Department of Art and Art History News

Alumni Spotlight: Meet Terah Walkup, BA in Art History, 2007

Fri. March 27, 2015

woman with yellow curly hair and glasses wearing black turtle neck poses
 

Terah Walkup (BA in Art History, 2007) is a research associate in the Department of Ancient and Byzantine Art at The Art Institute of Chicago.

Professor Glenn Peers: What informed your decision to move into curation rather than a scholarly track? How would you advise others who wanted to follow in your path and what other career options would that open to them?

Terah Walkup: I grew up in a household with little tags pasted underneath each piece of furniture listing the previous owners, their life dates, and location…so working in an art museum and doing provenance research was quite natural to me! As a freshman in 2003 I volunteered at the Blanton Museum of Art as a student docent. It was an exciting time because construction had just begun on the new museum building. During the four years I worked at the Blanton I gained an invaluable introduction to various aspects of museum work including education, audience development, and event planning.

Volunteering and internships are one of the best ways to gain the experience necessary to begin a museum career. One of my favorite memories of being an art history undergraduate was spending hours in the Fine Arts Library. It’s a great place to satiate curiosity once you become comfortable with a piano hanging over your head! Before joining the Department of Ancient and Byzantine Art as a curatorial research associate, I worked as a museum educator. That position required me to lecture about works of art across all of the Art Institute of Chicago’s collections and exhibitions. So having a broad knowledge base was essential.

GP: After you received your BA in Art History from UT Austin, you attended Northwestern University. How did you decide that graduate school was right for you?

TW: Whether or not to pursue graduate school is a difficult decision, particularly as the experience differs greatly from undergraduate studies. One of the most crucial skills to hone before embarking on any graduate degree is effective writing. The Art History faculty was my most valuable resource in that regard. After a study abroad trip to Sicily led by you [Professor Peers], I engaged in a long-term research project under your mentorship during which you guided me through the process of scholarly investigation.

Also extremely helpful was a seminar on Feminism and Visual Culture that I took with Professor Ann Reynolds. She helped us navigate challenging texts of critical theory while treating as fellow inquirers — a great preparation for graduate coursework. The application process is not only a personal commitment but a collaborative process with your professors, and I remain very much indebted to Professor Louis A. Waldman who graciously devoted hours to helping me craft my writing and to Professor Jeffrey Chipps Smith who lent encouragement and generous advice.

I would encourage current undergraduates interested in pursuing graduate work in art history to take a wide range of art history courses and take advantage of the number and range of humanities courses offered at UT Austin.

Participate in class — you will get to know your professors, peers, and find your voice. Connect with current graduate students in the department. Expose yourself to new research by attending lectures hosted by the department and events at the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art. Finally, it’s never too late to begin learning a foreign language. I rely on my knowledge of German and French regularly in my research and curatorial work.

GP: What aspects of the Art History program and your other experiences at UT Austin prepared you for your current work/research?

TW: One of the best things about the Department of Art and Art History are the people. Get to know your professors and peers in the department and find ways to collaborate on projects! I joined the Undergraduate Art History Association and after a few years took on a leadership role that connected me with fellow students who have since grown into stellar artists, museum professionals, and innovative leaders in the art world.

Get to know your campus resources. I consider my curatorial internship at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, where I learned to handle original works of art and the fundamentals of collections care, to have been a critical initial training in curatorial work. I was fortunate to work with curators in the Photography Department who walked me though the stages of exhibition planning and preparing objects for display. One of my projects was to catalog and house a box of photographic military portraits by E. O. Goldbeck. After working my way through the 200 records in the box, I asked about my next assignment and my supervisor walked me into the vault and showed me the remaining 50 or more boxes in the queue! There were almost 45,000 portraits and I had only made a dent over the course of the year.

GP: What current projects do you have coming up?

TW: As a research associate in a curatorial department my work involves exhibition management, art historical research on the permanent collection and loans, and educational programming. Though it closes in May, we are beginning the planning process of deinstalling an exhibition of international loans, Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections. I am organizing a celebratory symposium that will take place at its close. Looking forward, I am working on an exhibition opening this summer that explores Dionysos as the god of wine and theater. It’s a collaborative effort between two curatorial departments and will pair Classical antiquities with early modern prints. Perhaps someday I’ll be able finish cataloging those photographs…only 44,000 to go!


