Thu. March 31, 2016
Art History senior Katherine Jessen received an Undergraduate Research Fellowship for her paper "Assessing the Impact of the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville, Arkansas." The Undergraduate Research Fellowship provides financial support for scholarly research projects conducted by undergraduate students. Jessen's paper abstract follows:
This thesis surveys the multitude of ways that the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American art has affected the city of Bentonville, Arkansas and the surrounding region. The museum opened November 11, 2011 and was funded and envisioned by Walmart heiress, Alice Walton. Calculating the museum’s economic footprint, measuring increases in tourism, and looking at new development in the area offers a holistic view of how Crystal Bridges has altered the local economy. A thorough investigation of the museum’s educational initiatives and public programming demonstrates the museum’s effects on the community. Finally, I will describe how museum professionals and the media have perceived the museum and what the future looks like for Crystal Bridges and the area community.
Jessen will present her thesis during the Annual Undergraduate Art History Symposium on Friday, April 22, 2016.
Thu. March 31, 2016
Second year M.F.A. candidates in Studio Art traveled to New York City earlier this semester. However, this wasn’t a vacation weekend: the seven students visited over 25 galleries and six museums as a group (with time built into their schedule for additional individual visits to spaces of their choice).
“We got to see a lot of great art, courtesy of a tour with Gregory Volk,” says Laura Brown. “My favorite were the shows at Postmasters Gallery, which included a group show of small sculptures, all displayed on a huge, custom-made table, and another show of collaged embroideries by Sally Smart. We got to meet her and hear all about her process and practice from research to development to execution. As a person who really engages with process myself, that was interesting to hear about—especially since her materials and medium are not the most common or conventional.”
Gregory Volk, art critic, freelance curator and 2015 Viewpoint speaker, led the group on a day-long gallery tour that he organized. Volk even invited some of the exhibiting artists to come and talk to the students about their work.
“It was lovely to see Gregory again and to hear directly from gallerists and artists about the work we looked at,” Brown says, “It was great to hear Amy Sillman talk about her work and staying engaged with it after so many years of making and many life transitions. When I think about where I want to be in twenty years, I hope to have a practice with some longevity, and I know that doesn't just happen. It takes work and commitment and the ability to stay open and responsive to the world around you. I found it encouraging to meet artists at various stages of their careers and hear their experiences. Everyone has such a different story to tell.”
The trip is funded by an Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation grant as part of their Marketplace Empowerment for Artists program which works to provide professional artists with the skills necessary to navigate the contemporary art market. The students also met Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, 2015 UT Austin commencement speaker and College of Fine Arts Advisory Council member.
“Darren Walker really is the energetic, enthusiastic, magical person we were told he would be,” Brown says. “We all researched the history of the Ford Foundation, Mr. Walker's biography, and the changes he has brought to the organization before our trip. We had such a short time with him, but I could have sat there chatting with him for hours.”
While the four days of travel and a packed itinerary make a long weekend, the visit familiarizes the students to New York and allows them to meet artists, gallerists, and curators before returning to the quiet of their studios.
“My friends in New York simply seem over saturated. But that's not to say that one is better than the other,” Miller says. “For me it's a matter of temperament. I want to be able to focus on what's going on in my studio.”
Brown adds, “I grew up in rural places, so I am partial to smaller cities and communities. For its size, Austin has a good mix of galleries, studios, and active artists. I think that in smaller communities, there is a closer connection between artists and art appreciators. It's more accessible and human.”
Thu. March 31, 2016
In the offices of the Visual Arts Center (VAC), we fast forward to fall 2016 where Ph.D. candidates in Art History Dorota Biczel and Allison Myers are curating exhibitions. Both ambitious exhibitions will bring international artists to Austin, and Biczel and Myers have launched a fundraising campaign to raise $15,000.
“I think Austin is a very particular place,” said Biczel. “With its focus on creative industries and new, digital entrepreneurship, it’s quite far removed from the land, regardless of how much we enjoy its glorious outdoors. I hope that our exhibitions can serve as a reminder of Austin’s grounding in the larger Texas environment beyond the city limits and how important the land is to our collective wellbeing.”
Biczel, whose dissertation focuses on artists in Lima during the 70s and 80s, will bring artists Edi Hirose and Nancy La Rosa for an exhibition entitled Moving Mountains: Extractive Landscapes of Peru. The exhibition will draw attention to current environmental issues and how people reshape their landscapes. In a similar vein, Myers, whose research chronicles the reception of French art in the US during the 70s, will bring French artist Tania Mouraud for a solo exhibition entitled Regards. While in Texas, Mouraud will visit oil refineries and nuclear power plants across the state to gather material for her new work in the VAC.
“Much of Tania’s recent work has focused on the relationship between human activity and the natural world,” Myers described. “I wanted to commission a new Texas-based video installation from Tania, and she chose to approach it through the lens of Texas' investment in the energy industry. Tania's video and sound installations put viewers in direct contact with sites that are normally closed to the public, like refineries, paper mills and recycling centers. Her works emphasize the sensory experience of these places, so they connect with viewers on a visceral level. This connection helps to raise consciousness about humanity’s impact on the environment.”
Myers spend her childhood in a rural town outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma and went to Webster University in St. Louis. The open curriculum at Webster allowed her to focus on classes in art history, studio art and philosophy.
“I became interested in the process of writing histories about art, and the cultural and social forces that shape the way these histories are written,” said Myers. This curiosity brought her to UT Austin for a Ph.D. in Art History.
Biczel pursued studio art, working in primarily in printmaking, and attended the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts for her undergraduate degree. She moved to the U.S. in 2002 and began writing art criticism while running a small print studio in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Writing led her to completing dual degrees in Art History, Theory and Criticism and Arts Administration and Policy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
“When I finished, I realized I wasn’t done at all,” Biczel said. “It was clear to me that there was so much more work that needed to be done, which lead me to pursue a Ph.D.”
As both Biczel and Myers complete their dissertations, they are steadfastly planning exhibitions and are embarking upon a campaign to raise the money needed to bring their international artists to Austin.
“We’re incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to curate exhibitions with the support of the department behind us,” says Myers. “For me, it’s key that we have a lot of freedom to propose exhibitions and develop them while still having a supportive framework that helps us learn as we go. And any job in the arts is probably going to require fundraising at some time, so it’s great to be getting this experience now.”
Their fundraiser launches March 23 on Hornraiser, the university’s official crowdfunding platform. Biczel and Myers hope to raise $15,000 that will contribute to the transportation of artworks from and back to Lima and Paris, travel costs for the artist to be present at the exhibition openings and interact with students, framing, the construction of a video-projection room in the VAC, and production costs for Mouraud's new video commission.
“It’s exhilarating to be able to present some of the artists whom I admire to the arts community and general public at the VAC,” says Biczel. “I really believe that contemporary art can touch and affect anyone, regardless of age and education.”
Moving Mountains: Extractive Landscapes of Peru and Tania Mouraud: Regards will open September 23, 2016 at the Visual Arts Center.
Tue. March 22, 2016