Department of Art and Art History Alumni

Selene Bataille Featured in PrintAustin’s The Contemporary Print exhibition in January

Thu. January 19, 2017

printed fabric tiles

Selene Bataille (B.F.A. in Studio Art, 2016) has been selected as one of the artists in the 2017 PrintAustin’s The Contemporary Print exhibition. Now in its fourth year, the annual national exhibition highlights innovations in contemporary printmaking and is being jurored by Susan Tallman, an art historian of print and editor of Art in Print. Tallman’s writing has appeared in in Art in America, Parkett, Public Art Review, Art on Paper, Print QuarterlyArts Magazine and many other publications. Her books include The Contemporary Print: from Pre-Pop to Postmodern (Thames and Hudson), The Collections of Barbara Bloom (Steidl), and numerous museum catalogues.

Tallman will be giving a lecture at UT Austin on February 9, 2017 at 4 p.m. in conjunction with PrintAustin (taking place from Jan. 15 – Feb. 15, 2017) titled, "It's Complicated: Why Prints (Still) Matter." This event is free and open to the public.  

The Contemporary Print exhibition will be on view at Flatbed Press Headquarters in Austin from January  10 – February  18, 2017. To get a better understanding of Bataille and her work, we’ve asked her a few questions. All correspondence took place over email.


Can you describe the work that you are submitting for The Contemporary Print show?

The work that was selected for The Contemporary Print is an installation consisting of a series of 7" x 7" screen printed fabric squares. The squares are displayed in a grid, similar to tiles, with about an inch of space in between.

What was the genesis of the work?

Back in September I started making a lot of patterns in Photoshop with photos that I had taken on my phone. The photos were pretty simple images of sand, clouds, rocks, grass—things in nature that have their own kind of order and are relatively untouched by human hands. I was thinking a lot about the patterned fabrics within domestic spaces and how they frequently depict botanical or natural imagery in a way that's very controlled and unlike nature itself. I liked thinking about how we seem to take these images of the seemingly chaotic outside world and control them for our interior spaces. I began to collect patterned fabrics that I found at thrift stores, cut them all into 7" x 7" squares and screen printed the patterns I had made in Photoshop onto the already patterned fabric. After they were printed, the patterns became indecipherable. I highly doubt someone would look at them and think "sand" or "clouds".

I like that the images are translated into something new, maybe more abstract. Laying the pieces out in a grid is a way of further controlling them, while also referencing tiles or quilts in domestic spaces.

What do you feel you took from your classes at The University of Texas and your peers in the Department of Art and Art History?

I took Jason's Advanced Print Workshop multiple semesters, which really helped me develop my portfolio conceptually and allowed me to push the boundaries of print. The class is very open and allows students to make work that is sparked by their individual interests. Because it wasn't a clear-cut traditional print class like "lithography" or "intaglio," everyone came to the class with different backgrounds, interests and understandings of print, which produced a lot of unique and exciting work. 

What’s exciting in your horizon?

For the time being I'm sticking around Austin but all possibilities are open! I manage the gallery space at Bass Concert Hall on the UT campus, which has been such a great opportunity for me to be more involved with the art community around Austin because we strictly display local Austin artists and members of the UT community.

Rachel Stuckey (MFA in Studio Art, 2016) to Speak at Media Archaeology Lab

Tue. January 17, 2017

Malfunction written horizontally along the left in royal blue with text writing 1 artist 1 researcher discuss technology including speaker bios and image of a man and a woman


As the latest artist-in-residence at the Media Archaelogy Lab in Boulder, CO, recent M.F.A. graduate Rachel Stuckey will give an artist talk on Feb. 15, 2017 about her work and the process of utilizing the intentionally obsolete tools, hardware, software and platforms available at the Lab.  

Alumna Ariana Vincent Invited to Participate in Multiple Exhibitions

Sun. December 11, 2016

yellow flower with red center
Ariana Vincent, “Golden Chalice”, photograph

Latest work from Ariana Vincent (B.A. in Studio Art, 1977) was exhibited in Houston-based 8th Annual Chinese Brush Painting show in November 2016.

Vincent’s work will also be shown at Birds, Bees, Flowers and Trees along with the work of fellow artist Gail Threinen at the Old Bakery Emporium in Austin on February 3, 2016. Vincent will exhibit her Flowers of Heaven series and Threinen will exhibit her Chinese brush paintings and calligraphy.

The opening reception for Birds, Bees, Flowers and Trees will be held Friday, February 3, 2017 from 5 – 7 p.m.

