Q+A Martha Hviid, graduate exchange student from Royal College of Art in London
Thu. December 18, 2014
You have been on exchange from the Royal Collect of Art in London (RCA) for the fall semester. What interested you in studying abroad at The University of Texas at Austin?
Well, to me it was a matter of several factors coming into place. First of all, when this exchange was announced to us at the Sculpture program at the RCA, I thought it would be one of the craziest things I could do. I had just settled in London and was really excited about being there. Our MA program is only two years long, so going away for 3 months out of this seemed like a long time. But the more I thought about it, it made sense for me to go explore a place of such different scale. I’m thinking not only the university, but Austin as a city, and Texas as a state.
Returning to the United States (I’ve lived in L.A. previously) seemed like a healthy way to come full circle with a lot of things in my life and thereby also in my art. From experience I think it’s often a good idea to do the thing that seems the craziest or most daunting—jumping into the water and then learning to swim. I applied and, fortunately, got selected by the faculty at the RCA. My practice isn’t very studio-bound so it was fairly easy for me to pick up my stuff and just go.
Would you describe the themes that you work with? What drives your interest in them?
I think, to many artists, being asked these two questions feels like getting caught in the headlights. It’s quite paralyzing having to sum this up in a short and clear way. I usually tell people that I work with perception, though not just in sensory way but also often in a more phenomenological way. I am very interested in how we as humans orient and place ourselves in context and space. I’m curious about where the central nervous center of the body lap over into the more intangible and, to use the perfect German word Geistlich, which refers to both spirit and ghost, mind, and essence.
You've talked about impressions as a theme that recurs through your work. The exchange program seems to fit right into that. Can you describe how you've felt impacted in even this short time?
I think most art students collect impressions, and they try and make sense of it all in their brains and bodies. I think a lot of art is about being confused and then trying to figure out the confusion—or even surrendering to it. For me, traveling (meeting new people and seeing new places) is like stirring the pot, adding a bit of unknown and confusion. In that way it gives me something to work with.
There is a very different physical feeling of being in tense, compact, busy London and spread out, warm, laid back Austin. Some have asked me which I prefer, but to me it’s really not about that, it’s about knowing (or trying to know) both. I’m from Copenhagen in Denmark, which is a third version. Even though I love it in Denmark, I can’t imagine I would have become a very good artist if I had just stayed there, in this unstirred pot, for my whole life.
What has been the most surprising experiences while you have been here?
I don’t think I get surprised as much as I get excited. I’ve generally had a really wonderful time here. In a way, I think the most surprising thing has been how easy it was fitting in, making friends, and getting things to happen. It was brilliant to get the opportunity to have my own show in Fieldwork Projects. I think it was a great exercise and a good practice for when I get back to London and have to start working on my graduate show. In my time here, I got to meet some very inspiring persons, including the artist and musician Laurie Anderson, the retired astronaut Alan Bean, and a variety of Austin-based curators and the school’s faculty.
The most overwhelming thing, though, must be the friendliness, generosity, and talent that the graduate students at the studio art program have shown me. Not in my wildest dreams would I have imagined this kind of energy and inspiration being channeled. I deeply hope I can stay in contact with this group of people because this has been the main reason why I feel so privileged to have done this exchange.
Alumni organize and present work in exhibition at Blue Star Contemporary
Fri. December 12, 2014
Erina Duganne, PhD Art History, 2004, co-organized Northern Triangle at Blue Star Contemporary in San Antonio. The exhibition includes work by Adriana Corral, MFA Studio Art, 2013, and Ricky Yanas, MFA Studio Art, 2011, and will be on display December 4, 2014 – February 15, 2015.
Jules Buck Jones presents work at McMurtrey Gallery
Tue. November 25, 2014
Jules Buck Jones (M.F.A. Studio Art, 2008) presents new work at McMurtrey Gallery in Houston, Texas. The exhibition, ¿Do Geese See God? will be on display December 6, 2014 – January 3, 2015.
Gracelee Lawrence presents work in an exhibition at BLUEorange gallery
Mon. November 24, 2014
Gracelee Lawrence, MFA candidate in Studio Art, presents work in Eupepsia at BLUEorange Contemporary in Houston, Texas.