Department of Art and Art History News

Gloria Lee retires, leaves lasting legacy in Design

Tue. September 1, 2015

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woman with shoulder length black hair and black sweater poses for photo
 

Gloria Lee joined The University of Texas at Austin in 1992 as an assistant professor and became an associate professor in 1997. Lee retired from the university in August having guided over 20 years of students with her wisdom.

"Gloria was one of the architects of our graduate program’s distinctive curriculum, and she served longer than anyone else as graduate adviser,” remarked Carma Gorman, assistant chair for Design. “She has carefully curated each incoming class and has always been an incredibly dedicated steward of the program and advocate for the students enrolled in it.”

Lee had a knack for figuring out whether a prospective student was a good candidate for graduate school, or if she or he just needed to change jobs instead. Gorman observed, “Gloria had a gift for selecting students who were truly motivated to do graduate level work, and as a result, the students who entered the program went on to do amazing things.”

Lee’s commitment to Design extended to the undergraduate curriculum as well.

“In recent years, Gloria taught an undergraduate signature course on sustainability for non-majors, as a means of speaking to a wider audience than only the students enrolled in our B.F.A. program,” said Gorman. “Also, in fall 2014, Gloria humored me by agreeing to teach the first course in the sophomore sequence; I knew she would do a great job of introducing students to the field, and I was really impressed with the work that students did in that course.”

“Gloria was a rock: I am just incredibly grateful to have had her as a colleague during my first two years at UT Austin,” stated Gorman. “I really relied on her experience and insight, and I am going to miss her more than I can say."

Lee received a S.B. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.F.A. in graphic design from the Yale University School of Art. In 1991 she founded the design studio, Buds Design Kitchen, which works in software prototyping and media design. Lee was a founding board member for the Austin chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design, and serves as a board member emeritus.

Lee’s legacy shines through in the words of the students and colleagues who agreed to share memories of the guidance that Lee provided them.

 

“I was in the very first Design Division class at UT Austin, in 1992. My professors were Randy Swearer, Ed Triggs, Diane Gromala, Dan Olsen and the luminous Gloria Lee. When I think of 'Glee,' as we called her, I always think of her laughing. She was a wonderful teacher, always upbeat. She was an excellent foil for the intensity of some of the other faculty. Her willingness to share her knowledge, her excitement, and her enthusiasm were what kept many of us motivated. Though I have moved away from design professionally, I still use many of the tools I learned from my time in the Design program. And I still remember being part of that close group. Glee, I wish you much joy in your retirement!” —Jennifer Danvers, B.F.A. in Design,1996

“When I first met Gloria she scared me. A lot. It was May before our first semester. She told me 'You need to focus!' I spent the summer running around trying to figure out how to focus. It did not work.

"I showed up in August scattered, wondering how I'd ever land on any sort of center in my work or my interests. I couldn't imagine what a thesis could possibly look like. Then, in our second year, we finally had a Gloria-led class. We experienced her specific grade of intellectual bricolage. She took our ideas and questions and poked here, dabbed there, had us put them away for a while, then bring them back, dust them off, and see them with new eyes. This process was much gentler than I'd expected. And it worked.

"Gloria helped us see what we couldn't see on our own, or even together as a group. She uses writing, analysis and conversation like a series of tiny mirrors, all catching little scraps and pieces and bits of light and gently constructing the whole. She changed the way I think. And now she only scares me sometimes.” —Brent Dixon, M.F.A. in Design, 2015

“All of my memories revolve around a woman who was passionate about what we were doing, and nurturing of that impulse. For a project, we had to design an anthology from 4 selected texts concerning technology. This was a typesetting, cover design and book design project. I struggled with the cover image and title. I brought in a photo that I had taken within the limited confines of my dorm room. It was a photo of the power button on a remote. The image was a bit grainy and of poor quality, but it spoke to me. I was so nervous and intimidated by everything. Gloria looked at it and said it was good, great, even (if my memory serves me right!). She encouraged me to keep thinking along those critical lines and to understand the power of an evocative image versus a didactic one. This was such an important moment in my design education.” Quyen Ma Hasenmyer, B.F.A. in Design, 2001

