Department of Art and Art History News

Professor John Clarke and Oplontis Project Win Loeb Classical Library Foundation Fellowship

Mon. March 27, 2017

AAH logo with Texas in orange above text reading Art and Art History
 

The Loeb Classical Library Foundation at Harvard University has awarded a Loeb Classical Library Fellowship to Art History Professor John Clarke and the Oplontis Project. The Loeb Classical Library Foundation awards fellowships to qualified scholars to support research, publication and other projects in the area of classical studies. With the fellowship in 2017-2018, Oplontis Project will continue their work at the site of Oplontis in Torre Annunziata, Italy.


 

Jason Urban's The Formalist's Library exhibition opens at SNAP Gallery

Thu. March 23, 2017

open book with concentric black rectangles

From the 1940's zines devoted to H.P. Lovecraft to the Soviet underground press samizat, the recent work of Studio Art faculty member Jason Urban mines the rich landscape of print history. His prints, drawings, paintings and installations have been featured in numerous venues nationally and internationally, and, most recently, brought him to The University of Alberta. Urban was invited to lecture about his work and research in conjunction with the opening of The Formalist’s Library at The Society of Northern Alberta Print-artists (SNAP) Gallery in Edmonton, Alberta.

In The Formalist’s Library, Urban meditates on the structure of the traditional brick-and-mortar library as a vehicle for delivering information as we move from the physical to physible. The Formalist’s Library is an ongoing series exploring various aspects of library architecture and systems and the lifespan of printed media in both the micro (daily) and macro (centurial) sense.

The Formalist's Library is on view March 16, 2017 - April 22, 2017.

Q+A with Alumna and Curator Rebecca Giordano

Wed. March 22, 2017

West wall of Christian-Green Gallery exhibiting March ON!
West wall of Christian-Green Gallery exhibiting March ON!


Curator Rebecca Giordano (M.A. in Art History, 2015) is one of the founding members of the curatorial collective, INGZ, a collaboration that grew out of Art History Associate Professor Cherise Smith's Historicizing the Politics of Identity seminar. March ON!, an exhibition curated by Giordano, is currently on view at the Christian-Green Gallery through April 15, 2017.

On Friday, March 24, INGZ and the UT Austin campus will welcome Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell for a public conversation at the Hogg Auditorium. A film screening of "Get in the Way: The Journey of John Lewis" will precede the panel, but tickets are required.

On Thursday, March 23 at 5:30 p.m. there will be a reception and conversation between Giordano and artist Nate Powell at the Christian-Green Gallery. 

 

image of gallery with display of comic art and panels
March ON! in the Christian-Green Gallery


Can you tell me how the March ON! exhibition came together?

I began thinking about this exhibition after reading the first volume of March back in 2014. John Lewis' personal story is certainly a compelling and important one. But it is actually the quality of the brush-and-ink illustrations made me think this graphic novel would make a fantastic exhibition. While they are, of course, comics, they are also extraordinary drawings that address essential political issues of the last century. The illustrator, Nate Powell, is an old friend of mine. I approached him about two years ago to discuss the idea of building an exhibition around the original drawings.

How do you approach curating an exhibition based on a comic? How has your work as an art historian or a curator previously crossed paths with this medium?

In general, comics are accessible. They are considered a low medium, a literally pulp form. The flip side of this disregard is that people are eager to pick them up and tear through without recognizing how much work they do to read them or feeling intimidated by the theme or content. This affords a unique opportunity for drawing out a nuanced and layered perspective and interesting, fine-tuned illustrations for a broad (and sometimes unsuspecting) audience, which March does very well.

This is my second exhibition of comic artwork. The first was In Heartbeats: The Comic Art of Jackie Ormes, which showcased work from four newspaper series by the first African American woman cartoonist. (One of Ormes’ comics is also on display in March ON!) I approached both shows archivally, putting these fantastic comic artworks in conversation with other kinds of cultural production. Because of the historic content and the necessity for visitors to spend time actually reading the text on the page, March ON! required a different curatorial approach. One question I had was about how to curate work from a comic book. These drawings are reproduced in an award-winning and best-selling graphic novel, so how could I approach this to make an exhibition that is interesting and does something different than the book? The exhibition March ON! features more than 50 original drawings from March by Nate Powell. I included a variety of ephemera and works of art by other artists to help fill out the historical period that the graphic memoir covers. Documentary photographs by Charles Moore and Spider Martin and pamphlets and newsletters from the activist James Farmer's archive (all of which came from the Briscoe Center here on campus) along with comics from the 1950s and today addressing racial justice, and protest albums from the era are on display to help visitors think about how the ideas behind the Civil Rights Movement spread in material ways.

depiction of 50s comic strip where little girl is talking to mom
Panel from In Heartbeats: The Comic Art of Jackie Ormes

 

What conversation or question do you hope to inspire with this exhibition?