Related topics:

Student Spotlight: Meet some of our newest BA in Art History graduates
Student Spotlight: Meet some of our our newest BFA and BA Studio Art graduates

Student Spotlight: Meet Caleigh Taylor, BFA in Visual Art Studies

Alumni Spotlight: Meet Karen Cervantes, BFA in Visual Art Studies, 2013
Alumni Spotlight: Meet Lucy Parker, BFA in Studio Art, 2012

Eric Zimmerman presents solo exhibition art Art Palace

Fri. March 27, 2015

graphite drawing of crocodile in water
Albino Crocodile (Cave of Forgotten Dreams), ink on paper, 22 x 30 inches

New work by Eric Zimmerman (MFA in Studio Art, 2005) is featured in a solo exhibition, Elegy for Left Hand Alone, at Art Palace in Houston, Texas. The exhibition will be on view April 10 – May 9, 2015. From the press release:

Zimmerman’s new drawings, sculpture, zine, and sound piece contained in the exhibition are references to the human place within the world and our effect upon it. Present in this new work is an oblique questioning of the way in which we construct knowledge and a direct interrogation of our need for explanation, quantification, and understanding. A subversion of these needs is sought by placing a range of images and objects within context and proximity of one another in order to establish a series of open-ended and leading propositions.

Alumni Spotlight: Meet Karen Cervantes, BFA in Visual Art Studies, 2013

Fri. March 27, 2015

woman in black shirt posing for portrait in front of dark back drop
 

Karen Cervantes (BFA in Visual Art Studies, 2013) teaches at Zavala Elementary School in Austin, Texas.

Professor Christina Bain: What has surprised you about teaching these past few years?

Karen Cervantes: The students’ engagement is crucial to the whole art lesson. The more engaged they are, the better the effort in their work and the more meaning they add to their artwork. I’m surprised at how well I’ve learned to think on my feet because no matter how organized and planned I’ve been, something unexpected always comes up like fire drills, paint spills or never-ending waiting time. Also, the environment in the art classroom is completely different from the students’ regular classrooms and I’ve been learning to embrace the differences. It’s okay to have an organized “chaotic” art class.

 

CB: What aspects of the program at UT Austin most prepared you for post-grad life?

KC: My art education classes completely changed my perspective on how to view art and its significance in our society. Art can be an educational tool, a voice, an opinion... not just a hobby. Elementary students can be taught about big ideas such as social justice, identity, and culture. Elementary art doesn’t just have to be the basics of art or cookie-cutter art; it can be full of meaning and importance too. My passion for art and for teaching has grown and it’s all thanks to my amazing and unforgettable professors Dr. Christina Bain, Dr. Paul Bolin and Dr. Kara Hallmark.  

CB:   What advice would you give to graduating students?

KC: Once you’ve landed the job, building your classroom environment is completely on you. I did not want to emphasize my classroom rules my first year and mid-year, I was having a ton of behavior problems. Lesson learned. You can still be the cool hip art teacher but with some cool hip structure in the classroom. As a second year teacher, I take advice from veteran teachers all the time and one I keep hearing is to be consistent with your consequences. Don’t be afraid when administrators or mentors come watch you teach. Their criticism or suggestions can end up helping you and how things flow in the classroom.


Related topics:

Student Spotlight: Meet some of our newest BA in Art History graduates
Student Spotlight: Meet some of our our newest BFA and BA Studio Art graduates

Student Spotlight: Meet Caleigh Taylor, BFA in Visual Art Studies
Alumni Spotlight: Meet Lucy Parker, BFA in Studio Art, 2012
Alumni Spotlight: Meet Terah Walkup, BA in Art History, 2007

Student Spotlight: Meet some of our our newest BFA and BA Studio Art graduates

Thu. March 26, 2015

Raul De Lara

rauldelara.com

sculpture of post with arms with fish tank and beta for head
Luchador, 2014, Beta fish, cedar, oils, and H20

Tell us a little about your background.
I was born and raised in Mexico, then moved to the United States at age 13. I attended high school here and started my college career at ACC. After finishing up my core classes at ACC while simultaneously taking a variety of art classes, I decided to apply to The University of Texas at Austin. I wanted to join UT Austin because I knew that I could really benefit from the education here and also grow as an artist and individual. At this point in time, I knew that I was ready to pursue a challenging program filled with opportunity and passionate people as myself.

What informs your work and how has it evolved as your progressed in the program?
Starting UT Austin, I was in the Design program with the intention of developing my idea of "bridging the gap between art and design". I have always been fascinated with high-craft, figure and functionality. I grew up in Mexico with a father who is an architect and a mother who is an interior designer. My Mexican roots and family shaped my views and eye for art and design. Experimenting from a young age with materials, machinery and power tools, I instantly became addicted to creating using my hands. Around the age of 8, I knew that I wanted to be an Artist. This is why most of my work throughout my UT Austin career has been highly involved with my hands. I now experiment with different blends of sculptural work and function. I try and create work that not only highlights handwork, but also has an identified everyday purpose.

Do you prefer a specific medium, why does it work best for you? Or do you enjoy moving from medium to medium?
I have always experimented with different kinds of materials ranging from blown glass to wooden joinery. I have to admit that working with any species of wood is my favorite medium. I find wood a very interesting material because of its wide spectrum of colors, textures, density, etc and because it is a live material. It reacts to its surroundings, your tools, and to its years of existence. I currently have been exploring furniture design using only hand tools for the creation of complex joinery, and I have also been creating life-size sculptures that explore the ideas of human gestures, humor, and sexuality.