"Gloria was the no-nonsense voice of reason in every critique, from the very first to the very last. She let us navigate on our own but was quick to ensure we never strayed too far off in the wrong direction. A solid, justified, clear direction for the course of our projects — This was her goal for every student in the program." —Alexis Kraus, M.F.A. in Design, 2014

“When I entered the design program in 2008, I remember being intimidated by Gloria. She laid down a hard critique on our first set of projects. This woman was stern, serious, and very intelligent — it was the greatest wake-up call a young student could receive upon entering the program. It didn’t take long for me to realize that all these qualities existed for our benefit. She simply knew of our potential before any one of us could fathom it. For three years, Gloria’s office door was always open and she sat inside, waiting to dish out whatever advice was necessary and do so with a keenly critical mind. When it came time to transfer education into the working world, she was my guide and provided the positive insight I needed to go after my first great job. Years after graduating, she continued to lend me her thoughts and care when I reached out. There is no question she believed in every student who walked through those doors at UT Austin.” —Corey Leamon, B.F.A. in Design, 2011

“Gloria was my advisor, teacher and friend. Her guidance helped me embrace my identity and find my role in a struggle much larger than myself. Gloria’s support gave me courage to finally use my voice. For these things, and many more, I am forever grateful.”  —Robin McDowell, M.F.A. in Design, 2015

“When I applied to grad school at UT Austin in 2013, I had interviewed with Gloria via Skype. I remember talking about bell hooks, feminism, and how they relate to design. I'm pretty sure I said something embarrassing, but I'm positive that I flopped on the couch afterward saying, 'I really hope she liked me... I want to work with her.' I had the great pleasure of doing just that for the next two years, and I'll never forget that she always went to bat for me, wholeheartedly encouraged my engagement in other disciplines, and continually assured me I would find what 'making' meant to me in my own time. Thank you, Gloria.” —Becky Nasadowski, M.F.A. in Design, 2015

“Graduate school can be an overwhelming flow of information and ideas. It was Gloria's teaching methods that helped me organize, prioritize, and explore the concepts that were most relevant to me, and it was her guidance that led me to an efficient path toward my final thesis. I'm confident her influence will contribute to my success beyond the classroom. Thank you.” —Jose Perez, M.F.A. in Design, 2015

"Early in my my time at UT Austin, Gloria gave me advise that on the face of it is fairly simple but its compelling directness has stayed with me to this day. She told me that the primary requirement of being a good teacher is that you must continually be an optimist. It reframed my understanding of both teaching and being a designer. Be an optimist means working for — and believing in — tomorrow. It is the fundamental nature of what we do as teachers working with students or designers grappling with problems: believe in tomorrow.

"Gloria, as I am sure any the alumni would say — or any of her colleagues — that she worked tirelessly for the students and the program. Modeling this clear unwavering dedication for students and peers alike." —David Shields, former UT Austin professor of Design, 2004–2012

"During my time in the Design program, we had a project where a fellow student was documenting his perception of strong women. Naturally, he chose Gloria as a subject. I can't remember the adjective he chose to display with her photo, so I will add my own: FERVENT. Intensely passionate about learning and knowledge. Intensely passionate about her students. Intensely passionate about her family and friends...and cats...and thrifting...and cooking. Fervent about life.

"I am lucky to have been one of Gloria's students. I am doubly blessed to count her as a friend. Gloria Lee is not only an innovative educator, she is also an extraordinary human being. Through the years, Gloria has always been ready to lend support and counsel. She dedicated herself to her students and freely gave them the tools to learn and grow. I admire her greatly. — Gloria, enjoy your retirement and time with your boys. Continued blessings to you always and much love." —Nicole Truelock, B.F.A. in Design, 1996

“I know it's cliché to say ‘end of an era,’ but Gloria's retirement must constitute one nonetheless! Gloria is so fearlessly smart, and, as a graduate student, I could always count on her feedback and guidance to lead me to some unforeseen conclusion or epiphany. Gloria, thank you, and best wishes to you on your next adventures!” —Rachel Simone Weil, M.F.A. in Design, 2014
 

New faculty appointments in Design and Studio Art

Mon. August 31, 2015

headshots of two women pasted side by side
Left: Nicole Awai. Right: Jiwon Park. Courtesy of the faculty.

