Department of Art and Art History Austin

Alumni Spotlight: Meet Karen Cervantes, BFA in Visual Art Studies, 2013

Thu. March 26, 2015

woman in black shirt posing for portrait in front of dark back drop
 

Karen Cervantes (BFA in Visual Art Studies, 2013) teaches at Zavala Elementary School in Austin, Texas.

Professor Christina Bain: What has surprised you about teaching these past few years?

Karen Cervantes: The students’ engagement is crucial to the whole art lesson. The more engaged they are, the better the effort in their work and the more meaning they add to their artwork. I’m surprised at how well I’ve learned to think on my feet because no matter how organized and planned I’ve been, something unexpected always comes up like fire drills, paint spills or never-ending waiting time. Also, the environment in the art classroom is completely different from the students’ regular classrooms and I’ve been learning to embrace the differences. It’s okay to have an organized “chaotic” art class.

 

CB: What aspects of the program at UT Austin most prepared you for post-grad life?

KC: My art education classes completely changed my perspective on how to view art and its significance in our society. Art can be an educational tool, a voice, an opinion... not just a hobby. Elementary students can be taught about big ideas such as social justice, identity, and culture. Elementary art doesn’t just have to be the basics of art or cookie-cutter art; it can be full of meaning and importance too. My passion for art and for teaching has grown and it’s all thanks to my amazing and unforgettable professors Dr. Christina Bain, Dr. Paul Bolin and Dr. Kara Hallmark.  

CB:   What advice would you give to graduating students?

KC: Once you’ve landed the job, building your classroom environment is completely on you. I did not want to emphasize my classroom rules my first year and mid-year, I was having a ton of behavior problems. Lesson learned. You can still be the cool hip art teacher but with some cool hip structure in the classroom. As a second year teacher, I take advice from veteran teachers all the time and one I keep hearing is to be consistent with your consequences. Don’t be afraid when administrators or mentors come watch you teach. Their criticism or suggestions can end up helping you and how things flow in the classroom.


Related topics:

Student Spotlight: Meet some of our newest BA in Art History graduates
Student Spotlight: Meet some of our our newest BFA and BA Studio Art graduates

Student Spotlight: Meet Caleigh Taylor, BFA in Visual Art Studies
Alumni Spotlight: Meet Lucy Parker, BFA in Studio Art, 2012

Student Spotlight: Meet some of our newest BA in Art History graduates

Thu. March 26, 2015

woman wearing glasses and white shirt with yellow hair poses for portrait

Jenna Ahonen

Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Art in Art History

Tell us a little about your background.
I have grown up all over the world but I graduated from high school in Southlake in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I decided to attend UT Austin mainly because of how highly regarded it is as a university but also because I was interested in exploring a diverse new city like Austin at the same time.

What lead you to your research topic?
My research topic focuses on the manifestation of the Constructivist art and architecture movement in Finland due to Russia's influence. Focusing on the Constructivist movement was ideal for me as it incorporated both of my degrees. In addition, my entire family is Finnish so I already had an interest in the specific region.

What was the greatest thing you learned from working with your faculty advisors throughout the program?
It may sound cliché, but I'm truly thankful for how supportive my faculty advisors have been throughout my entire time at the university. They have all taught me that it is completely possible to achieve everything one step at a time, whether it be my aspirations to double major or write a senior thesis.

What are your plans for the future?
Who knows! I have learned to love the process of design throughout my time in the architecture school but am not so sure that I am fully committed to designing
such large scale projects as buildings in the future. I find myself more interested in designing on a much smaller scale and am looking to working either in the industrial design or fashion design field upon graduation.


woman in red sweater and blue scarf poses for photo in front of tree

Erin Coupal

BA in Art History

Tell me a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in Austin. After graduating from high school in 2005, I went to a small college in Portland, Oregon for a few years. In 2008, I returned to Austin to pursue my interest in art conservation. I volunteered at Women & Their Work gallery, worked as an artist's assistant, and interned with a local conservator. While my work experience was invaluable, I needed to finish my degree in order to continue in my chosen field. I was already working with the Landmarks collection and given how invested I already was in the art community in Austin and the wealth of resources available at UT Austin, it made sense for me to stay in Austin to finish my degree. I currently work with the prints and drawings collection at the Ransom Center and continue to work with Landmarks.

What lead you to your research topic?
My interest in art conservation stems from a desire to ensure access to and support for art in every capacity. In every form of art (visual, musical, performance, literary, etc.) there is incredible expressions of individuals and communities. Creative expression is a universal one, so the work I do in some small way contributes to protecting that.

