Tue. November 24, 2015
Raul De Lara graduated with a B.F.A in Studio Art with high honors in 2015. He now lives and works in Chicago and answered these questions via email.
Kayla Jones: What sort of opportunities provided by UT Austin did you take advantage of while you were an undergraduate student?
Raul De Lara: While at UT Austin, I took advantage of programs such as the New York Seminar, Ox-Bow, and scholarships within the College of Fine Arts and other areas in the university. I made sure to learn how to properly operate every single tool available at the wood shop and Digital Fabrication Lab. I also took advantage of the faculty and staff’s knowledge and wisdom. I would often ask them for advice and questions about the professional world and life in general.
KJ: Which opportunity you took advantage of had the biggest impact? Why?
RDL: The opportunity that had the biggest impact was the Ox-Bow program. A year before graduating, I was awarded a scholarship to go to Ox-Bow during the summer for a two-week class. The experience allowed me to dive deeply into a sea of opportunities within the Ox-Bow and Chicago community. I remember not being able to believe that I was in a place where every single person was just as excited and passionate about becoming something greater. This opportunity had the biggest impact on me because it created a chain reaction of favorable circumstances that eventually led up to me receiving a fellowship to attend Ox-Bow and moving to Chicago—creating a solid foundation for the first years of my artistic career.
KJ: Why did you decide to move to Chicago?
RDL: During my Ox-Bow fellowship I connected with a lot of Chicago artists, which opened up an abundance of opportunities for me in the city. A Chicago friend and I decided to look for a place together. We wanted an all-in-one living space where we could have living space, studio space and a gallery. Eventually we found the perfect building that would fulfill our visions in the neighborhood of Bridgeport and together we founded Fat City Arts. Having this strong network of people and finding my ideal living situation led me to have no other choice but to move to Chicago to pursue my professional goals and ambitions.
KJ: How did you get the opportunity to work for Nick Cave?
RDL: After locking down my new space in Chicago, I had in mind the ideal job of working with an artist that I really look up to: Nick Cave. I landed my job working with Nick Cave by networking Ox-Bow and Chicago circles, which eventually led to an interview with him. During the interview I got to see the studio crew in action and the famous Soundsuits; I was hooked immediately.
KJ: How has it been trying to maintain a studio practice since graduating, moving and getting a job with Nick Cave’s studio?
RDL: My studio practice has been very fruitful since moving to Chicago. Learning how to carefully manage my time has been a key factor in all of the following. I have a well-equipped wood shop and a lot of space where I can create work. Having a gallery on site also allows me to host events that showcase my work and the work of other living artists. I live with three incredibly talented artists who just graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. We help each other and share knowledge on a regular basis.
Collectively we operate Fat City Arts, which is not only a place where we host art and music shows, but also a hot-spot for creatives to engage with one another and further develop the vernacular of tomorrow. Graduating finally allowed me to be able to start big scale solo and group projects. I am currently working on collaborative sculptures with artists from Detroit, Chicago and Ireland. I am also in the process of painting a 44 ft. mural in downtown Chicago. During the first part of my weekdays, I work with Nick Cave at his studio. I love being there because he is a role model for me; that man works harder than anyone I know. I also recently got accepted by Chicago Artists Coalition to be a yearlong resident for HATCH Projects, where I will receive professional development through dynamic exhibitions, one-on-one studio visits, public programs, and community building to develop a sustainable creative practice.
KJ: What advice would you give current undergraduates?
- Your professors and staff are your most valuable assets. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and favors—they want to help.
- Don’t underestimate the power of simply being liked.
- Do not take your place in time for granted. There are thousands of people fighting to be where you are and where you want to be.
Kayla Jones lives in Austin, Texas where she is pursuing a B.F.A. in Studio Art and B.A. in English at The University of Texas at Austin.
Tue. November 24, 2015
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.
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.
An excerpt from Eddie Chambers’ paper entitled “We Might Not Be Surprised: Visualizing Slavery and the Slave Ship in the Works of Charles Campbell and Mary Evans”
Tue. November 24, 2015
Associate Professor Eddie Chambers contributed a chapter to the book, Visualizing Slavery: Art Across the African Diaspora (Liverpool University Press, December 2015). An excerpt from Chambers’ chapter entitled “We Might Not Be Surprised: Visualizing Slavery and the Slave Ship in the Works of Charles Campbell and Mary Evans” follows:
One of the most fascinating aspects of contemporary artists’ attempts to visualize slavery is the extent to which such images relate as much to the present-day, as they might to the historical traumas and experiences they seek to reference. Though contemporary artists may lay claim to, or may utilize, 18th or 19th century imagery in their work, the resulting pieces often speak as much, if not more, to late 20th or early 21st narratives of history and identity, than to the historical subject matter the original images depict. There is perhaps a certain inevitability to this, substantially reflected in television or cinematic interventions into narratives of slavery and the slave trade.