The Department of Art and Art History is pleased to announce the appointments of Nicole Awai and Jiwon Park.

"We are thrilled to welcome Nicole and Jiwon to the department. Together, they bring incredible depth of experience and extend the vision of our faculty," said Jack Risley, Meredith and Cornelia Long Chair of the Department of Art and Art History.

Nicole Awai joins the department as an Assistant Professor in Painting and Drawing. Her work has been included in the inaugural Greater New York: New Art in New York Now at MoMA PS1 in 2000; the Biennale of Ceramics in Contemporary Art in 2003; the 2008 Busan Biennale in Korea; Infinite Island: Contemporary Caribbean Art at the Brooklyn Museum in 2007; and Open House: Working in Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Museum in 2004. Awai was a featured artist in the 2005 Initial Public Offerings series at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and she received a Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant in 2011 and an Art Matters Grant in 2013. She received a B.A. in 1991 and an M.F.A. in Multimedia Art in 1996 from the University of South Florida.

Jiwon Park joins the department as an Assistant Professor in Design. Park has worked as a visual designer at Samsung Electronics and as a graphic designer at Brand Environment Ltd. She co-founded 1/2 Project and DAREZ Inc. and founded Design Can Do. Park's works have been selected for 17 international design awards, including: iF, Red Dot, IDEA, Type Directors Club, Art Directors Club, Communication Arts, and the Adobe Design Achievement Award, among others. She was named a Next Generation Design Leader and awarded a 100,000 USD research grant by the Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy in both 2011 and 2012. Park received a B.F.A. from the Ewha Womans University in 2009 and an M.F.A. in Graphic Design in 2013 from the Rhode Island School of Design as a Fulbright scholar.

New York, Tuscany, Zurich: undergraduate students travel across the globe this summer

Mon. August 31, 2015

Chelsea Chang, undergraduate in Art Education

woman in yellow shirt posing for photo
Image courtesy of Chelsea Chang.

How did you find your summer internship? What kind of experience were you seeking?
I knew about Southern Methodist University's Summer Youth Program because I had taken one of their classes in middle school. I've been learning about theoretical classroom management and teaching strategies, so I sought experience in those areas.

What was the best or funniest experience you had?
Children just say the most precious things. One week, my coworker and I had the children introduce their partners to the class as an icebreaker. One of the questions was "what is your favorite color?". One boy couldn't decide and ended up saying "All colors are equal, just like people!"

How will this internship impact your future goals?
My future goal is to become a high school art teacher that specializes in the combination of art and technology. SMU offered many classes that involved this subject so I got experience on how to teach video game creation, stop motion animation, digital comic book creation, etc. I worked with about eight teachers, so I also got to see the effect of many teaching/classroom management strategies and build up my own way of doing things.

Anyssa Flores, undergraduate in Art Education

children sitting in chairs facing Guggenheim Museum
Image courtesy of Anyssa Flores.

What kind of work you did this summer at the Guggenheim Museum?
I was a Family Programs intern in the Education Department of the Guggenheim. During my internship I would facilitate activities at exhibition openings, events and museum hours. I also helped the educators lead summer camps and tours, did research on various artists and helped create activities based on the artwork on view. Additionally, the Guggenheim had a Museum Culture Seminar Program where I got to visit other arts institutions and learn about their history, exhibitions and programming.

Did you accomplish or complete any work you found particularly interesting or are especially proud of?
Besides doing research and creating activities I was proud of, I really enjoyed getting to educate people and doing activities right in front of the artwork in the museum. Because of the complex subject matter, I think that contemporary art can be one of the most interesting and difficult subjects to educate people on, especially younger audiences. Learning how to lead those discussions and understand how people experience artwork was really beneficial to both my practice as an educator and an artist.

