFA ’21
“The scholarship was super helpful and important to me because I’ve always struggled with money coming from a lower income family and having to take out hefty loans. Knowing Mark has been such a benefit. He’s such an amazing teacher and mentor in the way he supports you, sharpens your skills and makes gentle suggestions. He TRULY cares about his students, and you can tell he cares about each student personally in how he talks to you. I hope to have a lifelong relationship with Mark and I’m excited to work with him on his upcoming show at Venvi Art Gallery where I work now after graduating.”
– Serena Corson, 2019 scholarship recipient, BFA ’19
“Before I entered the studio art program I had little experience as a painter, and no oil painting experience. My first painting class was Mark’s beginning painting class and it changed my life!! I was encouraged to follow my personal themes and stylistic choices, and he always provided the support I needed while also giving me my own space to explore what I wanted to do. He was a great mentor and his classes always pushed my artistic practice forward. I feel lucky to have been part of his time at FSU before he retired. I do not believe my experience would have been the same without him. He was truly an exceptional professor.”
– Michelle Magallon, 2019 scholarship recipient, BFA ’19
Mark’s generosity towards students was well known. Often aiding “outside the classroom projects” on the weekend like helping build stretchers and moving large art works. He was such a sought-after teacher that it was no wonder that his classes often ended up being over enrolled. Professor Messersmith is an inspiration to all and his legacy will not only live on in the thousands of students he worked with during his 30 years at FSU, but through the establishment of the Susan and Mark Messersmith Endowment. Future generations of FSU Art Department students will continue to benefit from his generosity. This endowment enables the Art Department to annually give one to two undergraduate students a $1000 award for excellence in painting and/or sculpture. We hope to continue to grow this endowment so we can also offer this award to a deserving graduate student each year as well. If you are interested in contributing to the endowment, please contact the CFA Director of Development, Jessica Comas at email@example.com.
-Lilian Garcia-Roig, Professor and Chair of the Art Department
Since retiring Mr. Messersmith’s passion for art hasn’t waivered. He’s had multiple exhibitions including an exhibit at the Amarillo Museum of Art, and a solo show at Valley House Gallery in Dallas, along with multiple artist talks. Upcoming events include a solo show at Venvi Art Gallery and a group show at the US Embassy in Lithuania. He says he’s doing what he has always done; painting. With the exception of gardening and tennis, he spends most of the day in his studio. He says it’s what he did before and throughout his career as an educator, and he can’t see himself doing anything else.
Art forces you to come to it. There’s a uniqueness about that one artwork, and your conversation with that one artist through their work. Art is like the residue of that one artist, and I think there’s always going to be a place for that.
– Mark Messersmith
When asked about how the pandemic has impacted how art is experienced, he recalls viewing Van Gogh’s Basket of Apples in person,
The painting was as unique as he was. I could see a canvas imprint in the surface from when it was stacked in his studio. And there’s a time compression. It was in his studio, and it’s now in front of me. That happens with an object, and that’s what makes unique objects so important that we have museums to view them in person.
Mark Messersmith’s work is exhibited and collected throughout the US and abroad and is held in the permanent collections of multiple museums, including the Amarillo Museum of Art, Appleton Museum of Art, Asheville Art Museum, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art – Auburn University, Mus’ee du Haut-de-Cagnes, FSU’s Museum of Fine Art, Figge Art Museum, The Grace Museum, Hunter Museum of American Art, Huntsville Museum of Art, Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Orlando Museum of Art, Art Museum of Southeast Texas, The Nature Conservancy – Florida Chapter, Tyler Museum of Art, and the Art Museum of West Virginia University.