Department of Art and Art History News

Read an excerpt from Ann Reynolds’ essay for the catalog Joan Jonas: They Come to Us without a Word

Sun. August 30, 2015

two women look up at painting
Ann Reynolds and Joan Jonas at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice, looking at Jacopo Tinotetto’s Massacre of the Innocents of 1582-87. Image courtesy of Ann Reynolds.

Professor Ann Reynolds wrote the main essay for the catalog accompanying Joan Jonas’ exhibition at the U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. The essay commission comes after more than a decade of her work with Jonas and the following is an excerpt from her essay, How the Box Contains Us.


Brilliantly lit by a world located outside the primary interior space depicted in the painting, this rectangle competes for attention with other, equally well-lit portions of the foreground and middle ground and seems to suggest not only another space within the painting or alter¬nate interpretations of the internal logic of the painting’s space, but also, perhaps, opportunities to consider Tintoretto’s painting in space. One might imagine Tintoretto’s bright rectangle as a discrete picture of an alternate event, time, or place, hovering like an apparition in an ambiguous relation to the space occupied by the biblical story of the Massacre of the Innocents. Or it could be a mirror reflecting a space beyond the physical confines of the painting. In any sense, Tintoretto’s painting may be experienced as a more open, fluctuating palimpsest of spaces that don’t always coalesce even as they coexist within a shared set of physical limit terms: the length and width of the canvas and the three dimensions of the room in the Scuola Grande.

It is quite a simple gesture, one that Joan Jonas often makes in her performances. She stands in front of a large, prerecorded video pro¬jected onto a wall or screen and holds up a piece of white paper or cloth, sometimes shifting it from side to side, tipping it slightly left to right, then right to left, shaking it, or using it to track or momentarily frame the movements of something in the projection behind her. Some¬times she makes drawings on the paper or holds it close to her body and traces her body’s contours onto it with a marker or crayon. The visual effects are subtle. Just a slight change in the distance or angle between the projector and the surface of the projection brings the por¬tion of the video image Jonas is capturing a bit closer and isolates, frames, and magnifies it slightly, in or out of focus, transforming the rest of the projected image into background. If the paper she holds up is black, Jonas’s gesture produces the opposite effect; it almost obliter¬ates part of the projected image and substitutes a black void or a white-on-black drawing for this temporarily “lost” portion.

During these actions, Jonas wears simple white or light-colored clothing, across which the projected video image also visibly extends, simultaneously absorbing her into it as she extends parts of it, her drawings, and herself outward. Through her gestures and these visual transformations, she subtly disrupts the internal logic of the prerecorded, projected image’s space and its figure/ground relationships by weaving them into her space and into the present, a space and time she also shares with her audience. These spatial effects are quite fleeting, as eventually Jonas drops the paper or cloth to the floor and moves on to something else, but during those moments, she is self-consciously challenging the viewer’s reflexive relation to viewing images of space in a manner that is similar to the potential experiences that Tintoretto’s paintings allow.

A few days after visiting the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Jonas asks: “Why do we make these spaces?”


Ann Reynolds, “How the Box Contains Us,” Joan Jonas: They Come to Us Without a Word. United Sates Pavilion, 56th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia. Edited by Jane Farver. Cambridge: MIT List Visual Arts Center, New York: Gregory R. Miller & Co. and Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2015, 18-27.

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 completed 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 Olivia Martin Moore

Sun. August 30, 2015

scultpure of rock floating in infinity pool
Untitled (Baltic Granite) Austin, 2011/2015 Formica laminate, extruded polystyrene, tape, urethane foam 56in x 54in x 54in

Olivia Martin Moore (M.F.A. in Studio Art, 2011) was selected for the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (the German Academic Exchange, DAAD) and will travel to Berlin later this fall.

Prior to her graduate studies she was recruited into a position as a Creative Clay Modeler in the automotive industry. Moore received a B.F.A. from the University of Cincinnati. She currently works as the Head Gallery Preparator for the John L. Warfield Center at UT Austin. Moore has exhibited nationally and internationally at venues such as The International Sculpture Center in Hamilton, New Jersey; Grand Arts in Kansas City, Missouri; Salt Lake Art Center in Salt Lake City, Utah; and Baumwollspinnerei in Leipzig, Germany. She was recently nominated for the prestigious Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant Program.

Moore answered questions by email.

How has your work changed or shifted from what you were working on while you were in the M.F.A. program? Why was there a shift (if any)?

Olivia Martin Moore: My work is constantly evolving and shifting yet it retains characteristics from the beginnings of my artistic career. I rarely work in series or make the same thing twice. However, recently I have been revisiting some of my work from graduate school and putting those pieces in new situations and contexts. For the first time I feel I am being inspired by my own work rather than site.

sculpture in gallery and works hanging on white walls
Between Here and There (gallery view), 2015

This summer you had a solo exhibition at Women and Their Work gallery in Austin, Texas. Can you describe the work?

OMM: When I finished the MFA program in 2011, I moved to Berlin for a year. I was fortunate enough to get a studio in the center of the city but I had no tools or equipment so I was left to devise new ways of working. I continued to use cast-away materials such as ephemera. Berlin was extremely inspirational to this part of my practice. I conceived of an entire show based on the objects and architecture around my studio space at Rosenthaler Platz. These ideas would become my solo show at Women and Their Work. While in Berlin I collected posters every day over the course of three months. As I gathered these posters, I rolled them into an increasing cylinder. Once one poster touched end-to-end I cross cut the tube to reveal the rings made by the individual posters. Most of these advertisements were for music related events. I knew I wanted to make an audio piece by assigning sound to the lines of color within the piece, to give voice to this archive of sound that I had obscured. This is how the entire body of work began.

In the fall, you are returning to Germany for the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst exchange program. What does it mean to you to revisit the country?

OMM: I came back to Austin after Berlin so I would be able to work directly with the DAAD representative at UT Austin. Returning now to Berlin will be a completely different experience. When I went the first time it was almost on a whim. I wanted to be in an art center but not LA or New York. I had never been to Germany previously. Now I will have the support of two institutions the, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst and Weißensee Kunsthochschule – Berlin. This means having access to all the resources that institutions afford an artist to do their research. It will be so much easier this time around. I won’t be reinventing my practice, just expanding upon it. Additionally, I will be able to travel. There is a DAAD meeting in Bonn and I will go visit friends in Austria and I plan to travel a bit in Eastern Europe. I hope these travels will inspire a new project with which I may apply for a Fulbright.

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