Department of Art and Art History News

Q+A with Jesse Kinbarovsky (M.F.A. in Design, 2014)

Tue. November 24, 2015


Jesse Kinbarovsky completed an M.F.A. in Design in 2014 from The University of Texas at Austin. He answered questions by email.

man smiles and poses for for photo

When you completed the graduate Design program, you were working on GlucoCue. Where is that project now?

Jesse Kinbarovsky: I continue to work on my diabetes ‘internet-of-things’ project, and have gotten a decent chunk through development. The utility patent was filed this year but will take a few more months for approval. I’ve pivoted a bit to account for gaps in the market and competition, but it’s more or less the same sort of thing I presented in grad school. I wish I were further on this, but given my schedule I’m happy that I’ve at least gotten this far. In the fall, I partnered with UT School of Biomedical Engineering to help develop, which was a good experience. I recently found a business partner, and it’s looking good for product release sometime in 2016, if I can focus enough time on it.

What work have you been doing since graduating?

JK: After graduating in 2014 I worked as a contract designer, playing lead design roles on a few projects. I spent much of the time focused on a really cool touch wall at a large hospital complex in San Francisco, developing a series of physical and music therapy games and interactive experiences for the Children’s Hospital there. I was extremely gratified to learn that the therapists walk groups of kids to the wall every day for therapy. Following that I moved to Precocity, LLC as a Senior UI/UX Designer on some large-scale software products. After a few months I became Creative Director, leading design and development teams in the U.S., Ukraine, and India on a suite of immigration, investment and tax compliance applications for Deloitte, Apple, Facebook and Google—about one billion in contracts altogether.

It was a real learning experience and full of big problems to solve, but in October I was invited to be Creative Director of UX for North America with KUKA Systems, a robotics and automation firm headquartered in Augsburg, Germany. In this new role I am helping launch a new R&D branch and working with some fascinating emerging technologies to define how people experience and interact with robots and automation systems in a wide range of settings. Starting in 2016 I will be building teams in Austin and San Francisco to design mobile and cloud solutions for industrial robotics applications in general, and healthcare automation more specifically.

It's only been a short time, but what has been the most exciting thing about your work for KUKA Systems?

JK: It’s been thrilling and demanding working with some very sharp people who are building some amazing technologies. But even more than that, it’s energizing to work in a very entrepreneurial environment at this early stage. All of us have the sense of urgency and excitement that comes with the start of a new thing.

How would you describe your practice before you entered the M.F.A. program in Design and how has it changed since you completed the program?

JK: All of the work I listed above has been a direct outgrowth of my grad school experience and output. UT Austin has dramatically improved my career trajectory, and the last year and a half have been filled with rapid growth. Before grad school I was pretty hemmed in to my specific design practice, stuck at a certain level and quite honestly too timid to venture into new areas. But the amazing professors and availability of great courses helped me tailor my education to expand my skill set and build confidence in my abilities. I learned how to think in new ways and engage with a wide variety of subjects, and the result has been having a meaningful impact on people’s lives through my design work.

An excerpt from Eddie Chambers’ paper entitled “We Might Not Be Surprised: Visualizing Slavery and the Slave Ship in the Works of Charles Campbell and Mary Evans”

Tue. November 24, 2015

Associate Professor Eddie Chambers contributed a chapter to the book, Visualizing Slavery: Art Across the African Diaspora (Liverpool University Press, December 2015). An excerpt from Chambers’ chapter entitled “We Might Not Be Surprised: Visualizing Slavery and the Slave Ship in the Works of Charles Campbell and Mary Evans” follows:


white paper cut out on pink
Mary Evans, Ship Shape, 2011, cms paper, 30 x 37 inches.

One of the most fascinating aspects of contemporary artists’ attempts to visualize slavery is the extent to which such images relate as much to the present-day, as they might to the historical traumas and experiences they seek to reference. Though contemporary artists may lay claim to, or may utilize, 18th or 19th century imagery in their work, the resulting pieces often speak as much, if not more, to late 20th or early 21st narratives of history and identity, than to the historical subject matter the original images depict. There is perhaps a certain inevitability to this, substantially reflected in television or cinematic interventions into narratives of slavery and the slave trade.

