Department of Art and Art History Conference or Seminar

Art History graduates and alumni present at the annual College Art Association Conference

Wed. February 15, 2017

The College Art Association (CAA), the world’s largest professional association for visual artists and art historians, is holding its annual conference this week and eight Department of Art and Art History graduate students and alumni have been invited to present new scholarship.

Stephanie M. Strauss, Rose G. Salseda, Katie Anania, Gretel Rodríguez, Uchenna Itam, C.C. Marsh, Julia Detchon and Dorota M. Biczel will join an anticipated 4,000 attendees to present papers on their original research. As a premier opportunity to connect and learn from others in the field, the CAA conference topics span a wide variety of fields and research interests. The work of graduate students from The University of Texas at Austin promises to be equally diverse, pushing at the bounds of current knowledge to deliver excellence in research.

We reached out to some of the doctoral candidates who are presenting material at the conference to learn about the research they will share. Here’s a glimpse, in their own words:

classic maya stelae carved into precious material stone that is uncut
La Mojarra Stela

Stephanie M. Straus
Presenting her paper, “The Materiality of Inscription: Sculptural Surfaces in Epi-Olmec Art” in the session for Emerging Scholars of Latin American Art

“While the pristinely cut and polished surfaces of Classic Maya stelae are well-known, a handful of inscribed Maya monuments preserve the more natural contours of their source material. These rare examples are carved from the most precious of materials – hewn from a harvested stalagmite, or a uniquely hued stone. The act of making a surface proper for Epi-Olmec inscription is balanced through the preservation of the stone’s rough materiality. In exploring this intentional meeting of prepared and uncut surfaces, this paper attempts to place monuments such as the La Mojarra Stela, Tres Zapotes Stela C, and the Alvarado Stela into the greater schema of Mesoamerican sculptural practice. It also contrasts the aesthetic ordering of inscribed portable objects (like the Tuxtla Statuette) with models from the coeval visual culture programs of Kaminaljuyu, Tak’alik Ab’aj, and San Bartolo.”

installation view of room whose walls are pockmarked and where wine bottles hang
Wangechi Mutu. Hangin' in Texas (2004-2005). Mixed-media installation. Dimensions variable. Source: Artpace, San Antonio, Texas.

Uchenna Itam 
Presenting her paper, “Smell Blood: The Politics of the Senses in Wangechi Mutu’s Installation Art” in the session titled Flesh.

“Soft fur pelts, sticky brown packing tape, and bulky felt moving blankets engage the sense of touch; and performance-based video projections envelope the viewer in sound, light, and motion. Using reoccurring elements such as inverted glass bottles that drip red wine or milk, and white walls pockmarked with crimson painted scars, Mutu treats the ceilings and walls of exhibition spaces like flesh—able to bleed and milk, both vulnerable and nourishing. In examining the sensuousness of Mutu’s installations created between 2004 and 2007 with regards to her concurrent ascension from recent art school graduate to internationally renowned artist, this paper situates Mutu’s early installation art practice within the wider context of a burgeoning contemporary African diaspora art discourse. A phenomenological approach to exploring the installations as multisensorial encounters becomes a way of perceiving the Kenyan-born, New York-based artist’s practice as “smelling blood”—acting against, and taking advantage of, stereotypical narratives of race, gender and nationality.”

older photographic image of woman on the left using video camera and tv set

Julia Detchon
Presenting “Video Practices before Video Art: Lea Lublin’s Fluvio Subtunal” in the session titled Genesis of Video Art in Latin America (1970s and 1980s).

Some view the invention and arrival of the Sony Portapak, with its relative affordability and portability, as a catalytic event that decentralized the production of video and allowed artists to develop independent practices, generating a robust experimental video scene in South America in the 1970s. But even before the emergence of “video art,” artists in Argentina had for years been making works that incorporated experimental video practices. Works such as Marta Minujín and Ruben Santantonín’s La Menesnuda (1965) and Lea Lublin’s Cultura: Dentro y fuera del museo (1971) appropriated both video technologies and the set of social relations engendered by the ubiquity of television in Argentina by the early 1960s. These works reveal the paradoxical emergence of experimental video practices in Argentina before the widespread use of videographic technology.

