Visual Art News
University of Texas at Dallas senior Angela Cheryl Willis joined the Navy at age 18 for one reason: She needed a way to pay for college so she could pursue her lifelong dream of a career in the arts.
Thanks to the military education benefits she earned from four years of active duty and two years in the Reserve, Willis started to work on her degree in 1987 but put schooling on hold in 1989 to start her family. Thirty years later, she has finally realized her dream by earning a bachelor’s degree in visual and performing arts from the School of Arts and Humanities.
Willis was recognized along with other military and veteran graduates during a special cord ceremony on May 6. Students who serve or have served in the U.S. military are invited to wear a special red, white and blue honor cord at commencement in recognition of their service.
“I’m so honored. Spending most of my life caring for my family, and happily so, I’ve always felt like I’m in the background. I’m not used to being catered to,” Willis said.
Since her adolescence, Willis said the arts have fed her soul — from community theater to music, photography and drawing. Though she wanted to pursue a career in arts and performance, her family couldn’t provide the financial means.
“I wanted to go to college, but there was no college fund for me. And my mother wanted me to pay rent. That wasn’t going to work,” Willis recalled.
After she saw the 1980 Goldie Hawn movie Private Benjamin, she thought, “Hey, that’s something I could do.”
Her father pleaded with her not to join the Army because he feared she’d experience combat, so Willis opted for the Navy. Boot camp was as hard as she expected, but the experience helped the 80 or so women in her unit to bond tightly.
“I’m a pretty stoic person. I was driven to get through boot camp and do whatever the commander told me to do,” Willis said. “They just tear you down to your core so they can build you up as a unit. When you graduate, you’re just in love with the others in your unit. These women became a part of my extended family.”
Ekaterina Kouznetsova BS’16 is making her mark on the local and international art scene as the founder of ArtMail, a subscription art service she conceptualized and launched just months after graduating.
The Russian-born Dallas resident serves as both creative force and personal curator at the company that mails subscribers museum-quality prints of new works from emerging international artists.
Kouznetsova parlayed the skills she learned in the University’s marketing, global business and art history programs with immersion in the local arts that began her first year in college.
“When I was just a freshman, I started getting very, very involved in the Dallas arts scene, and it became apparent that that was the industry I wanted to work in,” she says.
As a freshman, Kouznetsova landed a position at a local art gallery, followed by a fashion editor gig for Dallas-based magazine THRWD.
From there, she was asked to manage marketing for Dallas designers Susie Straubmueller and Lucy Dang, and was soon brought on as the international art editor for Nakid Magazine, where she reviewed the work of eight to 10 new artists each week for two years.
All this exposure to the arts industry started to add up, she says, noting that “patterns began to emerge.” Kouznetsova observed how talented artists from around the world were facing similar challenges, namely a lack of both exposure and sustainable income.
“So often, [the art industry] comes off as a very sterile, unwelcoming place,” she says. “And I thought, there’s got to be a better way to fix all these issues.”
In her final semester at UT Dallas, Kouznetsova was taking 21 hours while also working as Nakid’s international arts editor — the same semester she decided to start building her new business.
“I’m one of those people that unless I’m overwhelmingly busy, I feel like I’m wasting time,” she says with a laugh.
In 2016, Kouznetsova spent the summer abroad exploring the international market, primarily in London, as part of her global business studies. Following her August graduation, she drew from her expanded knowledge of art curation and launched ArtMail to the public later that year with a roster of 20 artists.
Kouznetsova used Instagram and a website to market the new business, which earned her a hat tip in the visual arts section of The Dallas Morning News.
The goal, she says, was simply to craft an open atmosphere for artists intimidated by traditional galleries, while also making emerging art and decor accessible to the general public.
“I try to ensure a steady stream of income for the artists so that they can keep on creating work,” she adds. “Each artist receives a very, very generous commission that is higher than any other printing company by far, on both prints and originals.”
Kouznetsova explains that most galleries and curators will keep as much as half of a work’s selling price, but she takes “much less.”
The subscriber receives a certified giclée print guaranteed to last 150 years, along with an artist interview and certificate of authenticity.
“I work to promote the stories behind the art and to create multicultural connections between artists and clients,” Kouznetsova says. “This creates an extra level of connection and education between the collector and artist; it’s not just going to a store and buying a random print.”
So how does it all work? Kouznetsova says art lovers can sign up online, where they are prompted to pick their favorite paintings from a menu of options. The process, which takes about three minutes on the subscriber’s end, provides Kouznetsova with enough information to curate a customized selection of artists and prints.
Prints are matted in specially designed environmentally sustainable frames “made of recycled biomatter with a clear light acrylic on the front with UV coating,” she says.
The bonus: They’re incredibly light.
The company also offers original works for purchase, ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.
As for the future for ArtMail, “We’re building a neural net,” she says, “an AI as an experiment in art curation.”
“We’ve actually already built it out in print data, with tens of thousands of referral points. For now, it’s been surprisingly accurate, predicting pieces that I personally curate.”
Kouznetsova hopes to eventually release the technology, but for now, all works are selected by the entrepreneur herself. Her stake in the international art scene is expanding.
Kouznetsova reports that she recently began a collaboration with curator Deve Sanford and the Ritz-Carlton in Abu Dhabi.