The television production of Alex Haley’s Roots probably told us more, or as much about race in mid 1970s United States, as it did about the particular saga of Haley’s family tree. More recently, films such as the biopic Amazing Grace (directed by Michael Apted, and loosely based on the life of antislavery MP William Wilberforce) probably told us more, or as much, about the climate of benevolent liberalism and partiality that by and large characterises the British people’s attitudes to matters of slavery and abolition. The fascinating set of postage stamps issued by the Royal Mail in 2007 probably told us as much as, or more about the Blair government’s questionable Abolition 200 project, as the stamps did about the historical figures they sought to memorialize. Much more recently, Steve McQueen’s own biopic 12 Years a Slave (loosely based on the vivid recollections of Samuel Northup, a free Black man kidnapped into slavery, and his subsequent nightmarish existence) probably told us more, or as much, about the United States in the era of Obama, as it did about slavery in 19th century America. Time and time again, we see the ways in which images of slavery and the slave trade have this fascinating ability to shuttle between considerations of both the past and the present.

Eddie Chambers joined the Department of Art and Art History in 2010, teaching African Diaspora art history. His education includes a Fine Art (Honours) degree from Sunderland Polytechnic (1983) and in 1998 a Ph.D. in History of Art from Goldsmiths College, University of London. Chambers authored Black Artists in British Art: A History Since the 1950s, published in 2014 (I. B. Tauris), now in its second edition.

Teresa Hubbard interviews undergraduate Chandler Allen about recent New York Magazine commission

Tue. November 24, 2015

Chandler Allen is an undergraduate student in Studio Art. She recently completed a photo shoot with New York Magazine and answered questions via email.

two people sitting at picnic table look over at camera
Hannah and the Singer, 2015, premium luster inkjet print, 30 x 24 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Teresa Hubbard: First of all, congratulations on garnering a paid photography assignment to shoot for New York Magazine. The photography editors looked at photography work being done by undergraduates around the country at a number of different universities, and the editors were very impressed by a number of our photography students working here in the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin who submitted portfolios for their consideration.

Could you tell me about the the experience of working on assignment for such a prominent client?

Chandler Allen: Thank you. I am honored, as I know many candidates across the nation applied. Working for a major publication like New York Magazine was a rewarding whirlwind. From the day I got the job, I was in conference calls with the Photography Director every other morning before attending class and working closely with the Senior Photo Editor on a daily basis. Every night I would go out to fraternities, Co-Op’s, apartments and other parties around campus to photograph elaborate shoots of friends, lovers, strangers and even one self-portrait. It was essentially my job to be at the right place at the right time in the dark hours of the night and orchestrate a narrative depicting that party, sexual encounter or relationship.

TH: I know that the assignment entailed several weeks of very intensive on-location work. What kind of things did you learn about photography and yourself while working on this job?

CA: I learned a great deal regarding technique. I sharpened the intentionality of my subject’s gaze and body language to emote sexuality without having to illustrate sex. It was very important that the work spoke about college life and our sexual journeys in subtle ways like a look of pride, a placement of a hand, a furled brow and not only obvious ways, like nudity. I also learned that as a photographer I constantly want to relate to my subjects. I found myself inadvertently interacting and not just stuck behind the camera; this allowed my subjects to open up and be more vulnerable which produced better results.

two men in pool hug
Angel and Preston in the Water, 2015, premium luster inkjet print, 40 x 34 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

TH: Has working commercially, for a client, changed how you approach your own artwork, and if so, in what ways?

CA: I knew the work I did for New York Magazine would be published for millions to see. So in my mind, it required a heightened responsibility and ownership. Because the work was about sex and relationships in college, it was important to me to submit a self-portrait and put myself in the shoes of my subjects.

Now in my artwork I take this same approach more often—exposing myself physically and emotionally as much as I ask others to. This has only strengthened my artistic integrity. I think to often college art students reject commercial work because they think in some way it is beneath them. What they don’t realize is that most of the world's most successful artists have at one time or are currently being funded by commercial work and that it is smart to utilize both sides of the market.

