Department of Art and Art History News

Eddie Chambers presents "British Artists of the African Diaspora"

Mon. October 5, 2015

 Vintage periodicals arranged on a black table.
Photo by Mark Doroba.

The exhibition "British Artists of the African Diaspora," on view at the Fine Arts Library through the Fall 2015 semester, is a sampling of materials selected by professor Eddie Chambers that relates to the history of Black culture in Britain.

Fifty years later: Photography area continues to benefit from legacy of founder Russell Lee

Wed. September 30, 2015

man poses for portrait
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

“50 years ago Russ Lee and I opened the doors to a tiny photo lab at the back to the jewelry lab,” described photographer Jim Bones, who served as Lee’s first teaching assistant.

Bones started out as an aerospace engineering major at The University of Texas at Austin. He would eventually change his major to Art to study and work with the documentary photographer, Russell Lee.

“We had to build and paint the sinks and enlarger stations and construct the small changing rooms for the 4x5 film and 2 1/4 and 35mm tank loading,” said Bones, “We all started with a 4x5 camera and worked down to the peashooters.”

Russell Lee started the photography program within what was then the Department of Art at UT Austin. His archive of over 100,000 documentary photographs lives at the university’s Briscoe Center for American History.

Between 1936 and 1943, Lee worked for the Farm Security Administration where he captured some of his most memorable shots. Lee is remembered by his images and generous personality—and also for his legacy as a teacher.

“He was outgoing, avuncular, would linger, visit with students, tell stories, make (terrible) puns and then laugh at them,” remembered Margaret Harman (B.F.A. in Art, 1970; M.F.A. in Studio Art, 1980). “He genuinely enjoyed the company of students. Lee was probably the friendliest most approachable teacher in the art department.”

Harman was born in Virginia, but grew up in Austin and developed an early love for visual art. She studied photography at UT Austin and began working in conservation while working in Washington D.C. Presently, Harman works in the Audio Visual Archives at the LBJ Museum.

“Lee told his classes about LBJ's photographer, Okamoto, and showed us examples of his work back in 1969—the very first year I took photography,” said Harman. “Now I'm helping to preserve Okamoto's work and make it more widely accessible.”

two women looking at film on light table

In 2011, a group of Lee’s students and friends started a scholarship fund named in honor of Russell Lee. The Creekmore and Adele Fath Foundation has contributed $500,000 toward the Russell Lee Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Photography in honor of their long standing friendship with Lee. Since its inception, the scholarship fund has supported over 15 undergraduate and graduate students.

"My graduate studies here at The University of Texas at Austin have been greatly improved by the generous support of this scholarship,” said Bryan Martello, M.F.A. candidate in Studio Art. “With the support from this foundation, I have been provided the freedom to research and experiment with my photographic work that I would normally not have the opportunity to otherwise do."

For more information:

Russell Lee’s archive can be accessed at the Briscoe Center for American History

Russell Lee Photographs was published by Texas Press in 2007.

An exhibition entitled, Rusell Lee Photographs, was presented by the Museum of the Big Bend February 10 – March 29, 2015. Jim Bones and Lonn Taylor participated in a talk viewable on YouTube.

Jessamine Batario receives $20,000 dissertation fellowship from Dedalus Foundation

Wed. September 30, 2015

woman in blue shirt and slacks poses for picture in front of tree

Jessamine Batario, a doctoral candidate in Art History, has been awarded a $20,000 Dedalus Foundation Dissertation Fellowship for 2015–2016. Batario’s dissertation, “The Art and Intellectual History of Byzantine Modernism,” seeks to establish the significance of a “Byzantine Modern” art history alongside other narratives of modernism and to contribute to the discipline’s recent evaluation of institutional periodization.

Batario received a B.A. in art history from the University of California, Berkeley and a M.A. in Art History from the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin. Her interests lie in 19th century European painting, history of art history, phenomenology and hermeneutics.

Batario’s work focuses on Modern art and critical theory. Her research interests include European and American modernism, Byzantine art, mid-20th century art criticism and history of art history. For two years, she worked as the graduate research assistant for Dr. Richard Shiff in the Center for the Study of Modernism. She has also served the Department of Art and Art History as the Ph.D. co-chair of the Graduate Student Art History Association and the co-chair of the Research Roundtable. Batario also holds a Named/Endowed Continuing Fellowship from the Graduate School at UT Austin.

Founded in 1981 by the artist Robert Motherwell (1915–1991), the Dedalus Foundation fosters public understanding of modern art and modernism through its programs in arts education, research and publications, archives and conservation, and exhibitions, as well as in the guardianship and study of Robert Motherwell’s art.

The Dedalus Foundation Dissertation Fellowship is awarded annually to a Ph.D. candidate at a university in the United States who is working on a dissertation related to painting, sculpture and allied arts from 1940-1970, with a preference shown to Abstract Expressionism.

Design Course with Kate Catterall responds to campus carry lesgislation

Wed. September 30, 2015

people sitting in auditorium

Campus Carry: A Design Response

Using anticipatory design methods, students in the Design in the Social Environment course, Fall 2015, will explore design-centric approaches to changes that may be precipitated at The University of Texas at Austin after S.B. 11 is implemented in August 2016.

Students will focus on social and physical transformations of the environment as they research the legal and constitutional questions central to SB 11. They will explore the history, design and marketing of weapons; weapons storage; body armor (textiles/other); and other pertinent artifacts.

They will research every aspect of safety, security and defense in relation to the body, mind, in both public space and learning environments—ultimately designing a range of speculative design proposals.

Presentations and research materials will be archived in a course blog.

Guest speakers include:

Caitlin Sulley: a Research Project Director at the Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault at the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin. She will speak about the Campus Carry legislation from the Institute's perspective.

Jose Perez: a veteran and recent graduate of the graduate program in Design, M.F.A. 2015. He will present his recent speculative design work the function of which oscillates between therapeutic tool and means of communicating information about difficult mental health issues.

Officer Peiper: an officer in the university police department, will speak about campus security past, present and future.

Raul Comacho: Safety Measures

Representatives from Texas Law Shield

Cody Wilson: Defense Distributed

Makers of the Liberator Pistol

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.