University mourns passing of art professor Dr. Paulette Fleming

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University mourns passing of art professor Dr. Paulette Fleming

SERVICES SET: Oct. 23 and 24 – bit.ly/FSN-PauletteFlemingHomegoing

Dr. Paulette Fleming, a nationally-recognized professor of art and design at Fresno State who dedicated herself to reaching out to youth in the community with art projects, died Saturday. The news was announced by Dr. Martin Valencia, chair of the Art and Design Department. Dr. Fleming was 67.

Dr. Fleming joined the Fresno State faculty in 1988 and was the first recipient of the J. Eugene Grigsby Award for meritorious service to art education by the Committee on Multicultural Affairs of the National Art Education Association.

She also was co-founder and executive director of the Partners-in-Art youth program, which was selected to be one of 25 university projects nationwide invited to present at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The program was honored for its dedication to educating central San Joaquin Valley youth in art through the “Hungry for Art/ART FOR HUNGER” project.

Dr. Fleming was instrumental in coordinating Kwanzaa events for children and youth at the Martin Luther King Square Apartments in West Fresno as part of the Saturday Art Workshop series.

She was currently working on a mural project with children and youth at the Lafayette Park and Community Center in collaboration with Partners in Arts, the City of Fresno and The Way Ministries…John 14:6.

Valencia expressed the Art and Design Department’s condolences to her family, colleagues and her friends throughout the region.

“We will cherish her memory and will miss her commitment to the University’s students and colleagues,” Valencia said. “The community will miss a great ambassador for the children and social justice.”

She was also a member of the Fresno State Black Faculty and Staff Association. Dr. Francine Oputa, president of the association and a close friend of Dr. Fleming, said the Fresno community is “heartbroken at the loss of this drum major for justice.

“Dr. Fleming had a special love for children and youth,” Oputa said. “She put that love into action in her work with some of Fresno’s most vulnerable children and youth through the use of visual and performing arts.”

A fine art graduate of Hampton Institute, Dr. Fleming earned an M.F.A. in Theater Arts-Design/Tech from Brandeis University and a Ph.D. in Art Education from The Ohio State University.  She served as an art consultant and review panelist for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing for the past 18 years, helping to bring a balanced approach to program standards.

Her publications and professional activities are centered around issues of cultural pluralism and identity, and she received of numerous grants in the areas of curriculum development and instructional innovation.

Dr. Fleming is the recipient of the Service Award for the College of Arts and Humanities, an N.A.A.C.P. Image Award for Civic Engagement, the California Visual Art Educator of the Year Award for 2008, the Trailblazer Award for Outstanding Community Leadership from the African American Historical and Cultural Museum of the San Joaquin Valley in 2011, and was recognized as one of Fresno’s Top Ten Professional Women of the Year for 2010.

In 2013, she was honored as one of three “Women Inspiring Girls” by Girl Scouts of Central California- South.

Dr. Fleming has also been recognized for her expertise with four university wide Faculty Development Grant Awards.

In 2008, she was honored as California Visual Art Educator of the Year by the National Art Education Association.

Dr. Fleming is survived by her daughter, Jamillah Finley of Fresno and her grandchildren Ebon, Zion and Zen’aya.

Services are are set for Oct. 23 and 24. The viewing is 4 – 8 p.m. Friday at the Jesse E. Cooley Funeral Home in Fresno (1830 S. Fruit). The Homegoing Service is 11 a.m.  Saturday at Westside Church of God in Fresno (1422 W. California Ave.).  bit.ly/FSN-PauletteFlemingHomegoing