Through Lublin’s site-specific installation Fluvio Subtunal (1969) – a sprawling and immersive parcour traversed by visitors to an abandoned department store – I consider the origins of the vocabularies of video art prior to the emergence of the technology it required. These early experimentations suggest that video art exceeds material definition, responding rather to the socio-political interrelationships that support video as idea."


Rose G. Salseda
Co-founder of the US Latinx Art Forum (USLAF), Salseda will be participating in a plenary for the advocacy organization that has made waves in previous CAA conferences. Since, USLAF has published new data and information on the representation of Latinx art at CAA 2017, which can be found here.

“The plenary will explore Latinx art as a growing field and as a framework for examining the discipline of art history. Given the recent election and executive orders, the plenary is especially urgent. Run as a moderated conversation, scholars, organizational leaders, and museum staff who specialize in Latinx art and/or other adjacent subjects will address the discipline in light of institutional structures and the current political climate."

image of man looking up toward the sky in a photo-album cover
Photo-Monde photo-albums

C. C. Marsh
Presenting her paper, “Between Art and Propaganda: Photo-Monde in the Service of the UN” in the session titled Photography in Print.

“Overlooked by historians, Photo-Monde’s photo-albums of 1955 and 1956 illustrate UNESCO’s belief that photography in general and the photo-essay specifically could function morally and diplomatically to foster mutual understanding between cultures. Photo-Monde’s editor and officials from UNESCO’s Department of Mass Communications collaborated to create these special issues which attempt to balance art and propaganda, humanism and institutional publicity. My paper analyzes these final issues of Photo-Monde to consider how UNESCO mobilized photography to craft universalizing pictorial narratives in support of the United Nations’ cosmopolitan ideology.”

drawing of waves in black and white
Cuentos Bárbaros No. 1, drawing on canvas, 1.05 m x 1.95 m

Dorota M. Biczel
Presenting her paper, “From Depth to Rebellious Surfaces: Toward a New Postcolonial Andean Identity through the Work of Claudia Coca” in the session titled Passages and Crossings: The Sea in Contemporary Art of the Global South.

“I am thrilled to be talking about the new monochromatic body of seascapes and skyscapes under the title Cuentos bárbaros (Barbarian Tales) by Claudia Coca, one of the most respected female artists of mid-generation in Lima. Coca has critically examined the issues of race and class for almost two decades. To do it through a monochromatic and almost abstracted landscape is a curious and radical move, however, and I am excited to explore its implications. In a gist, I suggest that Coca works against the models of auto-ethnography and self-exoticization prevalent with the recent rise of art market in Lima.”

2017 Eleanor Greenhill Symposium 

Mar 25

Visual Art Studies Students Awarded Travel Grants to Attend National Conference

Wed. January 18, 2017

The College of Fine Arts (CoFA) and Fine Arts Career Services (FACS) have awarded eight Visual Arts Studies students with Professional Travel Grants to attend the National Art Education Association’s (NAEA) conference in March. CoFA provides these grants for travel to professional development opportunities and all enrolled undergraduates are encouraged to apply.

The 2017 recipients from Visual Arts Studies are:
• Anamarie Delgado
• Paulina Dosal-Terminal
• Anyssa Flores
• Chelsea Freestone
• Tanya Gantiva
• Elysium Gonzalez
• Hannah Luse
• Michelle Zhou

Six students—Luse, Freestone, Zhou, Gonzalez, Delgado and Flores—will be co-presenting "Game Changer: Playing with Possibilities in Preservice Preparation" with Dr. Joana Hyatt of Lamar University and Dr. Christina Bain of The University of Texas at Austin. A highly competitive conference within the field of art education, NAEA conference has an acceptance rate of 35% for presentation submissions, making UT Austin students’ achievement at the NAEA conference. Their presentation will focus on a game that the Visual Arts Studies preservice students helped to create, based on real-life teaching scenarios.

