Department of Art and Art History News

Undergraduate Research Week

Mon. April 28, 2014

Students pose in front of their research poster
From left to right: Ryan Robbins, Sarah Henkel, Abbi Strickland

As part of The University of Texas at Austin's annual Research Week, all department divisions displayed, presented and discussed their work and research. For the entire week, undergraduate students presented visual work from foundations, drawing and painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and transmedia throughout the art building.

At the Longhorn Research Bazaar, students from art education presented posters on topics of their research including Ethics in Visual Arts Education: Censorship, What Role Does Ethics Play in Visual Arts Education Research? and Where do Controversial Artworks Fit in the Art Education Classroom? Destiny Barr (B.F.A. Art Education, 2015) worked with colleagues Shaun Lane and Mattison Lyttle to research the topic Ethics in Visual Arts Education: Censorship. Barr described, "We looked into censorship in the art classroom and whether it is beneficial or whether it smothers the artist [sic] creativity." She continued to say, "The greatest thing was hearing different stories on censorship and how to properly collect facts and present them in a fashion that is understandable to someone who has not looked into the area we researched."

Undergraduate design students presented their visual zine, 512stew, at the Longhorn Research Bazaar. As part of design course Images in Communication, 18 students constructed their personal narrative view centered around cultures in Austin. Through the process, students learned the different roles of publication: publisher, author, editor, designer, marketer. Museum: Store was presented by 24 students from 3D Foundations who created products in response to works at the Blanton Museum of Art. Nine students who participated in our Learning Tuscany study abroad program, also displayed projects and visual works created during or influenced by their time abroad.

The second annual Undergraduate Art History Research Symposium took place during the university's research week and capstones the art history honors thesis experience. Seven art history students presented papers in their areas of research. Jen Nordhauser, who double majors in art history and biomedical engineering, said, "It was interesting going through the process of finding new images that were more conducive to a presentation." Nordhauser presented her paper on The Eternal Garden of Saint Louis: The Introduction of Naturalistic Floral Relief Sculpture at the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris and plans to attend medical school and pursue a masters of public heath.

Julia Wang, double major in African-American Studies, noted that working with a faculty adviser made her "able to clarify the presentation of my research. I was made aware of the importance of choosing words that clearly define an idea I am trying to convey." Wang presented her paper Seeing Color Beyond its Representational Purpose: Art of the Early 20th Century and plans to attend law school to pursue criminal defense. With regard to the preparation the symposium involved, Professor Louis Waldman stated, "For six weeks, our most outstanding students learn what it is to revise and rethink their research, as their faculty advisors challenge them to take it to the next level. They learn ... to use constructive feedback and fold it into their work."

Celebrating 75 years

Mon. April 28, 2014

Alumni and faculty surround cake in visual arts gallery
Alumni and faculty celebrate 75 years

The Department of Art and Art History celebrated its 75th anniversary on April 5, 2014 with an open house and alumni reception. Our faculty, staff and students offered over 25 activities during the open house. More than 200 guests enjoyed activities including letterpress demonstrations with the Rob Roy Kelly collection, tours of The Color Inside, a skyspace by James Turrell, an interactive timeline of the department’s past 75 years, art history graduate student debates, and construction of an alfombra.

Following the open house, the department hosted an alumni reception held in the Visual Arts Center. Over 200 alumni were in attendance. Every decade since the department began awarding degrees in the 1940’s was represented and two alumni were present from our very first graduating class!

It was with great excitement that the department opened its doors to the public and reconnected with its alumni.

2014 Eleanor Greenhill Symposium

Fri. April 25, 2014

Student presents to audience in lecture hall
Eleanor Greenhill Symposium

The Department of Art and Art History and the UT-Austin Graduate Art History Association held the 2014 Eleanor Greenhill Symposium on March 29. To an audience of the university community, prospective graduate students and scholars, current graduates present their research at this annual symposium. Roja Najafi, doctoral candidate and Vivian L. Smith Foundation Fellow at The Menil Collection, states that, "dialogue is the core of the Greenhill symposium. And to me, the Greenhill Symposium not only signifies the quality of research at our department, but also the progressive mentality of scholarly process."

Students submit papers for consideration to a committee of art history graduate students and faculty. Selected papers are reviewed by the committee for feedback and the students rehearse their presentations before the event. Through this process, students gain invaluable experience in their presentation skills and additional responses to their topics.

Jeannie McKetta discussed Cy Twombly and L'Esperienza Moderna. Elliot Lopez-Finn presented on Defining the Red Background Style: The Production of Object and Identity in an Ancient Maya Court. Ann Merkle spoke about A Tall Building, Artistically Considered: Dubai's Burj Khalifa and Louis Sullivan's Vision. Cody Castillo discussed A Monument of Egyptian Triumph: The Iseum Campensis and the Reign of Agustus. Roja Najafi presented on Responses to Cubism: Material Allusions of the Three Jeans of Tachisme.

The Eleanor Greenhill Symposium occurs annually and allows graduate students the opportunity to present their research to the larger university and scholarly community. The symposium was named in honor of Dr. Eleanor Greenhill, a distinguished Medievalist who served as faculty at the Department of Art and Art History until 1985.

Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler exhibition at Ballroom Marfa

Fri. April 25, 2014

Two people in gallery space watching three panel film
Installation image courtesy of Ballroom Marfa

Teresa Hubbard, professor of photography, and Alexander Birchler present Sound Speed Marker at Ballroom Marfa, on view through October 26. The exhibition includes five years of work and includes video and photography that "explore film's relationship to place and the traces that movie making leaves behind."

Dr. Stephennie Mulder publishes new book

Thu. April 24, 2014

Stack of Mulder's new book
The Shrines of the 'Alids in Medieval Syria

Dr. Stephennie Mulder, professor of Islamic art and architecture, has published the first illustrated, architectural history of the 'Alid shrines, increasingly endangered by the conflict in Syria

The 'Alids (descendants of the Prophet Muhammad) are among the most revered figures in Islam, beloved by virtually all Muslims, regardless of sectarian affiliation. This study argues that despite the common identification of shrines as 'Shi'i' spaces, they have in fact always been unique places of pragmatic intersectarian exchange and shared piety, even - and perhaps especially - during periods of sectarian conflict.

Using a rich variety of previously unexplored sources, including textual, archeological, architectural, and epigraphic evidence, Stephennie Mulder shows how these shrines created a unifying Muslim 'holy land' in medieval Syria, and proposes a fresh conceptual approach to thinking about landscape in Islamic art. In doing so, she argues against a common paradigm of medieval sectarian conflict, complicates the notion of Sunni Revival, and provides new evidence for the negotiated complexity of sectarian interactions in the period.