Department of Art and Art History News

The Oplontis Project publishes first of four free e-books

Thu. January 8, 2015

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ACLS Humanities E-Book released Oplontis Villa A (“of Poppaea”) at Torre Annunziata, Italy, Volume 1: The Ancient Setting and Modern Rediscovery, the first of four volumes detailing research at Villa A Site at Oplontis. The work was edited by Professor John Clarke and Nayla K. Muntasser (PhD in Art History, 2003). The Oplontis Project is directed by Professor Clark and Michael L. Thomas (PhD in Art History, 2001).

Associate Professor Carma Gorman serves as project faculty for summer design teaching institute

Thu. January 8, 2015

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Associate Professor Carma Gorman will visit Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in July. She will serve as the project faculty and visiting scholar for a summer teaching institute entitled "Teaching the History of Modern Design: The Canon and Beyond." To attend, applications are due by March 2, 2015.

Art History doctoral candidates present papers at the 2015 Maya Meetings

Thu. December 18, 2014


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Caitlin Earley is an art historian specializing in ancient Maya art. She is currently a Junior Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington, DC, and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin. Earley’s dissertation research focuses on ancient Maya sculptures from the Comitán Valley of Chiapas, Mexico, and what they reveal about power and identity in the ancient world. Earley maintains a wide array of research interests, publishing and presenting on the iconography of kingship, the Maya ballgame, and Preclassic artistic motifs. A native of Alexandria, Virginia, Caitlin graduated from Williams College with a BA in English in 2003, and earned her MA in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008.

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Meghan Rubenstein is a doctoral candidate in Art History concentrating on Precolumbian Mesoamerica. Her academic research is motivated by her interest in art’s ability to facilitate, or resist, social and cultural change. Within this broad framework, Meghan explores themes of identity and modes of visual communication. Her current work focuses on architecture in the Puuc region of Yucatán between 750 and 950 CE. Her dissertation, Animate Architecture at Kabah: Terminal Classic Art and Politics in the Puuc Region, is a study of the Codz Pop, a building that provides insight into the vibrant relationship between religion, politics, and architecture during a period of local and regional transition. This research has benefited from ongoing collaboration with the archaeological project at Kabah as well as archival research at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in Mexico City and Mérida, and the Alexander Architectural Archive at The University of Texas at Austin.

Rubenstein’s fieldwork has been supported by a Fulbright-García Robles Fellowship, two E.D. Farmer International Fellowships, and various grants from the Graduate School and the College of Fine Arts at UT Austin. Prior to coming to Texas, she received a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MA from Indiana University. She has worked as an archaeological illustrator for projects in Mexico and Belize, and considers the process of drawing—both in and out of the field—an essential component of her research. At the 2015 Maya Meetings, she will present a paper entitled Scaffold Sacrifice at Kabah.

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Stephanie Strauss is a second year PhD student in Art History. Her research explores the interconnectedness of text and image in early Mesoamerican art, specifically the ways in which motif (de)construction and isolation catalyzed and informed the invention and use of hieroglyphic writing in the New World. Strauss’ work uses the interdisciplinary approaches of art history, archaeology, and linguistic anthropology to situate early hieroglyphic writing systems into their greater social context. Her dissertation addresses the enigmatic “Epi-Olmec” visual culture of the Late Preclassic Isthmus of Tehuantepec (300 BC to AD 250; principally in the Mexican states of Veracruz and Chiapas). She is particularly interested in how this understudied art and hieroglyphic program relates to other coeval text and image practices, such as the Preclassic Maya or Zapotec visual systems. Strauss has recently received grants from the Donald D. Harrington Foundation, Department of Art and Art History, College of Fine Arts, and the Charles Edwards Endowment to conduct summer research at sites across the Isthmus (summer 2014) and to present papers at the annual meetings of the College Art Association and the Society for American Archaeology (spring 2015).

Strauss previously worked as a contract exhibition scriptwriter and ceramics researcher at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. She earned her BA in Anthropology and Latin American Studies from Yale University (2011), where her honors thesis was granted the Michael D. Coe award for best departmental senior project. She completed her MA in Anthropology from George Washington University in 2013. While at GWU, she was a finalist for the Philip J. Amsterdam Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching. Strauss joined The University of Texas at Austin as a Harrington Doctoral Fellow in the fall of 2013. During the 2015 Maya Meetings, she will present a paper entitled Taking K’awiil and Giving Nen: Rethinking Infant Sacrifice Among the Classic Maya.

The Maya Meetings will take place January 13–17, 2015. For details about speakers and registration, visit The Mesoamerica Center.

Meet new graduates who walked the stage early December

Thu. December 18, 2014

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Devin Tayne, BA in Art History

Tayne knew she wanted to become a teacher before she came to college and decided to begin by studying Art History, her favorite subject from school. She also studied History and joined the UTeach Liberal Arts teaching preparation program. During college, she developed a passion for educating the next generation about issues in art history and world history. She also grew a respect for other cultures and a desire to travel and work abroad. Tayne is now headed off to teach history in an international school in Bangkok, Thailand. Certified in teaching AP Art History, she hopes to one day teach an Art History course but isn't hesitant to sneak plenty of art history into her World History class.


Tayne said, "I'm going into a career in which I am in the position to shape many of tomorrow's minds and the Art History program has prepared me to address many difficult issues, such as gender and race inequalities, and to better the world through the power of education."

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Alejandra Amaya, BFA in Studio Art

Amaya is a nomadic Texan with a passion for the ephemeral experience of identity. She creates installations utilizing sculpture as well as performance based video art. The layers of theses mediums and others speak on the different vantage points of perception and experience. When asked about her time at the university, Amaya said, "My favorite part of being a part of the Department of Art and Art History was the privilege of working with engaged peers and challenging mentors.”


Amaya's work can be viewed on her Vimeo and website. Currently, an installation of her work is on display at By George on North Lamar as part of a final project in Margo Sawyer's installation course.

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Jonathan Gruchawka, BFA in Studio Art

Gruchawka was born in 1987 in the state of New Jersey, and has since lived in Georgia, Connecticut, Tennessee, and now, Texas. He switched the focus of his studies from biology to visual art while attending community college in Dallas before transferring to UT Austin. Upon graduation, he moved back to Dallas and is preparing to show his work in February at the Dallas Public Library, while continuing his work in sculpture and painting as well as preparing for application to MFA programs across the country.


Gruchawka described that the Studio Art program "was a complete physical and intellectual challenge that left me not only a much better artist, but also a more intelligent, confident, and wise person that somehow has more questions now than ever before."

Ann Reynolds speaks about Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty

Thu. December 18, 2014

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Associate Professor Ann Reynolds speaks about Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty on RadioWest.