Thu. March 30, 2017
The Blanton Museum of Art re-opened its doors on Feb 12, 2017 to a completely reimagined presentation of its galleries and permanent collection. In its new incarnation, the ancient American and Latin American galleries have been enriched by the addition of The Art and Art History Collection (AAHC) on loan from the Department of Art and Art History. Consisting of ancient artifacts, ethnographic materials and historical objects primarily from the Americas, the breadth and depth of the collection spans approximately 5,000 invaluable objects for research and studious exploration.
“Many people in Austin know that the Blanton was a pioneer in the field of Latin American art, but for the last decade, visitors have only had a glimpse of that interest, through temporary exhibitions and programs,” says Curator of Latin American Art Beverly Adams to the Austin American-Statesman. “The new installation of the permanent collection will be the first time in our current building that major movements and ideas in Latin American art have been represented.”
The Art and Art History Collection ranges from early Pre-Columbian ceramics to twentieth-century hand-crafted textiles, from small lithic bifacial points (ex. hand axes, spear points) to life-size wooden sculptures. Supplemented by cultural holdings from the Texas Memorial Museum and objects from Duncan and Elizabeth Boeckman of Dallas, Texas, the most substantial holdings of the collection pertain to the Pre-Columbian cultures across the Americas.
The process of integrating the long-term loan of the AAHC into the new Blanton galleries offered yet another opportunity for the department and the museum to intersect through the work of the Mesoamerica Center and art history undergraduate and graduate student assistants. “As someone interested in museum work and ancient American art, it was an amazing opportunity to assist with the installation,” writes art history master’s degree candidate Kendyll Gross. “I came to The University of Texas at Austin as Art History Lecturer and Assistant Director of the Mesoamerica Center Dr. Astrid Runggaldier and the Blanton were creating a plan of action, so I have been active with the project from the very start.”
“The first thing that awed me about the collection was its diversity and sheer size. There are over a thousand objects hailing from different regions and time periods of Latin America,” writes Gross. “I loved scanning through everything we could choose from. I would research items from the collection and compare them to similar objects in museums across the country. I would flip through the Metropolitan or LACMA’s online databases and think ‘Wow, we have something just like that here at UT!’
A vital resource for the student and scholarly community as well as the greater community of Austin, a selection of The Art and Art History Collection objects and textiles can be viewed in the new Blanton gallery devoted to the art of the Ancient Americas, and in the gallery of Native American art.
Mon. March 27, 2017
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.
Thu. March 23, 2017
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.
Wed. March 22, 2017
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.
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.
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.
Professor Joan Holladay Invited to Lecture at Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures in Hamburg
Mon. March 20, 2017
The Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures engages in fundamental research on the diversity of manuscript cultures. In early March, the center invited Art History Professor Joan Holladay along with scholars of manuscripts from across the globe to share their research in Hamburg, Germany during a workshop titled, “The Illustration of History in Medieval Manuscripts.”
Meant to address the question of the illustration of historical texts in both Western European and Persian traditions, the colloquia in March brought together specialists from Europe, the United States and Turkey, to provide a comparative approach to many common questions in the field. Holladay’s presentation focused on her research in western medieval art, specifically focusing on cases where manuscript illustrations depart from patterning manusc imagery after its accompanying text and choose to depict family trees.
“My paper examined three different kinds of chronicles whose illustrations depart from this expected pattern in which the images illustrate events narrated in the text,” writes Holladay. “All three replace such narrative imagery with family trees, diagrams that are not generated by the text. If the choice of narrative episodes to illustrate the events in more typically illuminated chronicles reveal an understanding of the text, I ask: ‘How do such family trees elaborate, supplement, or gloss the text?’”