Department of Art and Art History Studio Art

Professor Beili Liu Named a Recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant Program

Tue. January 3, 2017

Chinese woman with dark hair and a white shirt smiles in picture

Studio Art Professor Beili Liu will receive $25,000 in unrestricted career support through the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s Painters and Sculptors Grant Program. Established in 1993, the Painters and Sculptors Grant Program recognizes the exceptional creative achievements of painters and sculptors working today. 

Senior Art Major Gabrielle Maritza Daubourg Completes Inaugural New York Residency

Mon. November 21, 2016

out of focus image of a woman, possibly on a bus or possibly in a restaurant
Film stills from footage take during Anti-Trump protest outside Trump Tower

Operated out of DUMBO Brooklyn, by the Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design (AICAD), the New York Studio Residency Program (NYSRP) offers a semester-long program for selected art students across the United States. Given their own studio space and the opportunity for intensive engagement with artists and colleagues, participating students are given an exceptional introduction to the New York art world.

This year, senior Studio Art undergraduate Gabrielle Daubourg joined twelve other students from across the U.S. and Canada in New York to embark on the residency. A change of scenery is nothing new for Daubourg. Originally from France, born and raised in Paris, she moved to Texas when she was sixteen years old. At The University of Texas at Austin, she studied philosophy before transferring to Studio Art in order to work in film. When describing the program, Daubourg writes, “The academic structure of the program is very laissez-faire and allows each students to have time to explore the city, go to museums, exhibits and work in our studios. No micro managing.” The critical seminars that take place from Monday through Thursday involve discussion of assigned texts to current events. “These discussions have been highly influential,” writes Daubourg. “especially as a practicing video maker, in this cultural climate, which is purely mediated through consumption and image-based relationships.”

an old man in film still who is out of focus, only his forehead to his nose visible
Film stills from footage take during Anti-Trump protest outside Trump Tower

Writing with Daubourg over email during mid-terms, we learned that Magdalena Sawon of Postmasters Gallery came to the studios as a guest critic. Sawon is known for cultivating talent in new and emerging artists working in sculpture and painting to new media. Among twelve students, she is the only one that works in video; most others work in sculpture, painting, screen printing and other mediums. All of the object-making makes for a dynamic exchange of voices and critical approaches, especially during midterm critiques. “As I primarily work in video, my shooting occurred after the midterm, so the majority of what I had to show was comprised of writings,” writes Daubourg. “I presented some previous works in order to show the visual strategies I intended on applying to the upcoming project. Otherwise it was a surprisingly polite and safe critique, especially considering the student’s overall sense of anxiety prior to the event, which only served to disappoint my masochistic tendencies.”

The individual studio spaces given to each student artist are a boon to their production and a unique opportunity to expand upon projects over the course of the semester. When discussing her studio space as a video artist, Daubourg responded, “My studio space looks more like an office. It’s clean, orderly and meticulous; a failed, conscious mise-en-scène to attempt to calm my neurosis.” Remarking on the comparison to other students’ studios, “The space lacks the liveliness and colors of the painter’s studios and as another student put it, ‘it’s sad, sterile and lacks warmth.’ The next day I bought a candle.”

Assuming that Daubourg employed the same crackling wit in her work, we asked her what some of her current projects entailed. “At the moment the process of aging and the attempt to preserve histories through different aspects of storytelling is central to my relationships with current subjects,” writes Daubourg. “My work is dependent on subjects, either actors, dancers or family members. I only occupy the studio for research or editing.” The constraints she puts on herself in terms of subject matter and approach means that she spends most days outside, establishing relationships with individuals she is curious about before retiring to her studio to edit. As a means of establishing authentic relationships, Daubourg is volunteering with an organization that establishes physical and emotional support for seniors in the city. “I have started developing a closeness with certain individuals and started a process of documenting them in their space and recording our conversations.”

