Department of Art and Art History Studio Art

Essay by Nicole Awai featured on Art Matters

Mon. October 12, 2015

colorful design drawing on white paper
Image courtesy of the artist.

An essay by Nicole Awai is featured on Art Matters in recognition of her 2013 award.

Michael Smith featured in MOMUS

Mon. October 5, 2015

 Cartoonish drawing of people
Image courtesy of the artist.

Professor Michael Smith was featured in MOMUS in response to his exhibition, Excuse me!?!…I’m looking for the “Fountain of Youth."

New full-time lecturers appointed in Design and Studio Art

Wed. September 30, 2015

three photos of two women and man
From left to right: Cassandra Cisneros, Bethany Johnson, and James Walker.

The Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin is pleased to announce three new full-time lecturers in the areas of Design and Studio Art.

Cassandra Cisneros joins the department as a lecturer in Design. Cisneros received an M.F.A. in Graphic Design from the California Institute of the Arts. Before entering graduate school, she worked for the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Blanton Museum of Art as in-house graphic designer. Her thesis at CalArts explored the graphic language of candy packaging and sugar’s historical relevance to immigration.

Bethany Johnson joins the department as a lecturer in Foundations, the department's first-year experience for all majors. Johnson is an artist and designer based in Austin, Texas. Her work revolves around the study of systems, and the visual representation of information. She received an M.F.A. in painting from UT Austin in 2011, and her work is represented by Moody Gallery in Houston, Texas. A number of her most recent pieces are currently on view at 516 Arts in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and her work will also be shared with Austin this winter at The Mom Gallery.

James Walker joins the department as a lecturer in Design. Walker is a graphic designer who aims to make good things for good people. He is the founder of the collaborative studio, Husbandmen, and previously lectured on graphic design at Washington University, Santa Reparata International School of Art and the University of Missouri. Walker received an M.F.A. in Design, Visual Communication from Virginia Commonwealth University. During his studies, he presented his research on community engagement at Design Research Society in Bangkok, Thailand and Richmond’s first TEDx. His award-winning work has been featured in a variety of international design blogs, books and magazines.

Q+A with alumnus Dave Woody and Professor Teresa Hubbard

Wed. September 30, 2015

Dave Woody received a B.F.A. in Photography from Colorado State University in Fort Collins and an M.F.A. in Studio Art from The University of Texas at Austin in 2007. In 2009 he was the winner of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, which is a competition open to all media. As a result, the National Portrait Gallery commissioned him to make a portrait of Alice Waters, activist and chef. That portrait was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in January 2012.

Woody has lived and taught in Colorado and Virginia, and has exhibited throughout the country and internationally. He currently teaches photography at Humboldt State University in California. His photographs have appeared in The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Elle Decor, and M Le Magazine Du Monde.

He answered questions from Teresa Hubbard, the William and Bettye Nowlin Professor in Photography.

man in glasses and white shirt poses for photo
Image courtesy of Dave Woody.

Teresa Hubbard: For me, one of the most powerful elements in your photographs is how your images make me reflect on what it means to be alone. The French writer, philosopher and literary theorist, Maurice Blanchot, a ‘camera shy’ kind of person during his lifetime, remarked about himself as a writer, that it was comical to recognize his solitude by addressing a reader and by using methods that actually prevented him from being alone. How do you see this quality of what I’d describe as a kind of exquisite ‘aloneness’ in your work?

Dave Woody: I think what you see in my work is a trace of my interaction with the people that I photograph. The place from which I approach people is one of curiosity—I’m an introverted person and I use the camera as a way to engage with the world. With a portrait one is able to look again and again with impunity. That desire on my part to look often feels like it comes from a lonely place.

The subjects I choose often stand out in a quiet kind of way. What I look for in an image is when there is some kind of 'slippage' between public and private identity, although I hesitate to go as far as Diane Arbus in showing the sadness of that disparity. I’m looking for a moment where a person appears stripped of self-consciousness and reveals a vulnerable quality.

man standing in front of wire fence
Pacific #6, 2014, archival digital print, 16 x 20 inches

I remember one of our critiques in which you said my work sometimes was too nice—that it could stand to be sharpened up a bit—and I often think of that conversation. It’s the need as an artist to go beyond mere flattery and to edge into something deeper about the human experience.

TH: What is the role, or what kind of humor is to be found there?

DW: If I see humor in my work it tends to involve that 'slippage'—how someone believes they are presenting a certain image to the world can be at odds with how the world may perceive them. Again, I try not to be cruel, but I like to subvert notions of masculinity or toughness—I like finding a moment in which a tough façade is replaced by something soft or gentle. This all gets at the fictive nature of photography—that these images are split second moments chosen by me to reveal something more about what I want to say about the world and less about some kind of truth about the person portrayed.

man standing on trail by hill
Pacific #12, 2015, archival digital print, 16 x 20 inches

TH: How has your life and work changed since graduating?

DW: I’ve taught at several different universities, photographing along the way. I’m currently in Northern California at Humboldt State University. I got married, and my wife and I have a 4-year-old daughter, so that has been a big change in life. Most of my life is devoted to either my family or photography in some form or another.

I see some of my work evolving into an exploration of a kind of 'social documentary'—where my concerns are less insular and private—and this reflects my own interest in examining current issues in the U.S.

person standin in distance by hill and river
Pacific #2, 2015, archival digital print, 16 x 20 inches

TH: What are you working on now?

DW: I’m currently working on a series along the Highway 101—of hitchhikers and travelers and homeless people, and the landscape along the highway.

I’m also working on a series of color images of gender-neutral persons—I find it fascinating that our way of thinking of gender is evolving so rapidly. I’d like viewers to come away from the experience thinking primarily about what it means to be human, regardless of the idea of gender.

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