Department of Art and Art History News

Jonas Criscoe (B.F.A. Studio Art, 2006) presents work at Level Gallery

Thu. February 4, 2016

blue printed arrows pointed down
Image courtesy.

Jonas Criscoe (B.F.A. Studio Art, 2006) presents work in a group exhibition at Level Gallery. The exhibition will be on view January 28 – February 28, 2016.

Julia Guernsey presents a lecture entitled "Thinking about the Body—Whole and Fragmentary—in Mesoamerican Art" at the Kimbell Art Museum

Thu. February 4, 2016

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Julia Guernsey will give a lecture entitled "Thinking about the Body—Whole and Fragmentary—in Mesoamerican Art" at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. The lecture will take place February 19, 2015 at 6 p.m.

Ryan Hawk (M.F.A. candidate in Studio Art) studies the Pitch Lake in La Brea, Trinidad

Thu. January 28, 2016

Ryan Hawk (M.F.A. candidate in Studio Art) received a traveling fellowship from his B.F.A. alma mater. Hawk discusses his practice in an interview in Big Red and Shiny and shares his experience during the trip below.


I am currently a 2016 Traveling Fellow which is an award given to alumni from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to support travel and research for the production of new work. For my Traveling Fellowship I am studying the Pitch Lake in La Brea, Trinidad of Trinidad and Tobago. I was originally interested in traveling to the Pitch Lake because I found that the natural pitch from the lake struck a direct visual resemblance to GAK Polymer, a material that I have been using in my studio for several years. After visiting the lake for the first time, my fascination has now grown to include the labor practices and industrialization of the asphalt from the lake as well as the mythology as prescribed by locals who live near the lake. Moving forward, I plan to engage the unique aesthetic and physical properties of the lake in my studio for the production of a new body of work that will include drawing, sculpture and a performance-based video installation. Below are some images from my first trip to the lake:

photograph of pump house in field by pitch lake
Image courtesy of Ryan Hawk.

Overview of Pitch Lake and a pump house. Water collects on the surface of the Pitch Lake during the rainy season and can get as deep as six feet in places. The pump house is necessary to remove water so that the plant can collect the dry pitch (asphalt).

image of foamy substance and gas coming off pitch lake
Image courtesy of Ryan Hawk.

This foam is some kind separation of natural gases which seems to be intensified by the running water—a geological process I am unfamiliar with at this time. It smelled very much like methane.

tar-like gooey substance moving over dry tar
Image courtesy of Ryan Hawk.

Wet pitch slowly moving across the 'dry' surface of the lake.

dark wet matter running over dark ground
Image courtesy of Ryan Hawk.

Locals describe the wet pitch moving under the dry surface much like 'veins' in a body. Here, a vein has surfaced and is 'gooping' out.

yellow and orange minerals mixing wiht black tar
Image courtesy of Ryan Hawk.

Another strange geological process—the pitch is made of several natural gases, minerals and oils. When it separates, gold-like residue forms. I imagine this is why the first Western colonialists referred to the pitch as "Black Gold".

woman floating in black water
Image courtesy of Ryan Hawk.

In the cracks and crevices of the lake, water pools are common during the rainy season. Because the lake is constantly moving underneath and off-gassing various natural gases, minerals, and oils, some water pools are good for bathing. This image shows a sulfur pool with amazing neon-green colored water. Locals prescribe healing properties to these pools and some bath on a daily basis!

ryanhawk.info