Art professor included among 10 leading scholars by Black Issues In Higher Education magazine

Jan. 8, 2003

AUSTIN, Texas—Michael Ray Charles, associate professor of art in the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin, is one of 10 scholars profiled in the January edition of Black Issues In Higher Education magazine.

Michael Ray Charles (Forever Free) #9 1997

Michael Ray Charles
(Forever Free) #9
Acrylic latex, stain and
copper penny on paper, 60" x 45"

In this edition, Black Issues In Higher Education recognizes scholars who are doing innovative research in their field of study, reaching out to shape the next generation of scholars, or committing themselves to working with communities and students of color.

Throughout his career as an artist and educator, Charles, who has a background in advertising design, illustration and painting, has reflected on the evolution of racial stereotypes. Charles is an acclaimed artist with solo exhibitions around the world, special segments on PBS, Canadian and German television, and high-profile collaborations with distinguished film directors.

"Michael Ray Charles, an artist of stunning expressivity, brings special credit to our university," said Robert Freeman, dean of the College of Fine Arts. "His hard work towards an America of greater opportunity for all people is an example of great determination, discipline and drive to excel."

Images drawn from a history of American advertising, product packaging, billboards and television commercials, such as Sambo, Aunt Jemima and Uncle Tom, are incorporated into the artist's work as he presents a contemporary impression of our world through the eyes and insights of a young black man.

In an interview with Black Issues In Higher Education magazine, Charles said his work has always dealt with race, and talked about the need to increase the presence of African American visual artists in museums and galleries.

"I've always been searching for a better representation or understanding of what 'blackness' is, or was, or may be," said Charles. "We are not yet getting master of fine arts degrees, and having galleries, and becoming patrons, and doing the things that are on the A-list of creative cultural production. That's a major challenge to overcome."

For more information contact: Bruno Longarini, College of Fine Arts, 512-475-7021.