While in NYC, did you take some time for fun or sightseeing?
I did so much sightseeing on my days off and ate all kinds of great food — it was like being a three-month-long tourist! The subway system is so convenient, and you could get anywhere in NYC in a short amount of time. I would spend the day seeing art at the museums or Chelsea galleries and then end up in Chinatown for dinner, or I would take a short trip to Coney Island for the beach or a baseball game. On days I had nature withdrawals, I could hang out in Central or Prospect Park. Even walking around the city was always a fun adventure in itself.

Read more via the College of Fine Arts


Erica Halpern, undergraduate in Design

women standing with arms spead in front of Google wall

Image courtesy of Erica Halpern.

You traveled to Zurich for your second summer internship with Google. What kinds of projects did you work on as part of the internship?
I worked on Inbox, Gmail's new email client, specifically on the smart grouping of emails team that is responsible for bundles like trips and promos. As an Associate Product Manager Intern, I worked with the engineering and user experience teams to design and build a new feature. My exact project has to remain a secret until it launches though! 

What was the best or funniest experience you had?
Some interns and I rented a car to visit the Swiss alps and there was a traffic light to regulate the amount of cars that entered the tunnel. This created a giant traffic jam and left all the cars at a standstill. Since everyone was stuck, we all got out of cars ate cheese and baguette in the middle of a highway with a bunch of strangers for about 30 minutes!

How did the internship impact your future goals?
I'm double majoring in Design and Computer Science and in the classroom these fields often don't directly intersect. This internship has been a great way to see how both my interests can come together to create something exciting! My experiences this summer have helped me to figure out what career I would like to pursue. Working on a large product with many people in different roles and teams has taught me many valuable skills that I will use in the future.

Kayla Jones, undergraduate in Studio Art

black and white photo of white blanket in landscaping
Image courtesy of Kayla Jones

This summer you completed a residency at Oxbow and Co-Lab Projects' SUMMERSCOOL program. What did you hope to gain from these experiences?
I hoped to achieve, overall, similar things from both of these opportunities — to find a way to stay engaged with my practice and in conversation about art through the summer break. At OxBow I most looked forward to participating in OxBow’s immersive artist community, through conversations with everyone there: peers, professors and visiting artists. From SUMMERSCOOL, I was extremely excited to experience what it takes to produce a professional show, from start to finish. I definitely feel that through both of these programs I’ve gained experience that you can’t learn in a classroom, and I feel a little more prepared to enter the real world after graduation.

What was the best or funniest experience you had?
This is so difficult to answer; it’s hard to convey how memorable every single minute at OxBow ends up being. I would say that my most exciting experience was the studio visits I got to have with professors and visiting artists at OxBow. It was extremely helpful and eye-opening to hear from artists whose work I’d studied before, and also inspiring to hear them talk about their own passions and beliefs and where they intersected with my work. Having those meetings made me even more excited to come back and experiment in the studio with what I’d learned.

How did Oxbow and SUMMERSCOOL impact your future goals?
Both of these programs exposed me to a wide range of professions that someone with an arts background can pursue while maintaining an art practice. I feel more confident and optimistic about finding a path for myself that I enjoy that also supports my art after I graduate (but ask me again in May).

Nick Purgett, undergraduate in Art History

man standing in front of building posing for photo

Image courtesy of Nick Purgett.

Why did you decide to attend Learning Tuscany?
Ever since I took art history in high school, I wanted to find some way to get out of the classroom and experience all that I had learned about firsthand. I especially enjoy Renaissance art so Italy always seemed like an obvious choice. So when I found out about Learning Tuscany it felt like a no-brainer. After all, who wouldn't want to spend six weeks in Tuscany learning about a fascinating subject?

