The College of the Arts SPARK Lifetime Achievement Award honors alumni
and members of the community who have made great strides to advance the
arts in Louisiana and across the country. This year's recipient will be Herman Mhire.
Herman Mhire was born in Lafayette, Louisiana. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette (1969) and his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Arkansas (1972). Prior to his retirement in 2005, he was named a Distinguished Professor of Visual Arts in the College of the Arts at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and served as Director/Chief Curator of the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum.
In 1983, Herman Mhire, Assistant Professor and Director of the Gallery of the USL School of Art Architecture since 1977, was appointed Director of the University Art Museum. Through Mhire’s efforts and vision he established a professional exhibition space within Fletcher Hall and organized more than 200 exhibitions including traveling exhibitions presented in the United States, Canada, Europe and the Middle East. Additionally, he built a permanent collection showcasing Louisiana’s most important and prominent artists. Museum publications Mhire produced received awards from the American Association of Museums, Southeastern Museums Conference, Art Directors Club of New York, and the Art Directors & Designers Association of New Orleans.
In 2000, Mhire began to seek private funds to build a new art museum for ULL. With former university President Ray Authement’s approval, a fundraising goal of $8.5 million was established, and Paul and Lulu Hilliard responded with a lead gift of $5 million. The opening of the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette in the spring of 2004 signified the realization of a plan envisioned in the early 1960s by the celebrated Louisiana architect A Hays Town, but was also the culmination of Mhire’s vision for Lafayette’s first professionally designed and built art museum. Mhire collaborated with the New Orleans architectural firm of Eskew+Dumez+Ripple and M. Goodwin Associates of Los Angeles on the planning and design of the new $8.5 million Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum. The museum project received six local, state, regional and national architectural design awards including a 2005 National Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects and was published in Architectural Record and U. S. Architecture, Braun Publishing, Berlin, 2009.
Herman is also well known as the founding president of Festival International de Louisiane. The festival reigns as the largest outdoor, free Francophone visual and performing arts festival in the United States. Artists from across North America, the Caribbean, Africa and Europe perform at the event, which attracts an estimated 400,000 fans annually. In 2005, he was awarded one of France’s highest honors when the Minister of Culture of France named him a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters.
As an Artist, Mhire was trained as a painter and printmaker. In 2008 his work shifted to photography, which resulted in a series titled Altered States that was exhibited at the Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA 2009, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, 2010, Martine Chaisson Gallery, New Orleans, 2011, and Sara Nightingale Gallery, New York, 2011. Recently, his work has focused on the subtle beauty of sea and land shells. Working in collaboration with world renowned malacologist and ULL Professor, Dr. Emilio Garcia, Mhire photographed actual specimens from Dr. Garcia’s personal collection. The result was a collaborative exhibition, The Art and Science of Shells which premiered at the Louisiana Art and Science Museum in 2014.
Since 1977, Mhire has devoted his life and work to cultivating the Arts at ULL, the greater Lafayette community and beyond. Through his many roles as a curator, artist, and professor he continues to serve as an ambassador of the Arts for Louisiana locally and internationally.
Past SPARK Lifetime Achievement Award recipients are:
Nick Spitzer (2016)
Nick Spitzer is the producer and host of the radio program American
Routes and is a folklorist and professor of anthropology and American
studies at Tulane University. For his magisterial dissertation on zydeco
music and Creole Mardi Gras at the University of Texas, he worked
extensively with legends of Creole music in Acadiana.
Edward J. Cazayoux, FAIA (2015)
‘Eddie’ Cazayoux is a renowned architect, environmental activist, and
educator. His research and design work focusing on sustainable
architecture and historic preservation has been recognized locally,
nationally, and internationally innumerable times over his four-decade
long professional career.
Keith Sonnier (2014)
Keith Sonnier is an internationally acclaimed performance, video and
light artist. His experimental and influential work is collected, shown,
and installed internationally.
Richard ‘Dickie’Landry (2014)
Richard ‘Dickie’ Landry is an internationally acclaimed saxophonist,
composer, and artist. His piece, “Mass for Pentecost Sunday”, has been
performed internationally. He is a founding member of the Philip Glass
Ensemble and has collaborated with major musicians and artists.
Ray McIntyre (2013)
Joe Stewart (2012)
Michael Doucet avec BeauSoleil (2011)
A. Hays Town (2010)
George Rodrigue (2009)
The College of the Arts prepares students to be creative, critical
and responsive professionals through our fine arts, design and
performance programs. We serve our students and communities by means of
collaborative, experiential, innovative, and globally relevant learning
opportunities and partnerships.
The College of the Arts seeks to create a bridge between the arts and
cultures of the world and the unique context and traditions of
College of the Arts
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
P.O. Box 43850
Lafayette, LA 70504-0001