Department of Art and Art History News

M.F.A. candidates in Studio Art spend a nonstop weekend in New York City

Thu. March 31, 2016

man and woman walking through wood entryway with objects piled on doorway
Left to right: Rachael Starbuck and Anthony Creeden at Antarctica on view at Jane Lombard Gallery. Photo by Laura Brown.

Second year M.F.A. candidates in Studio Art traveled to New York City earlier this semester. However, this wasn’t a vacation weekend: the seven students visited over 25 galleries and six museums as a group (with time built into their schedule for additional individual visits to spaces of their choice).

“We got to see a lot of great art, courtesy of a tour with Gregory Volk,” says Laura Brown. “My favorite were the shows at Postmasters Gallery, which included a group show of small sculptures, all displayed on a huge, custom-made table, and another show of collaged embroideries by Sally Smart. We got to meet her and hear all about her process and practice from research to development to execution. As a person who really engages with process myself, that was interesting to hear about—especially since her materials and medium are not the most common or conventional.”

Gregory Volk, art critic, freelance curator and 2015 Viewpoint speaker, led the group on a day-long gallery tour that he organized. Volk even invited some of the exhibiting artists to come and talk to the students about their work.

“It was lovely to see Gregory again and to hear directly from gallerists and artists about the work we looked at,” Brown says, “It was great to hear Amy Sillman talk about her work and staying engaged with it after so many years of making and many life transitions. When I think about where I want to be in twenty years, I hope to have a practice with some longevity, and I know that doesn't just happen. It takes work and commitment and the ability to stay open and responsive to the world around you. I found it encouraging to meet artists at various stages of their careers and hear their experiences. Everyone has such a different story to tell.”

The trip is funded by an Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation grant as part of their Marketplace Empowerment for Artists program which works to provide professional artists with the skills necessary to navigate the contemporary art market. The students also met Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, 2015 UT Austin commencement speaker and College of Fine Arts Advisory Council member.

Left to Right: Assistant Professor Nicole Awai, Anthony Creeden, Laura Brown, Michael Muelhaupt, Rachael Starbuck, Darren Walker, Ryan Hawk, Gregory Volk, Leslie Waggener Professor in Sculpture Amy Hauft, Bucky Miller, Zachary Meisner.

“Darren Walker really is the energetic, enthusiastic, magical person we were told he would be,” Brown says. “We all researched the history of the Ford Foundation, Mr. Walker's biography, and the changes he has brought to the organization before our trip. We had such a short time with him, but I could have sat there chatting with him for hours.”

While the four days of travel and a packed itinerary make a long weekend, the visit familiarizes the students to New York and allows them to meet artists, gallerists, and curators before returning to the quiet of their studios.

“My friends in New York simply seem over saturated. But that's not to say that one is better than the other,” Miller says. “For me it's a matter of temperament. I want to be able to focus on what's going on in my studio.”

Brown adds, “I grew up in rural places, so I am partial to smaller cities and communities. For its size, Austin has a good mix of galleries, studios, and active artists. I think that in smaller communities, there is a closer connection between artists and art appreciators. It's more accessible and human.”

Alumna Adriana Corral interviewed on Texas Public Radio

Tue. March 22, 2016

woman in black dress stands in front of plants
Photo by Vincent Valdez.

Adriana Corral (M.F.A. in Studio Art, 2013) speaks to Texas Public Radio about her exhibition Under Erasure sous Rature at ArtPace.

Alumna Xochi Solis featured on Urban Outfitters blog

Tue. March 22, 2016

circular shapes cut from different media pasted on top of one another
Image courtesy.

Xochi Solis (B.F.A. in Studio Art, 2005) was featured in a studio visit on the Urban Outfitters blog.

UT Antiquities Action Conference: Global Initiatives Towards Cultural Heritage Preservation: Who Owns the Past? program

Mon. March 14, 2016

egyptian statue with gold warning lable
Photo source: ARCA/Tsirogiannis. Design by D C Trein.

Global Initiatives Towards Cultural Heritage Preservation: Who Owns the Past?

A UT Antiquities Action conference will take place April 2, 2016 and feature keynote speaker Salam al-Kuntar from the University of Pennsylvania. This conference is sponsored by Middle East Studies, Department of Classics and Department of Art and Art History.

8:30 a.m.

9 a.m.
Sterling Wright (The University of Texas at Austin)

Socialist Archaeology: Is It Worth Saving?
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is a country that resides just north of Greece. Following World War II, the country became one of the constituent republics of Yugoslavia. The government for this new country was based on what many scholars refer to as Marxism and socialism. Today, the general public in Macedonia disapproves this socio-political policy. In light of this, many have felt that the country should destroy all “archaeological remains” that have been associated with socialism. However, there is also a growing number of people in Macedonia to reevaluate this sort of action. They feel that even though their socialist history was a dark period, it is still part of their cultural identity. This presentation looks into the developments of socialist archaeology in Macedonia.

9:30 a.m.
Dr. Nathan Elkins (Baylor University)

Saving Our Past: The Centrality of the Trade in Ancient Coins
When we think about the illicit antiquities trade, we tend to focus on statues, sarcophagi, Greek vases, and other “monumental” objects. But the trade in “minor antiquities,” and especially in ancient coins, is an integral part of the illicit antiquities trade. Fortunately, in recent years, there has been greater attention paid to the role of the illicit trade in ancient coins. This contribution examines the centrality of the trade in ancient coins in the broader trade in Mediterranean antiquities, sourcing practices for the trade, the scale of the trade, and legal challenges mounted by coin dealers and their lobbyist.