What was the best or funniest experience you had?
The best part of the program was interacting with all the non-major people who had no conception of what art history was and seeing them take interest in the subject. It can be hard to see why art history is so cool when learning off of slides every day. However, when you're standing in the Roman Forum or Loggia dei Lanzi, you understand why these fantastic places are so important and rightfully deserving of study. It sounds quite cliché but it was inspiring to connect with people through art history

How did Learning Tuscany impact your future goals?
It really reaffirmed that I want to be doing art history for the rest of my life. Showing people why art is so fascinating, in some way or another, seems the most fulfilling future I could have.

Q+A with Amanda Barbee

Sun. August 30, 2015

family of four sitting on boulders with hook'em hand sign

Amanda Barbee complete her M.A. in Art Education this past May. Barbee hails from Sanford, North Carolina and received her B.F.A. in Art Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is headed to Richmond, Virginia to complete a Ph.D. in Art Education at Virginia Commonwealth University. While at UT Austin, she raised her two sons, Henson and Jasper, with her partner, Jon.

Before leaving Austin, she answered a few of our questions by email.

Why did you decide to study Art Education as an undergrad?

Amanda Barbee: Originally, I was a speech pathology major. I’d chosen that major because I wanted to help people, but I still remember the day I was sitting in class, looking at a slide of the anatomy of the inner ear, and internally screaming “I’ve got to get out of this major!”

To pick a new major, I thought of the people who had been the biggest influences in my life, and I realized how much I owed to my elementary art teacher Mike Riddle. His teaching style made me feel intelligent and creative every time I was in his class. I had the chance to make kids experience that same feeling of success and support, so I switched to Art Education.

How did you find your thesis topic?

AB: While working with the undergraduate Art Education students, I realized that in the past, I had truly fit the profile of "survival years" when I was a new teacher. I wondered if that rough time was because I’d not been actively engaging with the subject I taught—art—for those first years.

Around the time of this realization, I’d also been reading a lot and really appreciated Pearse1 and Rolling’s2 models of understanding/art-making. These three models (technical, situational and critical) perfectly indicated the three levels of awareness that I worked to balance when teaching and when making art. Tying that together with the belief that student teachers would be optimal arts-based researchers, I landed on my topic. Dr. Bain and Dr. Powell were kind enough to let me alter the calendar and assignments for the student teaching semester course in order to conduct my research.

Can you talk about how you quantified or evaluated the successes or challenges of your thesis research?

AB: One gigantic challenge was the choice to use a grounded theory methodology, which is much more common in social sciences than in the arts. Ultimately, it was the perfect fit for what I wanted to do, which was observe the levels and patterns of reflection that the student teachers were experiencing. I collected everything each student teacher wrote, created, or said relating to the course, and tied up open questions with an interview. I then tallied each and every reflection as they fell within the three Pearse/Rolling models. By chronologically charting this data, I was able to see when each student teacher experienced different types of reflection and understanding, in regards to six different categories. It was amazing to see their focus shift, and how they grew and changed.

How do you hope your research is utilized either at UT Austin in shaping the undergraduate AED curriculum, or at other institutions?

AB: My hope is that the concept of the student teacher as researcher will become a strong focus at UT Austin and elsewhere. Artists are researchers, exploring and expressing what they capture. Art Education student teachers have an established connection to reflective practices through their studio courses. I believe that guiding them to process their emerging career, through and with art, could be a very natural and fulfilling part of their preparation.

What was it like to raise your children and deal with your graduate work at the same time? Any advice to pass along to others?

AB: It was not easy, but it might become easier when more women agree that it is not only okay, but absolutely wonderful, to want more than what fits into the categories of wife/partner and mother. At times I have almost felt guilty about having ambition, but there is no other path where I’d have found the happiness and satisfaction I receive from working this hard on something I care about so much.

Having a supportive partner who constantly prioritized family needs with me made all the difference. Jon and I worked on the big victory separately a lot, but we always planned our “attacks” together.

You will also be in a new position in the National Art Education Association (NAEA), Preservice Division Director, how do you hope to shape this position?

AB: The NAEA Preservice Division is the newest Division to join the NAEA Board of Directors. This team is going to support existing student chapters nationwide, and reach out to other art and art education programs that do not yet have NAEA affiliation. We’re trying to reach out to every future classroom, community, or museum educator, as well as future teaching artists and those in related fields.

