Department of Art and Art History News

Michael Smith at the Whitney Museum of American Art

Fri. November 1, 2013

View of Michael Smith's performance, Mike's House.
Michael Smith, Mike’s House, performance at Whitney Museum of American Art, February 19–March 11, 1982. Courtesy of the artist.

Professor Michael Smith’s work appears in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s new exhibition, “Rituals of Rented Island: Object Theater, Loft Performance, and the New Psychodrama – Manhattan 1970-80.”

The exhibition illuminates a radical period of 1970s performance art that flourished in downtown Manhattan. Smith also appears in a The New York Times feature on the exhibition, describing the show as a “scrappy but absorbing archival exhibition” of a period when performance art was “funky and clunky, beyond modernism, or maybe perversely beneath it, meant to reflect a world in which materials were transient, models useless, values shifty.”

The exhibition will be on view until Feb. 2, 2014.

Blanton Museum of Art and Department of Art and Art History Announce Fellowship Program

Thu. October 31, 2013

The Blanton Museum of Art received a $504,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to pilot an innovative and rigorous fellowship program for art history doctoral students in the Department of Art and Art History:

"We are grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for this prestigious and very generous award,” said Blanton Director Simone Wicha. “By integrating the classroom experience with museum training, this program will transform the Blanton’s engagement with art history graduate students. Working closely with the museum’s talented staff will enhance their professional and intellectual preparation as the next generation of museum leaders. It is the goal of the Blanton and the Department of Art History to elevate the museum’s curatorial internships to a level of national prominence and reinforce UT’s reputation as a premier center for the study of art history.”

The Mellon Fellowships will be one academic year in length and awarded through a competitive process to current and incoming Ph.D. students in the university’s art history program. Three positions will be offered per year, one in each of the Blanton’s core collection areas: Prints and Drawings, and European Paintings; Modern and Contemporary Art; and Latin American Art. Mellon fellows will develop skills ranging from advanced object research and connoisseurship to identifying curricular connections and creating interpretive resources. All fellows will develop a project that grows out of their work at the Blanton, which could include a gallery installation, electronic publication, catalog essay, interpretive brochure, or other resources for university and community audiences.

“The University of Texas at Austin possesses a rare combination of institutional and intellectual resources to provide professional museum training for students who will define both academic and arts institutions in the coming years,” said Jack Risley, chair of the Department of Art and Art History. “The Mellon Fellowships present a unique opportunity for both the Blanton and the Art History doctoral program to create something greater than the sum of their parts.”

To provide further training for Mellon fellows, the Blanton will create a multidisciplinary professional development seminar focusing on a variety of topics relevant to both curatorial practice and museum operations. Speakers will include Blanton senior staffers, UT Austin faculty members from a range of disciplines and outside guests who are leaders in the field and visionary thinkers. Fellows will also receive travel stipends to attend at least one conference or symposium, or to accompany Blanton curators on research and planning trips.

Aaron Meyers Receives International Sculpture Center Award

Mon. October 28, 2013

Smile, 2012 cast concrete, handmade hardware 144 x 168 x 18 in.
Aaron Meyers - Smile

MFA student Aaron Meyers appears in the October issue of Sculpture magazine among a group of artists selected as recipients of the annual Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture awards.

Meyers describes his work in the article:

“Equal parts finished sculpture and recorded action, my work aims to understand the universe materially. Physically, the objects explore transition, force, and balance. Poetically, they create metaphoric equilibrium and transcend pure matter. I find beauty in ingenuity, surprise, and precision, and I use physical means to search for deep connections. Paradoxically, I try to create timeless forms tied to contingency, revealing the process of their fabrication and decay.”

The International Sculpture Center is a member supported, nonprofit organization founded in 1960 to champion the creation and understanding of sculpture and its unique, vital contribution to society. A distinguished panel made up of Drew Goerlitz, Sculpture and Associate Professor of Sculpture at SUNY Plattsburgh, Elizabeth Neilson, Director, Zabludowicz Collection, London, and Rein Triefeldt, selected 12 recipients from over 400 nominees.

The recipients' work will be on display at Grounds For Sculpture in New Jersey from October 5 – March 30, 2014. The exhibition will then travel to another location to be announced later this year.

Visit Meyers' website to view more of his work.

Raul De Lara Wins $10,000 Prize

Tue. October 22, 2013


Raul De Lara, currently a junior in the design program, won the $10,000 prize in the Austin edition of the Herradura Barrel Art Program. Ten Austin artists created artworks under only one rule: they have to use a tequila barrel.

The prize also gives Raul a chance at the finals held in Miami later this year, and a grand prize award of $100,000. The Herradura Barrel Art Program is held in eight cities across the country, where judges select one artist to advance to the finals.

De Lara’s work is influenced by the folklore surrounding the Mexican agave, creating a form of the god Quetzacoatl using only the tequila barrel. He was featured in The University of Texas at Austin’s alumni magazine, Alcalde, explaining his process and ambition:

“I would love to wake up and go to sleep only making art. Whether it’s doing studio work or commissions for hotels, restaurants or people. I just want to create for people. The cash helps, but more importantly, the connections I made there and being able to say I won helps in the eyes of people that require reassurance [about my ability], which is nice.”

Visit the competition’s website for more images of De Lara, the award presentation and artworks at the event.

Image courtesy of @HerraduraTeq.

Julia Guernsey named grand prize winner of 2013 Hamilton Book Awards

Mon. October 21, 2013

Julia Guernsey receiving 2013 Hamilton Book Award

The Department of Art and Art History congratulates Professor and Associate Chair Julia E. Guernsey on being named the grand prize winner of the 2013 University Co-Op Robert W. Hamilton Book Awards for her work “Sculpture and Social Dynamics in Preclassic Mesoamerica.”

The Hamilton Awards are among the highest honors of literary achievement given to published authors at The University of Texas at Austin. This year’s winners were announced Thursday, Oct. 17, at the Four Seasons Hotel.

In “Sculpture and Social Dynamics in Preclassic Mesoamerica,” Guernsey focuses on the significance of an enigmatic but abundant type of Preclassic monumental stone sculpture known as the “potbelly,” and she links its development to the social and political transformations that accompanied the formation of the first state-level societies in Mesoamerica. This book is a unique study that bridges the domains of art history, archaeology and anthropology in an exploration of the social role of sculpture during the Preclassic period in ancient Mesoamerica.

"I am thrilled by this honor, and delighted to share this research recognition with two other colleagues from the College of Fine Arts," Guersey said. "It was a great year for COFA, and a wonderful testament to the quality and diversity of research that takes place within our college."

Julia Guernsey received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1997, and has taught ancient Mesoamerican art and culture history in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin since 2001. Her research and publications continue to focus on the Middle and Late Preclassic periods in ancient Mesoamerica, in particular on sculptural expressions of rulership during this time. She also continues to participate on the La Blanca Archaeological Project, which is exploring this large site that dominated the Pacific coastal and piedmont region of Guatemala during the Middle Preclassic period.