Art and Art History Collection provides distinctive research resource
Thu. April 30, 2015
Imagine holding a ceramic vase thousands of years old. The only thing between this 1000-year-old artifact and your skin are the white museum gloves your professor gave you at the beginning of class.
“For a well-rounded education it is important that students have the opportunity to engage in multiple modes of inquiry,” remarked Dr. Astrid Runggaldier, lecturer in the Department of Art and Art History. “Especially in this digital age, working with objects like the artifacts gives students the chance to acquire skills and knowledge through analytical and creative processes that put them directly in touch — literally — with the material they are studying.”
In her course Art and Archaeology of Ancient Peru, Runggaldier utilized the Art and Art History Collection and allowed the students to handle the objects. Students learned to formally analyze artifacts and then wrote final papers focused on the art historical and cultural context of a chosen piece.
“The collection's highlights include valuable textiles from the American Southwest and pottery from the Pre-Columbian Andean cultures, but the sheer range of materials, as well as the breadth of cultures and time periods represented in our holdings offer extensive opportunities for coursework and independent student work,” described Runggaldier.
The collection has had a long history at The University of Texas at Austin. The Texas Memorial Museum (TMM) acquired contributions as early at the 1930s. Over 60 years, TMM received contributions of ceramic, metal, stone, textile, and wood objects from Central and South America as well as smaller collections from Central Africa and the American Southwest.
“This is one of the most significant collections on campus, and the department was critical in saving the collection when it was deaccessioned from the Texas Memorial Museum in 2005,” said Department of Art and Art History Chair, Jack Risley. “Now our challenge is to find a long term home for these objects, where they will receive proper archival stewardship and be easily accessible for study and research.”
Recently, objects from the collection were included in Between Mountains and Sea: Arts of the Ancient Andes at the Blanton Museum of Art. The exhibition was guest curated by Dr. Kimberly L. Jones (PhD in Art History, 2010). In 2013, Dr. Jones was appointed the Assistant Curator of the Arts of the Americas at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA). In an upcoming DMA exhibition, Inca: Conquests of the Andes, seven works from the collection will be on view. Inca: Conquest of the Andes opens May 15, 2015. Pieces from the collection are also on view in the UT Austin Fine Arts Library and the the College of Fine Arts Dean's Office. Both are located in the E. William Doty Fine Arts Building.
“Beyond, their use to the campus community, these are important objects for the wider public to know about,” said Runggaldier. “Their recent inclusion in museum shows in Austin and Dallas is a positive development that I hope to see more of.”
Students showcase products, art, and arguments during Research Week
Thu. April 30, 2015
From community-based social design to art exhibitions, symposia, and ethics in art education, department undergraduate students demonstrate the importance of research in Art Education, Art History, Design, and Studio Art.
Students presented projects and artwork during Research Week alongside colleagues across campus. Events included an exhibition of visual art for the duration of the week, presentations at the Longhorn Research Bazaar, and the Undergraduate Art History Research Symposium.
Third year Design students Alexandra Mann and Cassidy Reynolds presented sparkbuddy, a website that enables children to set health goals and connect with other children with similar goals.
“We probably spent around 75% of the semester researching and 25% of the semester formally designing,” described Alexandra Mann. “Good design is well informed within the context of each project. Its not possible to go through the full design process without gaining an in depth understanding of the ‘who, what, where, when, and how’ of your project.”
Natalie Gomez, Visual Art Studies undergraduate, presented a group research project entitled, Speak up! Should artistic expression in art education receive the same degree of legal protection as other types of freedom of expression?
When asked about the impetus for the research topic, Natalie Gomez explained, “It was an issue that we felt would be extremely beneficial to us and our peers as artists and future art educators.”
On Friday, April 24, seven Art History seniors presented their honors theses papers at the third annual Undergraduate Art History Research Symposium. The event celebrated the end of an intense semester spent writing a thesis paper alongside the students’ normal coursework. Art History senior Tracey Borders presented a paper entitled, Urbi et Orbi: Politics and Patronage in the Papacy of Boniface VIII.
“This process has helped me grow as an art historian and as a person,” said Tracey Borders. “It has been one of the most challenging experiences but entirely worth it. I hope to get involved in government after graduation, and the tools I have acquired through the research and writing of my thesis will be extremely useful for the career path I hope to pursue in Texas politics.”
The university’s Office of Undergraduate Research organizes Research Week every year with the School of Undergraduate Studies and the Senate of College Councils. Each year, Department of Art and Art History students participate in this university event and proudly present work resulting from hours spent in the studio, library, and in the community.
“There is no ‘education’ without research,” Natalie Gomez remarked. “Research is essentially a thorough inquiry and that skill is required of all students entering any profession.”
