Department of Art and Art History Undergraduate Students

Teresa Hubbard interviews undergraduate Chandler Allen about recent New York Magazine commission

Tue. November 24, 2015

Chandler Allen is an undergraduate student in Studio Art. She recently completed a photo shoot with New York Magazine and answered questions via email.

two people sitting at picnic table look over at camera
Hannah and the Singer, 2015, premium luster inkjet print, 30 x 24 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Teresa Hubbard: First of all, congratulations on garnering a paid photography assignment to shoot for New York Magazine. The photography editors looked at photography work being done by undergraduates around the country at a number of different universities, and the editors were very impressed by a number of our photography students working here in the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin who submitted portfolios for their consideration.

Could you tell me about the the experience of working on assignment for such a prominent client?

Chandler Allen: Thank you. I am honored, as I know many candidates across the nation applied. Working for a major publication like New York Magazine was a rewarding whirlwind. From the day I got the job, I was in conference calls with the Photography Director every other morning before attending class and working closely with the Senior Photo Editor on a daily basis. Every night I would go out to fraternities, Co-Op’s, apartments and other parties around campus to photograph elaborate shoots of friends, lovers, strangers and even one self-portrait. It was essentially my job to be at the right place at the right time in the dark hours of the night and orchestrate a narrative depicting that party, sexual encounter or relationship.

TH: I know that the assignment entailed several weeks of very intensive on-location work. What kind of things did you learn about photography and yourself while working on this job?

CA: I learned a great deal regarding technique. I sharpened the intentionality of my subject’s gaze and body language to emote sexuality without having to illustrate sex. It was very important that the work spoke about college life and our sexual journeys in subtle ways like a look of pride, a placement of a hand, a furled brow and not only obvious ways, like nudity. I also learned that as a photographer I constantly want to relate to my subjects. I found myself inadvertently interacting and not just stuck behind the camera; this allowed my subjects to open up and be more vulnerable which produced better results.

two men in pool hug
Angel and Preston in the Water, 2015, premium luster inkjet print, 40 x 34 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

TH: Has working commercially, for a client, changed how you approach your own artwork, and if so, in what ways?

CA: I knew the work I did for New York Magazine would be published for millions to see. So in my mind, it required a heightened responsibility and ownership. Because the work was about sex and relationships in college, it was important to me to submit a self-portrait and put myself in the shoes of my subjects.

Now in my artwork I take this same approach more often—exposing myself physically and emotionally as much as I ask others to. This has only strengthened my artistic integrity. I think to often college art students reject commercial work because they think in some way it is beneath them. What they don’t realize is that most of the world's most successful artists have at one time or are currently being funded by commercial work and that it is smart to utilize both sides of the market.

The New York Magazine assignment has already begun to open new doors for my career and I thank professors like you, the College of Fine Arts Career Services, and the university, for bringing this opportunity to light and consistently supporting my endeavors.

New York, Tuscany, Zurich: undergraduate students travel across the globe this summer

Mon. August 31, 2015

Chelsea Chang, undergraduate in Art Education

woman in yellow shirt posing for photo
Image courtesy of Chelsea Chang.

How did you find your summer internship? What kind of experience were you seeking?
I knew about Southern Methodist University's Summer Youth Program because I had taken one of their classes in middle school. I've been learning about theoretical classroom management and teaching strategies, so I sought experience in those areas.

What was the best or funniest experience you had?
Children just say the most precious things. One week, my coworker and I had the children introduce their partners to the class as an icebreaker. One of the questions was "what is your favorite color?". One boy couldn't decide and ended up saying "All colors are equal, just like people!"

How will this internship impact your future goals?
My future goal is to become a high school art teacher that specializes in the combination of art and technology. SMU offered many classes that involved this subject so I got experience on how to teach video game creation, stop motion animation, digital comic book creation, etc. I worked with about eight teachers, so I also got to see the effect of many teaching/classroom management strategies and build up my own way of doing things.

Anyssa Flores, undergraduate in Art Education

children sitting in chairs facing Guggenheim Museum
Image courtesy of Anyssa Flores.

What kind of work you did this summer at the Guggenheim Museum?
I was a Family Programs intern in the Education Department of the Guggenheim. During my internship I would facilitate activities at exhibition openings, events and museum hours. I also helped the educators lead summer camps and tours, did research on various artists and helped create activities based on the artwork on view. Additionally, the Guggenheim had a Museum Culture Seminar Program where I got to visit other arts institutions and learn about their history, exhibitions and programming.

