Department of Art and Art History News

Kristin Lucas presents interactive installation at Gallery Protocol

Sun. August 30, 2015

digitally rendered grass and stairs with blue background
Image courtesy of Kristin Lucas.

Assistant Professor Kristin Lucas presents a solo exhibition at Gallery Protocol. The exhibition will be on view September 11 – October 16, 2015.

digitally rendered stairs in watery landscape
Image courtesy of Kristin Lucas

Q+A with Amanda Barbee

Sun. August 30, 2015

family of four sitting on boulders with hook'em hand sign

Amanda Barbee complete her M.A. in Art Education this past May. Barbee hails from Sanford, North Carolina and received her B.F.A. in Art Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is headed to Richmond, Virginia to complete a Ph.D. in Art Education at Virginia Commonwealth University. While at UT Austin, she raised her two sons, Henson and Jasper, with her partner, Jon.

Before leaving Austin, she answered a few of our questions by email.

Why did you decide to study Art Education as an undergrad?

Amanda Barbee: Originally, I was a speech pathology major. I’d chosen that major because I wanted to help people, but I still remember the day I was sitting in class, looking at a slide of the anatomy of the inner ear, and internally screaming “I’ve got to get out of this major!”

To pick a new major, I thought of the people who had been the biggest influences in my life, and I realized how much I owed to my elementary art teacher Mike Riddle. His teaching style made me feel intelligent and creative every time I was in his class. I had the chance to make kids experience that same feeling of success and support, so I switched to Art Education.

How did you find your thesis topic?

AB: While working with the undergraduate Art Education students, I realized that in the past, I had truly fit the profile of "survival years" when I was a new teacher. I wondered if that rough time was because I’d not been actively engaging with the subject I taught—art—for those first years.

Around the time of this realization, I’d also been reading a lot and really appreciated Pearse1 and Rolling’s2 models of understanding/art-making. These three models (technical, situational and critical) perfectly indicated the three levels of awareness that I worked to balance when teaching and when making art. Tying that together with the belief that student teachers would be optimal arts-based researchers, I landed on my topic. Dr. Bain and Dr. Powell were kind enough to let me alter the calendar and assignments for the student teaching semester course in order to conduct my research.

Can you talk about how you quantified or evaluated the successes or challenges of your thesis research?

AB: One gigantic challenge was the choice to use a grounded theory methodology, which is much more common in social sciences than in the arts. Ultimately, it was the perfect fit for what I wanted to do, which was observe the levels and patterns of reflection that the student teachers were experiencing. I collected everything each student teacher wrote, created, or said relating to the course, and tied up open questions with an interview. I then tallied each and every reflection as they fell within the three Pearse/Rolling models. By chronologically charting this data, I was able to see when each student teacher experienced different types of reflection and understanding, in regards to six different categories. It was amazing to see their focus shift, and how they grew and changed.

How do you hope your research is utilized either at UT Austin in shaping the undergraduate AED curriculum, or at other institutions?

AB: My hope is that the concept of the student teacher as researcher will become a strong focus at UT Austin and elsewhere. Artists are researchers, exploring and expressing what they capture. Art Education student teachers have an established connection to reflective practices through their studio courses. I believe that guiding them to process their emerging career, through and with art, could be a very natural and fulfilling part of their preparation.

What was it like to raise your children and deal with your graduate work at the same time? Any advice to pass along to others?

AB: It was not easy, but it might become easier when more women agree that it is not only okay, but absolutely wonderful, to want more than what fits into the categories of wife/partner and mother. At times I have almost felt guilty about having ambition, but there is no other path where I’d have found the happiness and satisfaction I receive from working this hard on something I care about so much.

Having a supportive partner who constantly prioritized family needs with me made all the difference. Jon and I worked on the big victory separately a lot, but we always planned our “attacks” together.

You will also be in a new position in the National Art Education Association (NAEA), Preservice Division Director, how do you hope to shape this position?

AB: The NAEA Preservice Division is the newest Division to join the NAEA Board of Directors. This team is going to support existing student chapters nationwide, and reach out to other art and art education programs that do not yet have NAEA affiliation. We’re trying to reach out to every future classroom, community, or museum educator, as well as future teaching artists and those in related fields.

