Artist Katy McCarthy is the first recipient of the St. Elmo Arts Residency and fellowship, which is presented by the Department of Art and Art History and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin. The residency will take place over the 2018-19 academic year and will include a solo exhibition at the Wildflower Center.

Launching in fall 2018, the St. Elmo Arts Residency offers one fellowship each academic year to a newly minted M.F.A. artist in painting, drawing, print, photo, sculpture or multimedia. The residency aims to support emerging artists and the creation of new work by providing dedicated studio and living space in South Austin in addition to a $30,000 stipend. Each fellow will further engage with the UT Austin community through classes and lectures at UT Austin and at the Wildflower Center.  

The 2018-19 Fellow, Katy McCarthy, earned her M.F.A. in Combined Media at Hunter College in New York City this spring. “Katy McCarthy works in the realm of video performance, but true to her degree moniker, she often makes installations for her films to exist in their perfect world,” said chair of the Department of Art and Art History Jack Risley. “She is an exciting artist, and we are thrilled by the prospect of having her as part of our community for the next year.”

Conceptualizing her projects as “video time travel,” McCarthy immerses herself in research, seeking the specificity of her subject matter. Her recent films revolve around historical female figures for whom she imagines conversations that span the centuries. In one, Mary Todd Lincoln frets about overspending the congressional budget as she redecorates the White House; in another, Manet’s muse/model admits to her nervous breakdown in a Skype chat. With a critical eye, these films capture 19th-century manners bumping up against contemporary mores and behaviors.

McCarthy thinks of her work as connecting emotionally to complex women throughout history, finding particular interest in the narratives of First Ladies. Next year, she will deepen that exploration through a focus on former first lady Lady Bird Johnson as part of her collaboration with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

“The Wildflower Center is a focal point of Mrs. Johnson’s environmental legacy,” said Patrick Newman, executive director of the Wildflower Center. “We are excited to see McCarthy’s creativity and passion shed further light on Mrs. Johnson’s vision and our increasingly important mission.”

About the Department of Art and Art History

The Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin includes the divisions of Art Education, Art History and Studio Art. It reflects the rigorous standards of a flagship institution, while offering an intimate environment for students to train as scholars, artists and educators in the arts.

About the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

The University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is the official state botanic garden and arboretum of Texas. It inspires the conservation of native plants through its public gardens, educational programs, research, and consulting work and serves as an important resource for university faculty and students.

About the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin

The College of Fine Arts educates artists, scholars and future arts educators in a context that emphasizes artistic excellence, advanced technology, cultural diversity and best professional practices. The college places a high priority on research and the creation of new work through its many divisions and departments, including among others, the Butler School of Music, the Department of Art and Art History, the Department of Theatre and Dance, the School of Design and Creative Technologies, Texas Performing Arts, the university’s arts presenting organization, and Landmarks, the university’s public art program. A comprehensive visual and performing arts college, degree concentrations from the B.A. to Ph.D. are offered in classical music and composition to acting, dance and scenic design to studio art and arts education, as well as the scholarly study of the arts in a broad range of disciplines.

May 29, 2018
Studio Art