Alumni Spotlight: Melissa Warak, PhD in Art History, 2014
Wed. April 22, 2015
Linda Dalrymple Henderson: Readers will be interested to hear about your interdisciplinary research focus. Can you talk about that and what led you to your interest in music and art, even before arriving at UT Austin?
Melissa Warak: I grew up in a musical household. My mother had trained as a classical pianist and we listened to classical music on the radio all the time when I was a child. In college, I worked in college radio and loved learning about experimental music, which tied nicely to my studies of art history and English. I found all of these great connections among artists, composers, and musicians that interested me enough to want to write about them.
LDH : How did the graduate program at UT Austin help you develop your interests in art history and other fields?
MW: My graduate coursework in modern and contemporary art really helped me hone my interests in the 1960s and in sound art. I took courses in Music, Germanic Studies, History, and American Studies to develop my research skills in cultural histories and production. I found that my Art History professors encouraged my outside interests in music and metaphysical philosophy and even arranged introductions to faculty members across campus. I also learned that many other departments at UT Austin value the interdisciplinary research skills developed in the art history graduate program.
LDH: What role did your time as a Vivian Smith Fellow at the Menil Museum play in your graduate work?
MW: This fellowship allowed me to work firsthand with objects and archival material related to my dissertation. I was able to dive into my work completely. I proposed an exhibition (Takis: The Fourth Dimension, on view until July 2015) that was approved even after I finished the fellowship. I also had the opportunity to organize a two-day symposium on art and music, for which I invited prominent scholars in the field. My fellowship at the Menil Collection also allowed me to develop professional connections and relationships with artists, art historians, and other specialists across Texas, which has served me well in my present position at the University of Texas at El Paso.
LDH: How did the program at UT Austin prepare you for your current position at UT El Paso and your work as a liaison between the university and the Judd Foundation?
MW: I teach art from 1850 to the present at UTEP, so having access to a broad range of graduate classes in modernism, theory, and contemporary art has served me well. UT Austin has had several graduates write on Donald Judd, including Adrian Kohn and David Raskin, and of course, Dr. Richard Shiff is a wonderful source for any students investigating Judd's legacy in Marfa. One of the books featured front and center in Judd's library in Marfa is Dr. Linda Henderson's book on the fourth dimension and non-Euclidean geometry, so I have always felt that there are advantageous connections among scholars at UT Austin and Marfa.
Graduate students in Art History at UT Austin develop strong speaking agendas through conferences, symposia, and invited talks, so creating community becomes second nature to many of us. I also earned quite a bit of valuable teaching experience as a graduate student. As soon as I arrived at UTEP, I began to nurture the relationships between my department and the Chinati Foundation and Judd Foundation in Marfa. Given my relatively close proximity to Marfa (a three hour drive), I can take students every semester. My comfort in working with undergraduates allows me to get to know students so I may support their internship applications to the arts organizations in Marfa.
LDH: What advice would you give to students completing their graduate work at UT Austin?
MW: It feels so good to finish that thesis or dissertation and move forward. I loved teaching at UT Austin — it is an incredibly valuable experience — but it is also time-consuming to create courses and lectures. I was able to finish only through the support of outside fellowships that allowed me to write exclusively, so I would encourage graduate students to seek external funding. In applying for jobs, cast a wide net. In addition to seeking career advice from faculty members, graduate students should also take advantage of the wide network of Art History alumni.
Department presentations at the Society for American Archaeology annual meeting
Thu. April 16, 2015
Dr. Julia Guernsey, Dr. David Stuart, and PhD candidates in Art History Stephanie Strauss and Elliot Lopez-Finn will present papers at the 2015 Society for American Achaeology annual conference in Chicago.
California State University Symposium in honor of Linda Schele
Thu. April 9, 2015
Professors Julia Guernsey and David Stuart present papers at symposium in honor of the late Linda Schele. The symposium was organized by the Art History Society of California State University in Los Angeles April 10–11, 2015.
Department alumni presenters include:
- Carl D. Callaway, MA in Art History, 2006
- Rex Koontz, PhD in Art History, 1994
- Megan E. O'Neil, MA in Art History, 1999
- Matthew H. Robb, MA in Art History, 1999
- Carolyn E. Tate, MA/PhD in Art History, 1980/1986
- Khristaan Villela, MA/PhD in Art History, 1993/2001
- Marline D. Werness-Rude, MA/PhD in Art History, 2003/2010
Additional UT Austin alumni include:
- Manuel Aguilar-Moreno, PhD Latin American Studies, 1999
- F. Kent Reilly III, MA/PhD in Latin American Studies, 1987/1994
- David M. Schaefer, MA in Latin American Studies, 2011
- Elaine Day Schele, PhD in Latin American Studies, 2012