Students and Faculty Attend Texas Art Education Association's Annual Conference

Fri. December 2, 2016

students and teacher
(Left to right) Julia Caswell, Chelsea Freestone, Hannah Reed, Madison Weakley, Dr. Christina Bain, Katie Gregory, (below) Courtney Jones.

This past month, Visual Art Studies students attended the Texas Art Education Association’s annual conference in Dallas. The conference seeks to promote quality visual arts education as an integral part of learning in Texas through the professional development and advancement of knowledge and skills, representation of the art educators of Texas, service and leadership opportunities, and research and development of policies and decisions relative to practices and directions in visual arts education.

two students
(Left to right) Madison Weakley, Hannah Reed

Awards for excellence in the field were given to UT Austin faculty members Paul Bolin for TAEA Distinguished Fellow and Heidi Powell for TAEA Higher Education Division Outstanding Art Education Award. In addition, faculty, current and former Visual Art Studies students presented research and best practices in a variety of conference presentations. Included among the presentations were current senior Julia Caswell’s “The Walking Classroom: Audio Walks and Engagement," which explored how interactive audio walks may be implemented in the art classroom, and alumnus Shaun Lane and Shelby Johnson's “Myth vs. Reality: Student Teaching,” an investigation of students’ relationships with student teachers vs. in-service teachers. Faculty members Christina Bain and Heidi Powell presented a workshop titled "Animating Your Curriculum" that taught how to integrate time-lapse software into an art education curriculum. 

Christina Bain also presented a two hour workshop, "Penelope Paper Strip, Puppets, and Paper Sculpture," with VAS students Courtney Jones, Hannah Reed, Madison Weakley, Katie Gregory, Chelsea Freestone and Julia Caswell that explored how storytelling can set the stage for teaching basic paper sculpture techniques. This conference presentation was a natural extension of previous research presented at the International Society for Education through Art annual conference. Research from contemporary art educators at The University of Texas at Austin innovates upon current practices, incorporating elements of gamification and technology. "I think technology has always been a focus of art instruction," said Bain. "As technologies of the times change, so too does instruction. Technologies spotlighted in conferences such as TAEA dovetail with the general push in education to focus on 21st century learning skills."  

Christina Bain and Colleagues Pave New Path with Technology-based Instruction Utilizing Animation and Gamification of Learning

Mon. November 21, 2016

picture of a woman with bright red hair, a funky necklace and a green sweater shirt
Dr. Christina Bain

Professor of Visual Art Studies and Art Education Christina Bain presented "Vulnerability and Vicissitudes: The Role of Scenario-Based Games in Preservice Preparation" at the International Society for Education through the Arts (INSEA) in Vienna, Austria last month.

“Experienced educators recognize that teaching is a complex, social process that is influenced by many contextual factors,” writes Bain. “The best solution to a situation—in theory—might be effective in one place but not in another. Therefore, preservice students often feel unprepared because they have limited teaching experience to draw upon. So, through my research I ask: How might preservice students learn from the wisdom and experience of seasoned teachers?” The solution, posed within Bain’s conference presentation, is K-16 collaborations. The Worst Case Scenario Art Game is one such strategy that improves preservice preparation by basing playing cards on authentic scenarios experienced by preservice and in-service teachers.

Likewise, Dr. Christina Bain, Dr. Heidi Powell and Dr. Bill Nieberding presented "Animating Your Curriculum" at the Texas Art Education Association conference in Dallas, Texas on November 18, 2016. This presentation explored how animation software was integrated into three university art education courses. On November 19, Bain presented at TAEA with Courtney Jones, Hannah Reed, Madison Weakley, Katie Gregory, Chelsea Freestone and Julia Caswell (undergraduates in Visual Art Studies, 2017) in a two-hour workshop titled "Penelope Paper Strip, Puppets, and Paper Sculpture," which explores how storytelling can set the stage for teaching basic paper sculpture techniques.

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