10 a.m.
Dr. Susan Benton-Bruning (Southern Methodist University)

From Pueblo to Paris: The International Trade in Indigenous Cultural Objects
Abstract coming soon...

10:30 a.m.
Dr. David Stuart (The University of Texas at Austin)

The Looting of La Corona: A Case Study of Destruction, Archaeology and Preservation at an Ancient Maya Center
In the late 1960s a group of related sculptures and text fragments came to the attention of scholars, all looted from an unknown Maya ruin designated as “Site Q.” Epigraphic studies of these inscriptions revealed the outlines of royal history from this unidentified site, which evidently had close associations with other powerful Maya kingdoms during the 7th and 8th centuries. In 1997, the initial discovery and documentation of the ruins of La Corona revealed it to be the likely origin of nearly all of the Site Q materials. Archaeological investigations at La Corona since 2005 have uncovered many more sculptures, some parts of monuments looted decades ago. Efforts are now underway to restore La Corona’s monuments, merging data from both excavations and from collections, giving hope to what had once been a hopeless example of site destruction.

11 a.m.
Dr. Dale Correa (The University of Texas at Austin)

Writing Manuscripts into Cultural Heritage Preservation: The Role of Western Scholars in the Recovery of Knowledge
Often overlooked in cultural heritage preservation discourse, handwritten and print materials frequently meet a similar fate to that of art and architecture in conflict areas. In the mid-1990s, the Bosnian Manuscript In-Gathering Project sought to recover materials that had been destroyed or damaged during the war in the former Yugoslavia by asking researchers to contribute the copies of manuscripts and archival documents that they had procured in previous years. Taking cues from this project and others, the Aleppo Recovery Archive addresses the destruction of written cultural heritage in Aleppo, Syria, through strategic archiving of materials acquired by researchers before the onset of conflict. This project not only involves collaboration with scholars locally in Syria and internationally, but also challenges approaches to preservation, access and cultural patrimony in the context of the Middle East. It is hoped that the fruits of Western scholars’ privileged access and acquisition during fieldwork will help to recover some of what has been lost forever in Aleppo.

Noon – 1 p.m.

1 p.m.
Nicole Payntar (The University of Texas at Austin)

Local Identities in Global Contexts: Examining the Effects of Cultural Heritage Destruction in Conflict Zones
The recent surge in cultural heritage destruction and antiquities trafficking in Syria is occurring at an unprecedented rate. With most Western media outlets focusing their attention on high profile instances of heritage destruction at the hands of Da’esh, damage to archaeological sites by additional operatives in the country continues to be under reported. The sustained looting and trafficking of antiquities constitutes an irreparable loss of regional knowledge and presents adverse impacts on local identities. By assessing the damage and destruction of heritage sites by groups across Syria, patterns of social inequality and heritage hierarchy emerge. This paper will examine the consequences of cultural heritage destruction in terms of identity and the perception of regional power. It will also address the significance that cultural heritage may contribute toward rebuilding nations in post-conflict stages.

1:30 p.m.
Dr. Janice Leoshko (The University of Texas at Austin)

On the Invention of Heritage
In hindsight the many ensuing tragedies resulting from the events of September 11, 2001 are spectacularly foregrounded by the destruction of the colossal Buddhas at Bamiyan orchestrated by the Taliban in March 2001. This paper seeks to understand what has happened to the “image” of this famous site since that time within perspectives first developed in the insightful volume The Invention of Tradition, edited by Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger (1983). What are the results of the inscription of Bamiyan as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2003? What is at stake in “heritage production” within museum, academic and political contexts?

2 p.m.
Dr. Salam al-Kuntar (University of Pennsylvania)

Responses to the Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Syria and Iraq: A Critical Appraisal of Current Efforts
The destruction of cultural heritage in the current conflicts in Syria and Iraq is well known to the international heritage community. The common belief is that interventions to protect cultural heritage are extremely difficult to design and implement during conflict, and that both the Syrian and Iraqi crisis are particularly intractable for experts and heritage actors who are seeking to offer their assistance. In this presentation, I provide a critical appraisal of the responses that have been advanced to protect cultural heritage during the crisis to date. I argue that the mobilization of the international community and the varied responses that have been made are hindered by the real difficulty inherent in maintaining a professed rhetoric of universality and neutrality. I also offer some evidence that emergency heritage projects designed to address local needs inside Syria may offer some measure of success and hope for saving heritage and helping the people who are struggling to survive this war.

3 p.m.
Coffee + adjourn

Alumna Rachel Lee Hovnanian presents installation at 2016 Dallas Art Fair

Mon. March 14, 2016

baby dolls on pedestals with photograph hanging on wallpappered wall
Rachel Lee Hovnanian, Perfect Baby Showroom, 2014.

Rachel Lee Hovnanian (B.F.A. Studio Art, 1982) presents Perfect Baby Showroom as the solo feature of Leila Heller Gallery at the sixth annual Dallas Art Fair April 15–17, 2016.