Since I only have a two-year role as Director, I think realistically we will only foster better connections and increase the diversity of our chapters during my time. The Division Director-Elect Jessica Burton and I share a long-term goal of creating our Division to be a space for future art educators to connect, encourage, share concepts, plans and career ideas, and grow professionally before they are actually in the field. Ideally, I’d love to see preservice art educators weighing in on the current educational climate, and advocating for art in students’ lives. It’s a really exciting time to be involved.


1Pearse, H. (1983). Brother, can you spare a paradigm: The theory beneath the practice. Studies in Art Education, 24(3), 158-163.

2Rolling, J. (2013). Arts-based research primer. New York: Peter Lang.

Q+A with Rachel Simone Weil

Sun. August 30, 2015

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woman wearing bright green and pink and white striped shirt poses for photo
Photo by Marjorie Becker/Chiptography

Rachel Simone Weil (M.F.A. in Design, 2014) is an experimental video game developer and design historian whose work explores the intersections of femininity and twentieth-century gaming. Weil runs FEMICOM, the feminine computer museum, creates NES games and glitch art under the alias Party Time! Hexcellent!, and helps organize Austin's monthly indie games event, Juegos Rancheros.

She answered the following questions by email.

FEMICOM Museum was started around the time you also began the M.F.A. program in Design at UT Austin. How did your goals for FEMICOM Museum change as you progressed through the program?

Rachel Simone Weil: I founded FEMICOM Museum right before my graduate studies began, and I'm certain that the two informed one another throughout my time as a student at UT Austin. Since the beginning, my goal with FEMICOM has been to document the history of femininity in video games and game culture. But as a student, I was pressed to ask myself why: Why does this matter to me? Why should it matter to others? My coursework in design as well as in outside disciplines such as rhetoric, Japanese history, and girls' media studies played a critical role in finding answers. I realized that FEMICOM wasn't really just about archiving video games about fashion and dating; it was also about broader concerns such as historical erasure, adult anxieties around girlhood, and the place of girls and women in computing history.

You describe yourself as a video game developer and design historian, but you also make art for the Nintendo Entertainment System. So you're also an artist. How do all these titles and hats work together in your practice?

RSW: They do all come together, it seems! The video games I create for the NES are mostly experimental art games or little interactive installations. I don't imagine ever selling them alongside the latest console or mobile games. I'm interested in engaging with the history of femininity in video games, and in the name of historical accuracy, I go to all kinds of trouble to develop games for hardware that's been obsolete for decades. So there's little commercial application for something like that. But it does allow me these opportunities to simultaneously play the role of Good Historian and Bad Historian. The Good Historian does all the archival and curation work for FEMICOM, while the Bad Historian dreams up all these new video games and passes them off as old artifacts. All together, it points toward this idea of very seriously questioning what we believe to be true about the history of video games and computing.

This summer, you received a residency at MASS Gallery. What are you aspirations for the time?

RSW: During my artist residency at MASS Gallery, I'll be playing more Bad Historian. I'm making artifacts and ephemera from feminine 1980s and 1990s video arcades that never existed. As someone whose primary mode of working is programming rather than building in the physical world, I'm excited to have the opportunity to do weird work that gets me way outside of my comfort zone.

What other upcoming projects are you excited about?

RSW: For the second time, I'm helping put together Fantastic Arcade, an experimental arcade that pops up at the Highball during the Alamo Drafthouse's Fantastic Fest. This year, Fantastic Arcade starts on September 28. And for the second time this semester, I'll be teaching Game History and Critical Theory here at UT Austin.


Upcoming events:

Artist Talk at MASS Gallery
Thursday, August 27, 7 p.m.

FEMICOM Museum will have a pop-up games exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London
Friday, August 28, 2015, 6:30 p.m.

Open Studios at MASS Gallery
Friday, September 4, 7–11 p.m.

Follow Weil on Twitter @FEMICOMuseum