Q+A with Vanessa Paumen, Curator at the Groeningemuseum in Bruges

Fri. November 18, 2016


painting installation of Judgment of Cambyses
The Judgment of Cambyses by Gerard David (ca. 1498)

In 2010, Vanessa Paumen (B.A. in Art History, 1997; M.A. in Art History, 2002) was hired at the Groeningemuseum in Bruges as the coordinator of the Flemish Research Center for the Arts in the Burgundian Netherlands. The Groeningemuseum holds an important collection of art works from the 15th century onwards, with a focus on art related to the city of Bruges. From October 28, 2016 – February 5, 2017, the Groeningemuseum is exhibiting The Art of Law. Three Centuries of Justice Depicted, curated by Vanessa Paumen. This exhibition features twenty works of art from the collections of Musea Brugge (a conglomerate of several museum) supplemented by about a hundred other pieces on loan from galleries and museums from around the world. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue and a three-day conference on the art of law.

Paumen has always been fascinated by the artwork of 15th century Flanders, and especially works around depictions of law and justice. In her master’s degree thesis, Judged, Beheaded, Burned: Dieric Bouts' The Justice of Emperor Otto III within the Context of Fifteenth-Century Punitive Practices, she looked at how justice paintings functioned in 15th century Flemish society.

She answered questions by email.

Why were you drawn to the subject of depictions of law and justice in art?

I became interested in this theme because of two particularly fascinating paintings produced in 15th century Flanders: The Justice of Otto III by Dieric Bouts (ca. 1473) and The Judgment of Cambyses by Gerard David (ca. 1498). These large, impressive works were ordered by the aldermen of their respective cities (Louvain and Bruges) as exempla iustitiae paintings for the aldermen's rooms. In those days, the aldermen also functioned as judges and pronounced judgment.

It was during a study-abroad trip with Professor Jeffrey Smith and fellow graduate students that I “discovered” these two works. In addition to being fascinated by the stories that were depicted, I became interested in the ways these large works would have functioned and had an impact on their contemporary viewers – inspired by the teachings and methodology of Professor John Clarke

I wanted to know more about the aspects of the 15th century justice system that were embodied in these works and what these art works could tell us about that system and its fundamental beliefs. With the encouragement of Dr. Smith, I embarked on researching the topic for my master’s thesis. It became a fascinating voyage into civic patronage, legal history, 15th century belief systems on judgment and punishment and of course several of the major painters of the time.

Was this exhibition a natural extension of your previous work on the subject or something of a new approach?

My fascination with the subject never abated after my time at The University of Texas at Austin, although I did not actively continue research on the matter until recently for the exhibition at the Groeningemuseum in Bruges. When I was hired in 2010, I was thrilled that professionally, I had ended up at the very "home" of one of my favorite artworks: Gerard David’s Judgment of Cambyses. Being able to look at this work up close regularly rekindled the desire to delve into the subject matter again, but now from a presentational/curatorial perspective in the museum. The work—because of its very detailed depiction of a man being flayed alive—stops visitors in their tracks and leaves an impression. While most visitors will remember seeing the painting, it is because of its gruesome nature and not because of its function and context. I wanted to draw attention to that aspect of the work. David didn’t just paint something that is gruesome to look at, he left us with a work that embodies various aspects of 15th century belief system on justice and judging.

As a result, the idea of a small exhibition focusing on the theme of the Judgment of Cambyses and its popularity during the 16th and 17th centuries ensued. But very quickly as I got reacquainted with the topic, my wish list grew and I proposed a larger exhibition encompassing several works of art created in the context of justice from about 1450 to 1750, the period of the Ancien Régime.

During my initial research in graduate school, I had to consult quite a bit of a legal history in order to get around my topic. However, it was impossible to fully delve into a completely different area of study while doing a relatively small project like a thesis. So this time, for the exhibition, I wanted to make sure that we had both fields well covered. I approached a professor of law and legal history at the Institute for Legal History at the University of Ghent (Belgium) as I knew his research also focused on art works in a legal context. Professor Martyn was immediately enthusiastic to collaborate as an advisor on the exhibition project together with doctoral candidate Stefan Huygebaert, an art historian with a focus on legal iconography. A colleague specialized in museum education and outreach at the Groeningemuseum, Tine Van Poucke, co-curated the show and focused on how we would present an exhibition of this type to the museum visitor. Through this close collaboration, we complemented each other by bringing our areas of expertise together. I strongly believe in the strength and added value of interdisciplinary research and projects, and this was a great opportunity to bring two fields together. We wanted the catalogue of the exhibition to reflect this as well so the texts are written by legal as well as art historians.

Can you contextualize the exhibition for me? Can you speak to how it is situated within the mission and programming of the Groeningemuseum?

For this exhibition we started from our own rich collections in Bruges, not only the Groeningemuseum, but also the Bruggemuseum, the Brugse Vrije (one of the courthouses) and the Bruges Public Library. We then supplemented these works with relevant loans from national and international institutions and collectors. Several of the works are not from public collections so are not easily accessible. Not only are we presenting our own works in a new context, and making connections with similar art works from other collections, several of the works have not been in a museum for decades or come straight from civic buildings.

What are some of your favorite or most intriguing pieces on display during this exhibition? Why do they hold this place for you?

