Department of Art and Art History News

Lisa Laughlin Boyd: Supporting Diversity in the Arts

Thu. November 17, 2016

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two people looking at artwork


Lisa Laughlin Boyd grew up around art and around those who created artwork. Attending Fort Worth Country Day School in Dallas, she would take the evening classes in drawing and sculpture at what is currently The Modern in Fort Worth. At the beginning of her undergraduate career, she attended Vanderbilt University before realizing that she wanted to pursue art history in earnest and transferred to The University of Texas at Austin. What she realized then, and continues to emphasize today, about the strength of the UT Department of Art and Art History was its diversity in course offerings and intellectual excellence. Over the course of her B.F.A. in Art History (1972), she was able to take courses in art history, studio art and design. The experience would influence her choice to continue on at UT, earning her master’s degree in art history (1976) where she focused on contemporary American architecture. “I had an advisor, Blake Alexander, who was the Architectural Historian in the School of Architecture as well as Dr. Tom Reese, who would later go on to the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities. They helped me craft my master’s thesis on the work of Louis Kahn, specifically The Kimbell Art Museum and the Yale Center for British Art.”

But like other students who graduate from the Department of Art and Art History, Boyd’s life took an interesting turn. Some time after completing her master’s degree, Boyd went on to earn her M.B.A. in financial planning and become a Financial Planner in Dallas. She was brought back to Austin, and to her love of the arts, by the work of the administration at the Department of Art and Art History. “It was so exciting for me to be back in that [academic] environment where you work scholastically every day,” she said. “It was stimulating and different from what I was doing at home. I had a few friends on the council at that time and I just became very enthusiastic about bringing others aboard. Eventually, I just loved Austin enough to buy a lot and build a house and move here.”

As a society and as individuals, we’re at a moment when we’re being asked to invest socially and politically in the issues that matter to us. So we had to ask: How do you see the Director’s Council growing in the coming years and how can people get involved? “Well, first, you have to have the time,” said Boyd. “I always stress how much time you have to invest in the council and how much you get in return in terms of learning about your institution and your connections with UT.”

“In terms of where we’re going, the council is really looking to diversify, both in terms of experience with the University or Texas, and even with the arts,” said Boyd. “It’s important to get new blood and hear new voices.”

Boyd is a mainstay at Visual Arts Center events and the annual Open Studios, where the department opens its doors so that the public can get a glimpse of the work and workspaces of M.F.A. candidates in Studio Art and Design. A firm believer in supporting young artists across all disciplines, Boyd looks for work that stays with her long after initial viewing. “I don’t think of myself as a collector, per se,” Boyd said. “But I do collect.” As a practicing artist, Boyd prefers to paint representationally. However, when collecting works to decorate her own home, Boyd selects abstract works that challenge her. “It's all part of this huge tapestry of talent and creativity, you know?” Boyd reflected. “Back in the '60s or '70s, it might not have been considered valid to draw the figure or draw a landscape. But contemporary taste and criticism prize diversity and an appreciation for all sorts of expressions that enrich our lives.”

Boyd’s support for the arts, the Department of Art and Art History and individual artists’ work—whether in the form of an M.F.A. candidates’ work, the Director’s Council, or collaborating with architect Michael Hsu on the design of her home—comes from a sense that people should live with the objects that move them, that take them out of their own lives and enrich their experience. 

Professors and Alumni Speak at Oplontis Project Symposium at Montana State University

Wed. November 16, 2016

A professor--John Clarke--sits at a makeshift desk in the field site of Roman ruins
 

The Oplontis Project is a multidisciplinary study of Villa A (“of Poppaea”) and Villa B (“of Lucius Crassius Tertius”) at Oplontis within Torre Annunziata, Italy. Under the direction of Professor of Art History John R. Clarke and Director of the Center for the Study of Ancient Italy Michael L. Thomas of The University of Texas at Austin and in collaboration with Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei, an international team of scholars is working to publish definitive studies of all aspects of these sites.

In September, a symposium was held at Montana State University to share both the ancient and modern meaning concerning the “spirit of place” and the idea of “genius loci” in context of the two archaeological sites at the ancient Roman seaside town of Oplontis.

The symposium was recorded and can now be viewed on Youtube 

The symposium was organized by UT alumna Regina Gee (Ph.D. in Art History, 2003) and included John R. Clarke, Michael Thomas and alumnus Ivo van der Graaff (Ph.D. in Art History, 2013). The presenting scholars are part of a decade-long international collaborative study to preserve and publish the material record of this extraordinary joint site, and in so keeping it alive for future generations of scholars. In doing so, their inter-disciplinary, contextual studies illuminate how the physical setting influenced the culture and economics of this playground for Rome’s rich and famous on the Bay of Naples.
 