“Most of my current work happens prior to capturing any footage. Because of my dependency on people I spend a lot of time building the relationship before I can introduce the invasive presence of a camera into their personal space. Trust must be established, a construction that is undeniably dependent on time.”

part of woman's face in film still frame
Film stills from footage take during Anti-Trump protest outside Trump Tower

With a month left in the semester, Daubourg reflects back on some of the most enriching parts of the residency, “just the ability to produce work in one of the greatest cities in the world is such a tremendous opportunity. There is a freedom to experiment and attention given to young artists that I want to see everywhere and bring back with me.”  

GAPP brings Gfeller + Hellsgârd to UT Austin for Fall 2016 Artist Residency

Thu. November 10, 2016

by Christopher Callison
two printmakers working

Last month, the Guest Artist in Print Program (GAPP) invited Berlin-based artist duo Christian Gfeller and Anna Hellsgârd to The University of Texas at Austin for an artist residency. Over the course of ten days, the artists collaborated on the creation of a large-scale silk screen print project titled, Die Wand/Die Mauer.

ink being laid down

The Guest Artist in Print Program (GAPP) is the visiting artist program of the Print Area within the Department of Art and Art History at UT Austin. GAPP seeks to expose the university community to a combination of emerging and established artists immersed in an expanded print practice.

This year, GAPP brought Gfeller and Hellsgârd, who started working together twenty-one years ago producing zines and artist books. They’ve been commissioned work for familiar brands like Converse, Sony and Vice. “We like to challenge ourselves workwise,” states Gfeller. “Pushing the boundaries keeps the work interesting, exciting. Research, experiment, risk taking; this is what being an artist is about.”

man reviewing screen print work

The duo’s work has grown to encompass large unique formats like wood, panels and canvas and they aren’t afraid to let the influence of “accidents” disrupt their process. “Accidents (smearing, offprints, misprints...) of the screen-printing process are one of the pivotal components of our work,” states Gfeller. “Functioning like this makes it harder to fit the art market expectations, but our freedom is more important than our comfort.”

Aaron Yuhas, a freshman art student at UT, assisted the Berlin duo during their residency. “[Gfeller and Hellsgârd] would say, ‘we are not chasing perfection’ and it was a profound statement,” Yuhas reflects. Screen printing usually requires perfection to create a crisp product, however Yuhas learned that Gfeller and Hellsgârd preferred to use the medium in an unconventional, abstract way.  When asked why they didn’t paint free hand, Yuhas states, “they were adamant that you don’t get the same imperfections that you can with screen printing.”

different colors of ink about to be pressed

Gfeller and Hellsgârd spend the majority of their time in their own print shop called Re:Surgo in Berlin. The project took its name from two German words for “wall,” one implying a structure built for separating an area and another for a permanent division in a building.

“Re:Surgo! stands for the idea of reinventing yourself,” states Gfeller. This notion is reflected in their open acceptance of “accidents” in their work and how, as artists, they have adopted an iterative, adaptive practice. Even though they are consistently working, they spoke about how they do still try and get out to meet friends and artists in the huge Berlin art scene and enjoy their individual hobbies of horse riding (Anna) and collecting vinyl (Christian).

Anna Hellsgârd working with ink
Die Wand/Die Mauer was on view at the Visual Arts Center on October 27, 2016. Consisting of three free-standing billboards constructed out of screen printed plywood, each side of the of the freestanding “walls” were constructed to evoke the symbolic political meanings around walls in contemporary Germany and the United States. In contemporary Berlin, elections summon the papering of walls and buildings. During the Cold War, the Berlin Wall was erected by the German Democratic Republic, a Communist government, to divide Communist East Berlin from “fascist” West Berlin. One side of the wall made evident the presence of human contact and expression through graffiti and papering while propaganda, decoration and expression were heavily regulated on the other side. The final exhibition of Die Wand/Die Mauer recalls emergent issues of censorship and philosophical conflict in the contemporary United States.

After Gfeller and Hellsgrâd exhibited Die Wand/Die Mauer, the piece was deconstructed into smaller units and handed out to various students, alumni and visitors, much like the Berlin Wall itself upon its deconstruction in 1989. They are now working on documentation of the project, including collection of images of the smaller units with their new owners.

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