The New York Magazine assignment has already begun to open new doors for my career and I thank professors like you, the College of Fine Arts Career Services, and the university, for bringing this opportunity to light and consistently supporting my endeavors.

Q+A with Emily Edwards (B.A. in Art History, 2015)

Tue. November 24, 2015

woman in blue blouse poses for picture
Image courtesy of Emily Edwards

Emily Edwards (B.A. in Art History, 2015) is a graduate student at Georgetown University. She answered questions by email.

Margaret Conyngham: After you finished your B.A. in Art History at UT Austin, you were accepted into the Art and Museum Studies graduate program at Georgetown University. What is your research focused on?

Emily Edwards: I am primarily focusing on contemporary art. I am also taking a few curatorial studies courses that focus on exhibition planning.

MC: Congratulations on your internship at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. What kinds of projects have you been working on there?

EE: Thank you! I am currently developing a video podcast for their website. I also work with the curatorial staff on exhibition research for future catalogs.

MC: How did your undergraduate work prepare you for graduate school and the work you are doing at the Hirshhorn?

EE: I learned how to do in-depth research through my undergraduate classes, especially while writing my undergraduate thesis. I really fine-tuned my writing skills in my four years at UT. I also learned how valuable it is to form relationships with professors. They all want to get to know you and help you succeed!

MC: Do you have any advice for students thinking about applying to graduate Art History programs?

EE: My biggest piece of advice is to thoroughly research the graduate programs. I remember thinking one program was perfect but then looked at their course offerings to find they did not offer any contemporary art classes. Since that is the area I want to specialize in, I quickly crossed it off my list! I also advise looking into the programs well in advance of application deadlines. I spent the summer before my senior year drafting a list of the schools I wanted to apply to so I could spend the fall of my senior year actually working on the applications. Those deadlines sneak up faster than you think! Finally, take advantage of the career services available in the department. I had no idea how to write a statement of purpose initially. Visiting career services helped me focus my ideas.

Maggie Conyngham is a recent graduate of The University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Art History and French. She currently lives in Austin, Texas.

Q+A with Eugenie Scrase, Royal College of Art exchange student in Sculpture

Tue. November 24, 2015

screen shot of video of dog
Image still from Powdercoat Footprint/Kevin and Dylan, 2014. Image courtesy of the artist.

What has been the most surprising experience of your time in Austin so far?

Eugenie Scrase: I was surprised to see so many people riding bikes around Austin. As an ardent cyclist back in London I was so happy to see such a strong love for it here in Austin too. I had never seen bike racks on the front of buses either (not even in Copenhagen!); I’ll be pushing that idea onto the mayor of London when I get back to the UK!

In your work, which media do you find yourself working with most? Why do these fit your practices best?

ES: I mostly work in sculpture and film. The metal workshop in the Department of Art and Art History is brilliant—as are the technicians there. I’ve just come back from a week long road trip across Texas over to White Sands National Preserve in New Mexico. Along the way I chose particular locations to shoot some film footage that I’m now editing.

Writing plays a huge role in my practice. Along with drawing, it enables me to percolate thoughts and ideas.

screen shot of video of person's foot with yellow painted footprints
Image still from Powdercoat Footprint/Kevin and Dylan, 2014. Image courtesy of the artist.

Would you describe the themes that you work with? What drives your interest in them?

ES: I often use the term ‘Haptic Visuality’ or ‘Hapicity’ to describe my practice. It is sensuous imagery that evokes memory of the senses (i.e. water, nature); depicting acute states of sensory activity (smelling, sniffing, tasting, etc.). The haptic
image is in a sense, ‘less complete’, requiring the viewer to contemplate the image as a material presence rather than an easily identifiable representational cog in a narrative wheel.

This has stemmed from my previous research into the Phenomenology of Landscape—our perceptions of landscape and our movement within it.

As part of the UT < > RCA exchange program, you will present an exhibition. When and where will your exhibition be on view?

ES: It’s going to be in one of the Long Horn Stadium Squash Courts. I’m immensely excited to have to opportunity to be showing work in a space so heavily associated with the human body. There are some stunning marks on the court’s walls made by the contact of ricocheting squash balls. The date hasn’t been set yet. I’m anticipating it opening in the first week of December.