What was the greatest thing you learned from working with the faculty throughout the program?
My time at UT Austin has been a busy one (at one point I was juggling 4 jobs while in school full time). My various professors have certainly inspired my path. Dr. Stephennie Mulder, who specializes in Islamic Art and Architecture, has imparted a passion that extends beyond the academic realm. She incorporates her work as an archaeologist and her passion for the protection of cultural heritage into both her classes and her work with the UT Antiquities Action group. Dr. Jeffrey Chipps Smith, who specializes in Northern Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture, truly opened my eyes to the depth with which one can become acquainted with their chosen field. His high expectations of his students has pushed me many times to dig deeper into my research.

What are your plans for the future?
This summer, I will be volunteering in the paper conservation lab at the Harry Ransom Center, gaining valuable knowledge and experience in that specific field of conservation (so far, I have only worked with three-dimensional objects). I will be taking some additional chemistry and studio art classes, and eventually, will apply for a graduate program in art conservation. It is my hope to eventually work as a conservator with an emphasis on public art, be that around a city or in a museum.


woman with green scarf and black jacket poses for picture in Italy
 

Jessica Thompson  

BA in Art History
Recipient of a Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the Office of the Vice President and the Research or Conference travel Scholarship from the Office of Undergraduate Research to conduct a site visit in Pisa, Italy.

Tell me a little about yourself.
I grew up in Dallas, Texas. I’m a transfer student from another university, where I was an Illustration/Art History double major. I developed an interest in Museum Studies and wanted to come to a place where I had more resources to pursue a museum career. UT Austin has a great Art History program and the university is so big that you can pursue any interest you want. It turned out to be the perfect place for me.

What lead you to your research topic?
My research project is an extension of a paper I wrote for Art Historical Methods, the senior level research methodology class for Art History majors, about Nicola Pisano’s pulpit for the Pisa Baptistery. I became really interested in the Baptistery and its civic significance in medieval Pisa, and decided to pursue it for my honors thesis.

What was the greatest thing you learned from working with the faculty throughout the program?
I think the greatest thing I learned from working with my faculty advisor is the value of collaboration and communication. Dr. Ann Johns, my advisor, is incredibly supportive. She's helped me find sources, given me additional readings, and has asked a lot of questions that helped me think through my ideas and synthesize the information I've found. She’s challenged me to think deeply and critically about my project and working with her has been really rewarding.

What are your plans for the future?
I hope my future finds me working somewhere in museum education. I’ve been working with Teen Programs at the Thinkery for the past year and absolutely love it; I really enjoy sharing my passion for art and education with others.


Related:

Student Spotlight: Meet some of our our newest BFA and BA Studio Art graduates

Student Spotlight: Meet Caleigh Taylor, BFA in Visual Art Studies
Alumni Spotlight: Meet Karen Cervantes, BFA in Visual Art Studies, 2013

Alumni Spotlight: Meet Lucy Parker, BFA in Studio Art, 2012

Kimbell Foundation grant supports Art History course, Seminars on Site, pilot in Fall 2015

Thu. March 26, 2015

image of Rome at dusk with buildings and landscape blurring into darkness
Image courtesy of Penelope Davies

The Department of Art and Art History received a grant from the Kimbell Foundation that will enable the first course offering of Seminars on Site.

“To our knowledge, the proposed seminar would be unique among art history programs nationwide,” remarked Dr. Penelope Davies, assistant chair of Art History. “This seminar will enhance the reputation of the Department of Art and Art History and increase the department’s appeal for prospective students.”

The pilot seminar, entitled Architecture and Decoration in Pre-modern Rome: Patronage, Politics, and the Past, will be offered to graduate Art History students in the Fall semester in 2015. Taught by Dr. Penelope Davies and Dr. Joan Holladay, the seminar will travel to Rome.

Each iteration of the seminar will be co-taught by two members of the Art History faculty, drawn from different areas of specialization, and will address a theme that is pertinent to both areas of expertise. During the course of the semester, seminar participants will make two class trips: one to the Kimbell Art Museum to study its collections and view objects that are central to the themes highlighted in the course, and the other will last one week to ten days and will target a destination, usually abroad, that is pertinent to one of the areas covered in the class.

This seminar will create a formal structure that encourages exchange between students and faculty of diverse areas and builds bridges between them, precisely as disciplines are growing increasingly balkanized throughout academia. Students will learn from one another, from their faculty, and also from observing the interplay between the faculty members.
 

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