Dean Mitchell

On April 18th, visual artist Dean Mitchell visited FSU’s Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship to put on an interactive lecture for the students. In addition to undergraduate-level students, over 40 middle and high school art students joined via Zoom.

Mitchell began the lecture by going over his previous art shows and work, sharing his experiences as a new and aspiring artist. He discussed in detail how racial disparities held him back when starting his career. It took him a long time to find a studio that would display and sell art painted by an African American. This experience stood out to one student. “I am trying to overcome being denied exhibition opportunities by an art group I belong to and have been very involved with,” said student Jennifer Hunter. “I think this is because I think differently about some ethical issues. What advice can you give me to overcome this and find new opportunities?”

Mitchell ended the lecture by showing the students a photo of him with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. He talked about how this was the ultimate sign of his success, and how his journey took him from working in tobacco fields in Quincy, Florida to standing with the President and First Lady. Mitchell had very few people who believed in his dream to become a successful painter, but this moment let him know that his hard work had paid off.

Participants joined from across the country, including one student from Montana. “Thank you, thank you for this wonderful presentation. I have followed you and your work for years, from here, along the Blackfoot River in western Montana,” said attendee Lisa Smith. “You inspire me and all who know you and love and understand your work.” The lecture concluded with Mitchell opening the floor for questions and discussions with the students.