Department of Art and Art History News

Michael Smith featured in MOMUS

Mon. October 5, 2015

 Cartoonish drawing of people
Image courtesy of the artist.

Professor Michael Smith was featured in MOMUS in response to his exhibition, Excuse me!?!…I’m looking for the “Fountain of Youth."

Stephennie Mulder and David Stuart in conversation on cultural heritage destruction

Mon. October 5, 2015

white hexagonal and cube outline on green background

Dr. Stephennie Mulder and Dr. David Stuart were interviewed in the 15 Minute History podcast "Roundtable: Antiquites in Danger" and dicussed the destruction of cultural artifacts in the Middle East and Mesoamerica.

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.

Olivia Martin Moore installation on view as part of TEMPO project.

Mon. October 5, 2015


Steel architectual frame with one corner leaning on limestone rock in field
Memorial, 2015, steel.

Olivia Martin Moore (M.F.A. in Studio Art, 2011) presents work as part of the City of Austin's public works program TEMPO. Her piece, Memorial, gives note to the eight convicts who died while quarrying this site when it supplied limestone rock to build the Texas State Capitol. Memorial is on view at Convict Hill Quarry Park until January 18, 2015.


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.