It is, of course, fabulous for me to see my favorite work by Gerard David surrounded by other works (paintings, drawings, stained glass, a manuscript illumination and prints) in the exhibition. The panels – which are large and very heavy— have a fixed place in the permanent collection. For this exhibition we were able to move them to a different gallery, in a different scenography and lighting, which places the panels quite literally in a new light. It has been astounding to observe that even people who are familiar with the paintings now look at the panels in a new way and notice details not seen before.

What do you see as the link between the law or the justice system and visual arts in general, and specifically as depicted within this exhibition?

The visual arts enforced the message and thus the meaning of the justice system, or rather, at that time, the belief system concerning justice and judgment. A good example of this visual codification are the legal writings of Joost De Damhouder.

De Damhouder was a Bruges lawyer who wrote several early treatises on civil and criminal law. (To be entirely correct, he plagiarized another book by a Ghent lawyer and supplemented it with narratives from his own professional experience.) Damhouder’s books, translated in several languages and published widely, became the foundation for later legal codices. The author insisted on having his books illustrated with woodcut prints. This was of such importance to him that he even delayed the publishing of his first edition in order to wait for the completion of the illustrations. Even though his texts are very thorough and descriptive, he insisted on having illustrations as they heightened and enforced the message to be conveyed even to a specialized audience. This was true for all the art works in this exhibition in which messages and iconography prevail – a picture speaks more than a thousand words, goes the saying. It must have run very true in the context of the justice system during the late middle ages.

In fact, most of the themes of the works in this exhibition originate in texts. This is especially so for the exempla iustitiae which are drawn from Biblical texts (e.g. Solomon) as well as legends and historical texts (e.g. Zaluecus, Trajan, etc.). The images were meant to have an impact on the aldermen/judges as they hung in plain sight while they performed their very important tasks.

Another link between the justice system and the visual arts exists in the depiction of Lady Justice with her nowadays well-known attributes the sword, scales and blindfold. This image is ubiquitous even in today’s society. In the exhibition, we focus on her development as iconic image symbolizing justice. We trace her development through the archangel Michael, the virtues and her iconography, which once included elements we no longer associate with justice today (like for example a stork). The blindfold, for instance, which today symbolizes impartiality originally held a negative connotation. We show the very first instance where Lady Justice is blindfolded mockingly by a fool in a 1494 woodengraving by Dürer (from Sebastian Brandt’s Ship of Fools). In this print, the fact that Justice is blinded and cannot see is a negative commentary.

What do you take from your time spent at UT? What has had the most impact on your current studies, research, and career?

My first years of graduate school at UT were immensely rewarding in many ways. As an undergraduate student, I had had many interests and pursued several majors that made me waiver from one thing to another at times. Then, in graduate school in the art history department, I realized that having a broad spectrum of interests was actually not a negative trait but beneficial to art historical research.

Many of our students hope to one day become curators. How did you achieve this goal?

I am convinced that any personal achievement is always the result of a combination of several values: belief in the type of work you do, persistence when things don’t work out as planned, flexibility and creating a network of people you admire. These combined with a little bit of luck of being in the right place at the right time, ensure that when an opportunity presents itself, you are prepared to act on it.

Becoming a curator was actually not my goal during graduate school. My goal then was to teach art history at a small liberal arts college in the United States. I wanted to instill in young adults who are about to embark into various careers a profound respect for and basic fundamental knowledge of art, heritage, culture and history.

But my path was laid out differently, and I ended up in a museum in Belgium (hence the importance of being flexible!). While prior to starting graduate school, I had worked at a contemporary art organization where I organized several small exhibitions, I had to learn most of the typical museum fundamentals during my current job. While at first I missed teaching and the contact with students, that aspect has been filled in by newly developed programs. The Flemish research centre for the arts in the Burgundian Netherlands has initiated academic programs that brings teaching into the museum(s). One is an intensive Summer Course, which brings Ph.D.-level students to Belgium for a 10-day submersion into collections, research institutions, etc., all guided by experts. Another caters to master’s-level students who come to the centre in Bruges twice over three days, where we introduce them to our collection of Flemish Primitives and the research field. In that way we hope to instill in them a profound interest in Flemish art of the 15th and 16th centuries. Through these programs and the internships that we provide, I have a new opportunity to work with students: my goal is to inspire them into turning their love for art history into their profession while they inspire me by their research endeavors.

Alumnus Michael Wellen to Become New Curator of International Art at Tate

Mon. October 31, 2016

Michael Wellen portrait against floral background
Michael Wellen

Michael Wellen (M.A. in Art History, 2005 and Ph.D. in Art History, 2012) has recently been named the new curator of  International Art at Tate. Wellen completed his master's and doctorate degrees at The University of Texas in Modern and Contemporary Art with a focus on Latin America. He will be bringing this expertise and focus to his work with Tate. 

For more information, read the article announcing his appointment on artnet

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