Professor Margo Sawyer Invited to Two International Artist Residences this Fall

Wed. November 16, 2016

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Villa in France basked in sunlight with cypress trees around
 

Professor of Sculpture & Extended Media Margo Sawyer will be in an artist-in-residence at the Dora Maar House in Ménerbes, France for the month of November. The Brown Foundation Fellows Program, based at the Dora Maar House in Ménerbes provides residencies of one to three months for mid-career professionals in the arts and humanities to concentrate on their fields of expertise.  Sawyer will be in residence with Emma Franz, an Australian filmmaker and musician, and Amina Gautier, a Brooklyn native and author of three award-winning short story collections. At the Dora Maar House Sawyer will continue her investigations on Synchronicity of Color.

 

an artist's studio that is awash in sunlight with light tables and lots of chairs
 

In December, Sawyer will be an artist-in-residence at Franz Meyer of Munich, the world’s leading international studio in the field of artistic glass and innovative mosaic work in architecture. Franz Meyer exclusively executes the designs of work from independent artists and designers. Sawyer aims to investigate various methods of interpreting her artistic vision into architectural art glass and mosaics at Franz Meyer.
 

Venice Biennale to Showcase work of UT Austin Professor Teresa Hubbard and Colleague Alexander Birchler

Mon. November 14, 2016

picture of Flora, vintage photograph on a blue background with handwriting
Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler
Flora, production still 
Courtesy the Artists and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin, Vera Munro Gallery, Hamburg.
 

Teresa Hubbard, professor of photography at the Department of Art and Art History and Alexander Birchler, a Swiss artist who is an affiliate research scholar at UT Austin, have been invited to create and showcase new work at the 57th annual Venice Biennale, one of the largest and most prestigious exhibitions of contemporary art in the world.

“Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler have a deft ability to create visually compelling works that reorder cultural myths while implicating the conventions of photography and film,” said Jack Risley, chair of the department of art and art history at UT Austin. “Hubbard brings an exacting standard to her collaborative work with Birchler, a standard that also characterizes her teaching at UT where she has a profound effect on our studio art program.”

Curator Philipp Kaiser of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia selected Hubbard and Birchler to show their work in the exhibition “Women of Venice” at the Pavilion of Switzerland. The exhibition explores the historical absence of artist Alberto Giacometti in the Swiss Pavilion at the Biennale. The artist was considered one of the most influential Swiss artists of the 20th century, but he repeatedly declined requests to represent Switzerland in the Venice Biennale.

In their work, Hubbard and Birchler use a documentary approach to delve into the archaeology of film. At the Biennale, they will present their film installation “Flora,” based on discoveries made in the course of their research on the largely unknown American artist Flora Mayo, who studied in Paris in the 1920s at the same time as Giacometti and became his lover. By weaving together fictional and documentary material, the artists reconstruct and re-imagine Flora Mayo’s life and work, while giving voice to her previously unknown son. Giacometti and Mayo’s relationship and their ensuing portrait reflect the creative energy generated by their collaborative artistic activity and also shed light on Giacometti’s early life.

This is the second time that Hubbard and Birchler have been invited to exhibit their work at the Venice Biennale. In 1999, curator Harald Szeemann invited them to participate in his group exhibition at the Giardini, “dAPERTutto.”

a silhouette of a structure against the setting sun whose colors are purple red and orange
Production still from Teresa Hubbard/Alexander Birchler’s Giant, 2014, 3-channel video installation; at Ballroom Marfa.


For the UT community, Hubbard and Birchler’s work will be on view at The Blanton Museum of Art in the summer of 2017 with Giant. “We are so fortunate to have internationally recognized artists Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler based in Austin and look forward to having Giant on view at the Blanton as their newest film debuts in the 2017 Venice Biennale,” writes Veronica Roberts, curator of modern and contemporary art at The Blanton.

Giant (2014), a three-channel video, takes as its subject a decaying movie set built outside of Marfa, TX for the 1956 Warner Bros. film Giant starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean. After the filming was completed, the three-sided façade was left behind in the landscape. “Hubbard and Birchler explore the skeletal remains of the set as seasons change, day turns to night, and parts of the structure swing and fall off,” Roberts writes. “Scenes of a film crew recording the current conditions are juxtaposed with a Warner Bros. office in 1955, where a secretary types up the location contract for the motion picture that has yet to be created.” Giant will open to the campus and Austin community on July 9, 2017.
 

Theater Company of kt Shorb Honored with B. Iden Payne Award

Fri. November 11, 2016

photograph of actor Jonathan Itchon with hair tied in a bun playing a traditional guitar
 
Jonathan Itchon, member of graduate coordinator and Theatre and Dance M.F.A. candidate kt shorb's theater company, was recently honored with the B. Iden Payne award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role (Musical Theatre) for his work in The Mikado: Reclaimed. The Mikado: Reclaimed flipped the Gilbert and Sullivan classic on its head, presenting an (almost) all-Asian American cast performing a devised theatre piece with select musical numbers from the (in)famous operetta. Set in an internment camp in the near future, internees seek humanity amidst racism, corruption, and xenophobia.