Department of Art and Art History News

UT Austin professors speak out against proposed elimination of NEA and NEH

Thu. March 16, 2017

In a bid to reduce domestic spending, the White House has proposed the elimination of multiple federal programs including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in its budget priorities, according to details outlined by The Hill and The New York Times.

This is not the first time that the NEA and NEH have come under fire. In the 30-year history of the NEA, the agency has continued to work to support excellence in the arts and humanities despite continuous political opposition. In response to the recent threat to both agencies, a host of arts leaders at UT Austin have spoken out against the latest budget proposal, including Art History Professor Eddie Chambers, Art History Professor John Clarke, and Stephen Enniss, director of the Harry Ransom Center.

UT Austin professors have argued against the notion that the combined budgets of the NEA and NEH—totaling some $148 million each (about .5% of the requested $54 billion increase in defense spending)—will move the needle on reducing deficit spending. “Given that cutting the NEH/NEA will do virtually nothing to positively impact the nation's deficit, this planned axing represents a serious diminishment in the cultural and educational life and health of the nation,” writes Chambers in The Dallas Morning News. “Doubtless we would all agree that the nation continues to grapple with monumental problems on a great many fronts, but the continued operating of these agencies is most assuredly not among these problems. Quite the reverse.”

Since 1984, the NEA and NEH have contributed an estimated $14,942,822 to the success of multiple projects across the university as well as faculty publications and research benefiting the UT student body, the city of Austin and the wider scholarship of arts and culture. Among them, Art History Professor Jeffrey Smith has seen his research sustained over 25 years by NEH support, beginning with a subvention grant from the NEH in 1984 for New Perspectives on the Art of Renaissance Nuremberg: Five Essays, a book he edited to a six-month research fellowship from the NEH in 2008, which ultimately grounded the research presented in his book, Dürer (London: Phaidon Press, 2012).

As Chambers made clear, the NEA and the NEH are vital to the cultural and educational health of the nation, including those that affect the academic and professional lives of those on the UT Austin campus. Speaking on behalf of the Oplontis Project, an archaeological study devoted to the excavation, study, and publication of the site of Oplontis in Italy, professor John Clarke spoke to The Daily Texan, “It’s impossible to think about continuing research without the NEH, particularly since the humanities are so terribly underfunded in general. The important part of the NEH is to remember that the humanities feed into and overlap with both the hard and soft sciences, so it’s literally a way of bridging disciplines.”

It remains to be seen how the Budget and Appropriations committees will handle the White House budget, but as professors from the Department of Art and Art History know and will attest, the NEH and NEA are critical to America’s legacy of artistic excellence and cultural investment.
 

The Secret Life of Lance Letscher spotlighting life and work of alumnus Lance Letscher premieres at South by Southwest

Thu. March 9, 2017

white middle-aged man with glasses and white baseball cap looks at camera
Lance Letscher. Image courtesy of The Austin Chronicle. Photo by Todd V. Wolfson


Lance Letscher (B.F.A. in Studio Art, 1985; M.F.A. in Studio Art, 1989) has been a mainstay on the Austin arts scene since graduating from The University of Texas at Austin in the 80s, but with the premiere of the full-length documentary The Secret Life of Lance Letscher, his 30-year career is given its full due. In anticipation of the South by Southwest (SXSW) release, The Austin Chronicle has published an article introducing the documentary’s subject and interviews from the director Sandra Adair and cinematographer Jason Gamble Harter.

The Secret Life of Lance Letscher will screen at 11:15am on March 12, 2017 at the Alamo Ritz in Austin for SXSW.
 

Alumnus Ender Martos exhibits temporary, site-specific installation in pop-up exhibition/designer showcase

Wed. March 8, 2017

monofilament wires in yellow, red, pink, blue and green are used within a square
Ganzania-Rebirth, Ender Martos, 2017


East Side Collective and Atmosphere Coworking will showcase a temporary, site-specific installation and new works from Department of Art and Art History alumnus Ender Martos (B.F.A. in Studio Art, 2008) on March 9, 2017. The opening reception for the event is on Thursday, March 9 from 7 – 11 p.m. and will be on view until March 23.

four columns of wire in various colors displayed in a maquette of installation
Graceful Sanctuary of Minimal Presence II, Ender Martos, 2017

Martos specializes in creating colorful experiences of optical movement, shifting the viewer’s perception of the space and materials as they move around the work. “When light interacts with the translucent material, light travels in, through and out creating a sense of movement,” he writes. For this site-specific installation, Martos will be using commercial monofilament wire, aluminum and concrete to activate the space with the intent of initiating an immediate, joyful visual impact. 

East Side Collective is a studio space shared by creative minds cofounded by Jared Hass, Tim Derrington, and Javier Martin. This entity helps lead Austin into thoughtful, innovative design while offering an authentic piece of Austin's creative culture. Atmosphere Coworking builds strong connections with others in the Austin digital creative and design community.
 

Work by MFA candidate Ingrid Tremblay featured in exhibition Tumble

Tue. March 7, 2017

woven strands of yarn-like paper strewn together and tumbled to resemble foam
 

M.F.A. candidate in Sculpture Ingrid Tremblay featured alongside Allison Wade in the exhibition titled Tumble at Slow gallery in Chicago. 

MFA candidate Kat Kohl contributes to panel on art and science of spatial perception at SXSW

Thu. March 2, 2017

four persons doused in a reddish light, speaking on a panel together
Kat Kohl speaking at KUTX's Views & Brews programming at Cactus Cafe
Photo credit: Stephanie Ramirez 

M.F.A. candidate in Studio Art Kat Kohl presented together with Associate Professor of Architecture Matt Fajkus and Assistant Professor of Neuroscience Dr. Laura Colgin on a South by Southwest Education (SXSWedu) panel moderated by Rebecca McInroy, Senior Producer and Host of KUT.org. The panel session, "The Art & Science of Spatial Perception," discussed how memory, form and light influence internal and external representations of our experiences.

We sat down with Kohl to get a glimpse into the discussion that would transpire during SXSWedu and learn more about Kohl's work. 

To learn more about the session, visit here.  

Kohl, Fajkus and Colgin also joined KUT's Views and Brews at the Cactus Cafe on February 28 to share there efforts and collaborative discussion with the University of Texas and greater Austin community.