March ON! offers UT a place to reflect on the relationship between a particular historic moment and our own using outstanding and innovative visual culture that centers Black experience. This is an undeniably important contribution to our campus culture. One really fantastic aspect of March as a graphic novel series is that there are so many points of entry for different people. Curating from more than 600 pages required selecting what events and ideas covered in the three volumes to represent in the exhibition. I chose to highlight the breadth of Lewis' story to invite as many connections as possible, whether it be a shared concern for social justice, empathy for the violence of racist treatment, the excitement of finding community as well as the difficulty of bridging differences within a movement, or using art to voice a deeply felt political position. The exhibition—like the books themselves—doesn't let you forget the past or the present. While there is no one thing that I hope visitors take away, I hope the exhibition offers an opportunity to reflect on the many roles people can play in social movements including the ways that the strategies that proved successful were developed, honed and carried out by ordinary people for ordinary people.

What are INGZ’s future plans?

INGZ is motivated by a creative approach to curating as a political practice. We like to rethink what happens in galleries, with whom, and how the curatorial process changes when we move beyond traditional models. For us, that can mean shifting our approach to the time and space of an exhibition—what does it do to offer two exhibitions back-to-back by the same artist in two very different spaces on the same campus, as we did with LaToya Ruby Frazier: Riveted? It can also mean seeing what comes out of condensing a semester-long performance series into three days to create a viewing and performing experience with density and in support of emerging and ongoing webs of connection and participation as we undertook with Sampling. Our current projects include a collaborative expanded video and a work that intends to bridge the worlds of inspirational speaking and chatty memoir through performance art. We like questions that emerge at limits. We also like archives. To that end, we are exploring how we create faithful archives of our own processes and projects. Online, this can be found out ingzcollective.org.
 

New works by alumnus Miguel A. Aragón featured in new book and special exhibition in Peenemünd

Mon. March 20, 2017

a man maneuvering pipes across sheets of print paper


In 2015, Gregorio Iglesias Mayo and Miguel A. Aragón (M.F.A. in Studio Art, 2014) spent the entire summer at the Historical-Technical Museum Peenemünd. They would contribute to a historical exhibition at the site, Wunder mit Kalkül:Die Peenemünder Fernwaffenprojekte als Teil des deutschen Rüstungssystems (loosely translated as Miracle with calculus: The Peenemünde missile weapons projects as part of the German defense system) and are currently exhibiting together in a contemporary exhibition of their own works titled Imprinting History.

It is worthy of note that the Historical-Technical Museum Peenemünd is not technically an art museum, but a museum born of the historical significance of the site of Peenemünd. The site served as a power plant back in the WWII era and later was used during Soviet occupation of East Germany. In recent years, parts of facilities have been re-configured as gallery spaces for permanent historical and rotating contemporary exhibitions that speak to the historical, cultural and human aspects of the site. It was at Peenemünd that early rocket technology was developed by one of Germany’s leading scientists, Wernher von Braun, who would later secretly move to the United States and work with NASA to put man on the moon.

“The Historisch-Technisches Museum Peenemünde is a place charged with history, which altered human existence,” writes Aragón on the Till Richter Museum website. “It is a place that was built solely on the fact of its potential, which would never be fully reached until after the end of the Second World War. I am attracted to this relentless drive to realize the impossible despite the constant failures.”

What began as just the inclusion of a few pieces that Aragón and Mayo produced on site during their residency in a historical exhibition for the museum’s permanent galleries has turned into Imprinting History, a group exhibition of work from the two resident artists. Covering the museum grounds, Aragón would utilize the dust, earth and rust in his cyanotype process to imprint the land itself onto each print sheet.

Reflecting on the work in the exhibition, Aragón writes, “This body of work [created for the Historical-Technical Museum Peenemünd] is connected to my research as an artist, research that explores attempts to capture and freeze a specific moment, the marks of time, conveying the transitory nature of memory, reflecting on the process of recollection, fading memory and alluding to the transitory nature of human existence.”

A courtyard-length painting by Mayo, a large installation by Aragón as well as the documentation by the Catalan photographer Gala Oró will be exhibited in the Turbine Hall of the power plant Peenemünde from May 2016 to August 2017.

See more from the exhibition and Aragón at work in the video from the Till Richter Museum.
 

Hotel Mexico awarded the Arvey Foundation Book Award from the Association for Latin American Art

Mon. March 20, 2017

depiction of book cover with blue tinted skyline of mexico and title of book
Hotel Mexico: Dwelling on the '68 Movement by George Flaherty


Each year the Association for Latin American Art (ALAA) selects a book representing the best scholarly work published on the art of Latin America from the Pre-Columbian era to the present for the Arvey Foundation Book Award. This year, the selection committee honored Art History assistant professor George Flaherty with that award for his most recent book, Hotel Mexico: Dwelling on the '68 Movement (University of California Press, 2016).

“In his abundantly detailed, thoughtful, and theoretically sophisticated study, Flaherty engages a pivotal episode, the 1968 massacre of 300 student protestors in Mexico City ten days before the Olympics,” said Charlene Villaseñor Black, ALAA Chair, during the award presentation. “Flaherty considers Mexico in 1968 and its cinematic, photographic, and literary afterimages in an analysis of the diverse ways in which the Tlatelolco Massacre is remembered, evoked, and memorialized.”

Flaherty publishes primarily on Latin American and U.S. Latino visual and spatial cultures since 1940, with emphasis on Mexico and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. His research and teaching interests extend to Cuba, film and media studies, postcolonial and subaltern studies, and the historiography of global contemporary art. Hotel Mexico investigates the spatial dimensions of the 1968 student-led protest movement in Mexico City and its representation.