Department of Art and Art History News

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.
 

Student Spotlight: Meet Caleigh Taylor, BFA in Visual Art Studies, 2015

Thu. March 26, 2015

woman in red and white striped dress sits on railing to pose for picture
 

Caleigh Taylor, BFA in Visual Art Studies, 2015

Tell us a little about your background.
I am from Houston Texas. I have loved art from a very young age. I also enjoy dancing and playing music. I draw most of my inspiration from my love of stories and nature.

How did the Visual Art Studies (VAS) program change you or your goals?
The VAS has changed how I see my working process as an artist. Now I see that it is important to me share my passion for art not only though my art but helping others to get to learn to love art as well!

Why was the program special to you?
This program was special to me because they have encouraged me to try new things not only as a teacher but also as an artist. The faculty see you as an artist first so they will help you in developing your own creative process. The student group Artist in Action helped me to see how to be an artist that is helping the community.

Now that you are student teaching, what has most surprised you?
Student teaching has taught me about myself. It has pushed me to be a stronger person and to have more confidence in myself. It has also helped me to make up my mind quickly. I did not see myself learning about myself as much as I have.


Related:

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
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

Alumni Spotlight: Meet Lucy Parker, BFA in Studio Art, 2012

Thu. March 26, 2015

rhinstone on black cloth next to two casts of stone
Image courtesy of Lucy Parker

Associate Professor John Stoney posed alumna Lucy Parker (BFA in Studio Art, 2012) a few questions over email.

John Stoney: When, in your undergraduate career, did you begin to think about where you wanted to be after school? How and why did you choose New York and what were your other options?

Lucy Parker:
It has always been important to me that I try and live in new places, so I knew that sometime after graduating I'd want to go somewhere, as early as freshman year, and it could have been anywhere. Some friends and I applied for the Undergraduate Professional Development Travel Grant and organized a trip to NYC senior year, and the subsequent trip was the first time I visited the city. Upon graduating I still had no definite idea of where I would go, but throughout undergrad, I made contacts — through professors, other undergraduate students, grads, and visiting artists — with people in New York. Those relationships made NY feel like a viable (and less intimidating) place to move and start a career.

JS: What was the best and worst of your first year in New York?

LP: The best thing was exploring and being exposed to so many great things in one place. Going to the Metropolitan Museum for a dollar, seeing amazing gallery shows for free and comedy shows for almost nothing, Central Park, cheap dumplings, meeting a diverse group of truly impressive people, and interacting with other artists.

The worst is just figuring out how to put your life together! I was poor, lonely, totally overwhelmed, and didn't feel like myself for longer than I expected. Slowly things have come together; it has just been told a matter of being very patient.

JS: You are currently working at Diana al-Hadid's studio. How did that happen and what do you do?

LP: Diana was a visiting artist in the Vaulted Gallery at the VAC when I was a senior, and we met when I volunteered to help install her work over a month-long period. We met again when some fellow students and I visited her at her studio while in New York, on the travel grant trip. I got to know her and some of her assistants and heard about the job through them!

I have been there for a year now, first being trained by Diana and a more experienced assistant. I'm now mostly working on and overseeing the fabrication of her panels, as well as assisting in sculptures. I also train new assistants.

JS: Outside of your job do you have time (and space!) to peruse your interests? In a place where everything is happening all the time, how do you balance your time?

LP: I'm not going to lie, it's a struggle! I don't currently have a studio space, for both a lack of time and money, but I do what I can at my desk space at home. The greatest New York challenge is definitely finding a balance between work, personal life, and art practice — I am still working it out.

But constraints can be generative too! While looking for ways to work in my small space, I've been saving for a faceting machine, to cut gemstones for both my sculptures and also as a means of income. I see it as practical and aesthetically interesting solution to making work.

I am still trying to do and see as much as I can! I try to keep a schedule of going to the galleries in Chelsea and the Lower East Side once a month. The openings in Bushwick are also a priority and easy to walk to right after work.

JS: Now that you have had several years perspective, what are your thoughts about your time at UT Austin? What advice would you give to graduating students?

LP: Be ambitious. Try to be open and really absorb everything you see and hear. I feel like I got everything I wanted out of undergrad (being part of an energetic art community, a show in the VAC, the travel grant, working and meeting artists and critics, learning the ins and outs of how the art world works) by trying to follow that advice. And read the things that are given to you in class!! I can't tell you how much I miss smart people giving me a curated reading list and then dedicated time for having a conversation about it...

Also, I'm still kicking myself for not taking performance, so do that if you are curious and still haven't done it!