Since I only have a two-year role as Director, I think realistically we will only foster better connections and increase the diversity of our chapters during my time. The Division Director-Elect Jessica Burton and I share a long-term goal of creating our Division to be a space for future art educators to connect, encourage, share concepts, plans and career ideas, and grow professionally before they are actually in the field. Ideally, I’d love to see preservice art educators weighing in on the current educational climate, and advocating for art in students’ lives. It’s a really exciting time to be involved.

1Pearse, H. (1983). Brother, can you spare a paradigm: The theory beneath the practice. Studies in Art Education, 24(3), 158-163.

2Rolling, J. (2013). Arts-based research primer. New York: Peter Lang.

Q+A with Rachel Simone Weil

Sun. August 30, 2015


woman wearing bright green and pink and white striped shirt poses for photo
Photo by Marjorie Becker/Chiptography

Rachel Simone Weil (M.F.A. in Design, 2014) is an experimental video game developer and design historian whose work explores the intersections of femininity and twentieth-century gaming. Weil runs FEMICOM, the feminine computer museum, creates NES games and glitch art under the alias Party Time! Hexcellent!, and helps organize Austin's monthly indie games event, Juegos Rancheros.

She answered the following questions by email.

FEMICOM Museum was started around the time you also began the M.F.A. program in Design at UT Austin. How did your goals for FEMICOM Museum change as you progressed through the program?

Rachel Simone Weil: I founded FEMICOM Museum right before my graduate studies began, and I'm certain that the two informed one another throughout my time as a student at UT Austin. Since the beginning, my goal with FEMICOM has been to document the history of femininity in video games and game culture. But as a student, I was pressed to ask myself why: Why does this matter to me? Why should it matter to others? My coursework in design as well as in outside disciplines such as rhetoric, Japanese history, and girls' media studies played a critical role in finding answers. I realized that FEMICOM wasn't really just about archiving video games about fashion and dating; it was also about broader concerns such as historical erasure, adult anxieties around girlhood, and the place of girls and women in computing history.

You describe yourself as a video game developer and design historian, but you also make art for the Nintendo Entertainment System. So you're also an artist. How do all these titles and hats work together in your practice?

RSW: They do all come together, it seems! The video games I create for the NES are mostly experimental art games or little interactive installations. I don't imagine ever selling them alongside the latest console or mobile games. I'm interested in engaging with the history of femininity in video games, and in the name of historical accuracy, I go to all kinds of trouble to develop games for hardware that's been obsolete for decades. So there's little commercial application for something like that. But it does allow me these opportunities to simultaneously play the role of Good Historian and Bad Historian. The Good Historian does all the archival and curation work for FEMICOM, while the Bad Historian dreams up all these new video games and passes them off as old artifacts. All together, it points toward this idea of very seriously questioning what we believe to be true about the history of video games and computing.

This summer, you received a residency at MASS Gallery. What are you aspirations for the time?

RSW: During my artist residency at MASS Gallery, I'll be playing more Bad Historian. I'm making artifacts and ephemera from feminine 1980s and 1990s video arcades that never existed. As someone whose primary mode of working is programming rather than building in the physical world, I'm excited to have the opportunity to do weird work that gets me way outside of my comfort zone.

What other upcoming projects are you excited about?

RSW: For the second time, I'm helping put together Fantastic Arcade, an experimental arcade that pops up at the Highball during the Alamo Drafthouse's Fantastic Fest. This year, Fantastic Arcade starts on September 28. And for the second time this semester, I'll be teaching Game History and Critical Theory here at UT Austin.

Upcoming events:

Artist Talk at MASS Gallery
Thursday, August 27, 7 p.m.

FEMICOM Museum will have a pop-up games exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London
Friday, August 28, 2015, 6:30 p.m.

Open Studios at MASS Gallery
Friday, September 4, 7–11 p.m.

Follow Weil on Twitter @FEMICOMuseum

Carma Gorman publishes article in Texas CEO

Mon. August 24, 2015

white overlapping hexagon and cube forms on green background

Carma Gorman publishes an article entitled, "How U.S. Law Shapes American Design," in Texas CEO Magazine.

Clayton Smith Westmeier presents exhibition at ATM Gallery

Wed. August 19, 2015

two roses, one on fire, in front of pink wall
Image courtesy of Clayton Smith Westmeier.

Clayton Smith Westmeier (BFA in Studio Art, 2013) presents a collaborative exhibition,  Mi{Ne}mesis Rose: Dea ex Machina, at ATM Gallery & Studio. The exhibition will be on view August 22–29, 2015.