The television production of Alex Haley’s Roots probably told us more, or as much about race in mid 1970s United States, as it did about the particular saga of Haley’s family tree. More recently, films such as the biopic Amazing Grace (directed by Michael Apted, and loosely based on the life of antislavery MP William Wilberforce) probably told us more, or as much, about the climate of benevolent liberalism and partiality that by and large characterises the British people’s attitudes to matters of slavery and abolition. The fascinating set of postage stamps issued by the Royal Mail in 2007 probably told us as much as, or more about the Blair government’s questionable Abolition 200 project, as the stamps did about the historical figures they sought to memorialize. Much more recently, Steve McQueen’s own biopic 12 Years a Slave (loosely based on the vivid recollections of Samuel Northup, a free Black man kidnapped into slavery, and his subsequent nightmarish existence) probably told us more, or as much, about the United States in the era of Obama, as it did about slavery in 19th century America. Time and time again, we see the ways in which images of slavery and the slave trade have this fascinating ability to shuttle between considerations of both the past and the present.
Eddie Chambers joined the Department of Art and Art History in 2010, teaching African Diaspora art history. His education includes a Fine Art (Honours) degree from Sunderland Polytechnic (1983) and in 1998 a Ph.D. in History of Art from Goldsmiths College, University of London. Chambers authored Black Artists in British Art: A History Since the 1950s, published in 2014 (I. B. Tauris), now in its second edition.
Tue. November 24, 2015
Emily Edwards (B.A. in Art History, 2015) is a graduate student at Georgetown University. She answered questions by email.
Margaret Conyngham: After you finished your B.A. in Art History at UT Austin, you were accepted into the Art and Museum Studies graduate program at Georgetown University. What is your research focused on?
Emily Edwards: I am primarily focusing on contemporary art. I am also taking a few curatorial studies courses that focus on exhibition planning.
MC: Congratulations on your internship at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. What kinds of projects have you been working on there?
EE: Thank you! I am currently developing a video podcast for their website. I also work with the curatorial staff on exhibition research for future catalogs.
MC: How did your undergraduate work prepare you for graduate school and the work you are doing at the Hirshhorn?
EE: I learned how to do in-depth research through my undergraduate classes, especially while writing my undergraduate thesis. I really fine-tuned my writing skills in my four years at UT. I also learned how valuable it is to form relationships with professors. They all want to get to know you and help you succeed!
MC: Do you have any advice for students thinking about applying to graduate Art History programs?
EE: My biggest piece of advice is to thoroughly research the graduate programs. I remember thinking one program was perfect but then looked at their course offerings to find they did not offer any contemporary art classes. Since that is the area I want to specialize in, I quickly crossed it off my list! I also advise looking into the programs well in advance of application deadlines. I spent the summer before my senior year drafting a list of the schools I wanted to apply to so I could spend the fall of my senior year actually working on the applications. Those deadlines sneak up faster than you think! Finally, take advantage of the career services available in the department. I had no idea how to write a statement of purpose initially. Visiting career services helped me focus my ideas.
Maggie Conyngham is a recent graduate of The University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Art History and French. She currently lives in Austin, Texas.
Tue. November 24, 2015
When Teodoro Estrada (B.F.A. in Art Education, 1981) returned to his hometown—Brownsville, Texas—he didn’t set out to become play a major part in leading arts education in the community. And yet, this year marks five years of service as the Supervisor for Visual Arts for the Brownsville Independent School District.
“It is so exciting to see what is happening at the district level,” remarks Estrada. “I started to see the gaps and started working with teachers to start filling those gaps.”
After graduating from UT Austin, Estrada taught in middle schools and high schools in Houston for 20 years. He maintained his own studio practice as well as creating new programs for his students. Estrada collaborated with the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston to bring communities into schools. His projects included murals and exhibitions of student work that welcomed community members into the middle school and brought student work outside of the classroom.
“Art doesn’t have to be just on paper or canvas,” describes Estrada. “It can be out in the community for people to enjoy it.”
In 2006, Estrada moved back to Brownsville and completed his M.F.A. in studio art while teaching art at the high school level. In 2010, he applied to and was offered a position as Supervisor for Visual Arts for the Brownsville Independent School District.
“We started a portfolio review five years ago. The first one was at the Museum of Fine Arts in Brownsville and had four universities participate,” says Estrada. “About 50 students showed up and they really got into it. They saw how the portfolio review could help them get into art programs they wanted to study.”
By providing students an opportunity to show their work to college faculty and arts professions, Estrada provides a platform for students to get feedback and learn about pathways to different careers.
“There’s a huge gap that needs to be addressed,” says Estrada. “This includes student’s preparation for college and that many of our community members don’t see art as a career. Every opportunity we get, we go out into the public to teach the community that art is a viable career.”
For the last two years, the Department of Art and Art History has participated in Estrada’s portfolio review and collaborated in presentations and discussions to increase college preparation.
“I’m always looking for new opportunities for our faculty and our students. I am looking for opportunities to build our art programs. Here in the valley, we have to create opportunity—we need to yell out to the world.”