Related:

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 Terah Walkup, BA in Art History, 2007

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

Thu. March 26, 2015

woman wearing glasses and white shirt with yellow hair poses for portrait

Jenna Ahonen

Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Art in Art History

Tell us a little about your background.
I have grown up all over the world but I graduated from high school in Southlake in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I decided to attend UT Austin mainly because of how highly regarded it is as a university but also because I was interested in exploring a diverse new city like Austin at the same time.

What lead you to your research topic?
My research topic focuses on the manifestation of the Constructivist art and architecture movement in Finland due to Russia's influence. Focusing on the Constructivist movement was ideal for me as it incorporated both of my degrees. In addition, my entire family is Finnish so I already had an interest in the specific region.

What was the greatest thing you learned from working with your faculty advisors throughout the program?
It may sound cliché, but I'm truly thankful for how supportive my faculty advisors have been throughout my entire time at the university. They have all taught me that it is completely possible to achieve everything one step at a time, whether it be my aspirations to double major or write a senior thesis.

What are your plans for the future?
Who knows! I have learned to love the process of design throughout my time in the architecture school but am not so sure that I am fully committed to designing
such large scale projects as buildings in the future. I find myself more interested in designing on a much smaller scale and am looking to working either in the industrial design or fashion design field upon graduation.


woman in red sweater and blue scarf poses for photo in front of tree

Erin Coupal

BA in Art History

Tell me a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in Austin. After graduating from high school in 2005, I went to a small college in Portland, Oregon for a few years. In 2008, I returned to Austin to pursue my interest in art conservation. I volunteered at Women & Their Work gallery, worked as an artist's assistant, and interned with a local conservator. While my work experience was invaluable, I needed to finish my degree in order to continue in my chosen field. I was already working with the Landmarks collection and given how invested I already was in the art community in Austin and the wealth of resources available at UT Austin, it made sense for me to stay in Austin to finish my degree. I currently work with the prints and drawings collection at the Ransom Center and continue to work with Landmarks.

What lead you to your research topic?
My interest in art conservation stems from a desire to ensure access to and support for art in every capacity. In every form of art (visual, musical, performance, literary, etc.) there is incredible expressions of individuals and communities. Creative expression is a universal one, so the work I do in some small way contributes to protecting that.

What was the greatest thing you learned from working with the faculty throughout the program?
My time at UT Austin has been a busy one (at one point I was juggling 4 jobs while in school full time). My various professors have certainly inspired my path. Dr. Stephennie Mulder, who specializes in Islamic Art and Architecture, has imparted a passion that extends beyond the academic realm. She incorporates her work as an archaeologist and her passion for the protection of cultural heritage into both her classes and her work with the UT Antiquities Action group. Dr. Jeffrey Chipps Smith, who specializes in Northern Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture, truly opened my eyes to the depth with which one can become acquainted with their chosen field. His high expectations of his students has pushed me many times to dig deeper into my research.

What are your plans for the future?
This summer, I will be volunteering in the paper conservation lab at the Harry Ransom Center, gaining valuable knowledge and experience in that specific field of conservation (so far, I have only worked with three-dimensional objects). I will be taking some additional chemistry and studio art classes, and eventually, will apply for a graduate program in art conservation. It is my hope to eventually work as a conservator with an emphasis on public art, be that around a city or in a museum.


woman with green scarf and black jacket poses for picture in Italy
 

Jessica Thompson  

BA in Art History
Recipient of a Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the Office of the Vice President and the Research or Conference travel Scholarship from the Office of Undergraduate Research to conduct a site visit in Pisa, Italy.

Tell me a little about yourself.
I grew up in Dallas, Texas. I’m a transfer student from another university, where I was an Illustration/Art History double major. I developed an interest in Museum Studies and wanted to come to a place where I had more resources to pursue a museum career. UT Austin has a great Art History program and the university is so big that you can pursue any interest you want. It turned out to be the perfect place for me.

What lead you to your research topic?
My research project is an extension of a paper I wrote for Art Historical Methods, the senior level research methodology class for Art History majors, about Nicola Pisano’s pulpit for the Pisa Baptistery. I became really interested in the Baptistery and its civic significance in medieval Pisa, and decided to pursue it for my honors thesis.

What was the greatest thing you learned from working with the faculty throughout the program?
I think the greatest thing I learned from working with my faculty advisor is the value of collaboration and communication. Dr. Ann Johns, my advisor, is incredibly supportive. She's helped me find sources, given me additional readings, and has asked a lot of questions that helped me think through my ideas and synthesize the information I've found. She’s challenged me to think deeply and critically about my project and working with her has been really rewarding.

What are your plans for the future?
I hope my future finds me working somewhere in museum education. I’ve been working with Teen Programs at the Thinkery for the past year and absolutely love it; I really enjoy sharing my passion for art and education with others.


Related:

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