What are your plans for future?
Graduate from UT Austin with honors, then soon after, I will be taking part in an incredible experience at Ox-Bow. I was awarded a Fellowship for the summer 2015 where I will be producing work for three months at Ox-Bow Academy of the Arts in Saugatuck, Michigan. There will be so many visiting artists and students from all over the nation ready to explore ideas, learn from each other and connect. I am so excited about this! Once Ox-Bow is over, I will be working on different projects in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. Ideally, I would like to join a graduate program for sculpture or furniture design the following year, but we will see what happens.

Tsz Kam

zekam.tumblr.com

black, purple, pink, and white abstract painting hanging on white wall
Wet Dream, 2015, spray enamel, acrylic and mixed media, 8.5 x 10 inches

Statement: I rely on the language of painting and the physicality of paint to deconstruct the language of desire into abstraction, often using indulgent images and textures in gross amount to question the viewers’ desire. I am also interested in transforming various commercial materials into different textures. The easily available arts and craft materials are important to me because I want to show that the most common objects and material can be transformed into something exotic. My choice in material serves as a metaphor for how bodies of color exist in greater numbers but are also cheaper and considered more exotic than white normative bodies. The exotic is a monstrous beauty. We value what we find beautiful; however, exotic beauty is not valued. Exotic beauty is cheap and frivolous in the western capitalist society, like neon colored duct tape or nylon pom poms. I am interested in using these familiar materials to create alien forms that seem to be self-multiplying with material waste.

Tell us a little about your background.
I am from Hong Kong and moved to Houston when I was 13. I went to high school in Houston and attended UT Austin to stay close to my relatives in Houston. I also liked the fact that UT Austin is a research institute. I wanted to access a style of learning based on critical thinking and self-motivated questioning.

What informs your work and how has it evolved as your progressed in the program?
I was always very aware of the fact that I have an exotic feminine body and live the South ever since I moved to the states. I identify as gender non-binary
and don't identify with being a woman and constantly being objectified as one is like cognitive dissonance. I've always struggled with this idea of being beautiful vs being exotic. As I progressed through the program my work has become less didactic and more complex in terms of dealing with these issues.

fur, paint, and styrofoam and collage with faces on panel hanging on wall
Untitled, 2015, mixed media, 10" x 11"

Do you prefer a specific medium, why does it work best for you? Or do you enjoy moving from medium to medium?
I work with mixed media and a lot of other arts and craft materials that are not fine art materials. I am interested in those cheap materials because of their relationship with consumerism and material waste. I am primarily interested in painting since it is inseparable from the history of image making. My work is becoming more sculptural but they are still a reaction to the tradition of painting.

What are your plans for future?
I plan on getting my MFA in the future but right now I would like to take a break
from the academic environment. I feel like my work is constantly evolving and I want to get to a point where I am less freaked out by this before I attend a graduate program.


See work by De Lara, Kam, and additional graduating students in the exhibition Up+Up at the Visual Arts Center through April 4, 2015.

Related:

Student Spotlight: Meet some of our newest BA in Art History graduates
Student Spotlight: Meet Caleigh Taylor, BFA in Visual Art Studies
Alumni Spotlight: Meet Karen Cervantes, BFA in Visual Art Studies, 2013

Alumni Spotlight: Meet Lucy Parker, BFA in Studio Art, 2012
Alumni Spotlight: Meet Terah Walkup, BA in Art History, 2007

Kimbell Foundation grant supports Art History pilot course, Seminars on Site, in Fall 2015

Thu. March 26, 2015

image of Rome at dusk with buildings and landscape blurring into darkness
Image courtesy of Penelope Davies

The Department of Art and Art History received a grant from the Kimbell Foundation that will enable the first course offering of Seminars on Site.

“To our knowledge, the proposed seminar would be unique among art history programs nationwide,” remarked Dr. Penelope Davies, assistant chair of Art History. “This seminar will enhance the reputation of the Department of Art and Art History and increase the department’s appeal for prospective students.”

The pilot seminar, entitled Architecture and Decoration in Pre-modern Rome: Patronage, Politics, and the Past, will be offered to graduate Art History students in the Fall semester in 2015. Taught by Dr. Penelope Davies and Dr. Joan Holladay, the seminar will travel to Rome.

Each iteration of the seminar will be co-taught by two members of the Art History faculty, drawn from different areas of specialization, and will address a theme that is pertinent to both areas of expertise. During the course of the semester, seminar participants will make two class trips: one to the Kimbell Art Museum to study its collections and view objects that are central to the themes highlighted in the course, and the other will last one week to ten days and will target a destination, usually abroad, that is pertinent to one of the areas covered in the class.

This seminar will create a formal structure that encourages exchange between students and faculty of diverse areas and builds bridges between them, precisely as disciplines are growing increasingly balkanized throughout academia. Students will learn from one another, from their faculty, and also from observing the interplay between the faculty members.