Did you accomplish or complete any work you found particularly interesting or are especially proud of?
Besides doing research and creating activities I was proud of, I really enjoyed getting to educate people and doing activities right in front of the artwork in the museum. Because of the complex subject matter, I think that contemporary art can be one of the most interesting and difficult subjects to educate people on, especially younger audiences. Learning how to lead those discussions and understand how people experience artwork was really beneficial to both my practice as an educator and an artist.

While in NYC, did you take some time for fun or sightseeing?
I did so much sightseeing on my days off and ate all kinds of great food — it was like being a three-month-long tourist! The subway system is so convenient, and you could get anywhere in NYC in a short amount of time. I would spend the day seeing art at the museums or Chelsea galleries and then end up in Chinatown for dinner, or I would take a short trip to Coney Island for the beach or a baseball game. On days I had nature withdrawals, I could hang out in Central or Prospect Park. Even walking around the city was always a fun adventure in itself.

Read more via the College of Fine Arts

Erica Halpern, undergraduate in Design

women standing with arms spead in front of Google wall

Image courtesy of Erica Halpern.

You traveled to Zurich for your second summer internship with Google. What kinds of projects did you work on as part of the internship?
I worked on Inbox, Gmail's new email client, specifically on the smart grouping of emails team that is responsible for bundles like trips and promos. As an Associate Product Manager Intern, I worked with the engineering and user experience teams to design and build a new feature. My exact project has to remain a secret until it launches though! 

What was the best or funniest experience you had?
Some interns and I rented a car to visit the Swiss alps and there was a traffic light to regulate the amount of cars that entered the tunnel. This created a giant traffic jam and left all the cars at a standstill. Since everyone was stuck, we all got out of cars ate cheese and baguette in the middle of a highway with a bunch of strangers for about 30 minutes!

How did the internship impact your future goals?
I'm double majoring in Design and Computer Science and in the classroom these fields often don't directly intersect. This internship has been a great way to see how both my interests can come together to create something exciting! My experiences this summer have helped me to figure out what career I would like to pursue. Working on a large product with many people in different roles and teams has taught me many valuable skills that I will use in the future.

Kayla Jones, undergraduate in Studio Art

black and white photo of white blanket in landscaping
Image courtesy of Kayla Jones

This summer you completed a residency at Oxbow and Co-Lab Projects' SUMMERSCOOL program. What did you hope to gain from these experiences?
I hoped to achieve, overall, similar things from both of these opportunities — to find a way to stay engaged with my practice and in conversation about art through the summer break. At OxBow I most looked forward to participating in OxBow’s immersive artist community, through conversations with everyone there: peers, professors and visiting artists. From SUMMERSCOOL, I was extremely excited to experience what it takes to produce a professional show, from start to finish. I definitely feel that through both of these programs I’ve gained experience that you can’t learn in a classroom, and I feel a little more prepared to enter the real world after graduation.

What was the best or funniest experience you had?
This is so difficult to answer; it’s hard to convey how memorable every single minute at OxBow ends up being. I would say that my most exciting experience was the studio visits I got to have with professors and visiting artists at OxBow. It was extremely helpful and eye-opening to hear from artists whose work I’d studied before, and also inspiring to hear them talk about their own passions and beliefs and where they intersected with my work. Having those meetings made me even more excited to come back and experiment in the studio with what I’d learned.

How did Oxbow and SUMMERSCOOL impact your future goals?
Both of these programs exposed me to a wide range of professions that someone with an arts background can pursue while maintaining an art practice. I feel more confident and optimistic about finding a path for myself that I enjoy that also supports my art after I graduate (but ask me again in May).

Nick Purgett, undergraduate in Art History

man standing in front of building posing for photo

Image courtesy of Nick Purgett.

Why did you decide to attend Learning Tuscany?
Ever since I took art history in high school, I wanted to find some way to get out of the classroom and experience all that I had learned about firsthand. I especially enjoy Renaissance art so Italy always seemed like an obvious choice. So when I found out about Learning Tuscany it felt like a no-brainer. After all, who wouldn't want to spend six weeks in Tuscany learning about a fascinating subject?

What was the best or funniest experience you had?
The best part of the program was interacting with all the non-major people who had no conception of what art history was and seeing them take interest in the subject. It can be hard to see why art history is so cool when learning off of slides every day. However, when you're standing in the Roman Forum or Loggia dei Lanzi, you understand why these fantastic places are so important and rightfully deserving of study. It sounds quite cliché but it was inspiring to connect with people through art history

How did Learning Tuscany impact your future goals?
It really reaffirmed that I want to be doing art history for the rest of my life. Showing people why art is so fascinating, in some way or another, seems the most fulfilling future I could have.

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