“ArtMail is creating connections between an artist in Thailand and a software engineer in Dallas,” she says. “I’m very glad that I live in a world where I’m able to do that and facilitate those connections.”
Our current art exhibition, Transmission Reentry, at the SP/N Gallery has gotten a substantial amount of publicity and began with a tremendous opening last Friday with an attendance of 150+! The show made Glasstire’s top 5 picks of the week in Texas, KERA Art & Seek’s pick for last Friday, and now… an article in D Magazine!
Event Information: The SP/N Gallery at The University of Texas at Dallas presents the group exhibition Transmission Reentry which explores the Latinx diaspora in the United States and the disparate influence of American exceptionalism. The artists selected for this exhibit come from different backgrounds and explore different mediums. They examine their own cultural identity and its historical ambiguity. They are local artists who recognize the credence of western ideas but also have the coraje to challenge it.
This exhibition features artists: Sheryl Anaya, Sara Cardona, Carlos Donjuan, Alejandro Diaz, Angela Faz, Jonathan Molina-Garcia, John Hernandez, Benito Huerta, Daniela Cavazos Madrigal, Lucas Martell, Analise Minjarez, Rachel Muldez, Eduardo Portillo, Lupita Murillo Tinnen, Sarita Westrup, Fabiola Valenzuela. Transmission Reentry is curated by Giovanni Valderas (Dallas).
Curator Biography: A native of Dallas, Giovanni Valderas is the Assistant Gallery Director at Kirk Hopper Fine Art. He served as an appointee of Dallas City Council as Vice Chair of the Cultural Affairs Commission, under Mayor Mike Rawlings. Valderas, an MFA graduate from The University of North Texas, has taught at UNT, Mountain View and Richland College, and most recently was reappointed to the City of Dallas Cultural Affairs Commission to serve under Councilman Omar Narvaez. His work has been featured in the 2013 Texas Biennial, New American Paintings Magazine, and Impossible Geometries: Curated works by Lauren Haynes at Field Projects in New York City. In addition, Valderas recently received a micro-grant from the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas for his guerrilla site-specific project.
Desmond Blair BA’07, MFA’09 received the 2017 Undergraduate Alumni Achievement Award in the spring. Raised in the Pleasant Grove area of Dallas, Desmond is an acclaimed visual artist who was born with a limb difference — he never uses the term “disability.” His works — primarily portraits in oils on canvas — have helped raise more than $20,000 for local charitable organizations. The importance of education was emphasized in Desmond’s life from day one, when his mother’s doctor urged her to give him the best education possible. “She did just that throughout my public school years,” he said, “by finding various academic and arts programs.”
Desmond graduated from Skyline High School in Dallas at age 16, and the challenge became finding a college that would enable him to excel and would be affordable for his single-parent family. “I got accepted to several out-of-state arts schools, but we couldn’t afford the tuition,” he said. Around this time, Desmond learned of the program that eventually became the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC) at UTD. “Everything I needed or wanted to study was right here in DFW,” he said.
Desmond credits his alma mater with more than leveling the playing field for someone with a limb difference — it gave him an edge in achieving his goals. “Having a group of really sharp peers combined with exceptional professors forced me to continuously push myself to new levels. I got the best education my mom could give me.”
Through the ATEC program, Desmond honed traditional-art abilities and transferred them to digital media. After a period as an ATEC adjunct teaching 3-D modeling, Desmond now works in the IT department for the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, where he was once a patient. “My time at UTD was just as much about learning life lessons as it was about education,” Desmond said. “Time management, prioritizing responsibilities, helping others and volunteering, and learning to adapt and do basic things most people with all of their limbs overlook — I learned all of these things at UTD.”
He participated in a charity art auction for Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in 2011, an occasion Desmond says changed how he viewed his artistic pursuits. “My first showing helped me get serious about my painting and using it to support causes that help others,” he said. “Since then, I’ve helped raise money for a variety of causes, from art education to cancer research.”
Desmond notes several faculty and staff members in particular, including Dr. Marjorie Zielke in ATEC, who set him on the path to his career as a project manager. “My time at UTD will always be cherished,” he said.
The University of Texas at Dallas will unveil a new 6,000-square-foot visual arts gallery complex with an inaugural exhibition celebrating the works of noted alumni artists.
“Critical Mass” features 45 artists who received visual arts degrees from UT Dallas and went on to have successful careers in the arts. The show includes works in video, computer-generated graphics, constructed photography, social practice, robotics and installation arts, as well as more traditional studio art disciplines.
The opening reception for the new space will take place from 4-7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 1. The exhibition runs through Nov. 11.
Dr. Dennis Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities and the Ignacy and Celina Rockover Professor of Humanities, said the exhibition highlights diverse works of UT Dallas artists who have achieved recognition in the regional, national and international scenes.
“It is my hope that the retrospective exhibition and the new gallery call attention not only to the success of the visual arts during the past 20 years, but also — and more importantly — to the benefits that a vibrant and varied cultural environment bring to the University,” Kratz said.
The gallery is located on the northwest corner of campus in the Synergy Park North 2 building. The complex consists of two conjoined exhibition spaces dedicated to both student and professional creative research, including two project rooms, a reception area, an office and a preparation space. The gallery also will house the Comer Collection of Photography.
“I look forward to a future when UT Dallas provides not only world-class facilities and support for advanced achievement in the arts by our majors, but also integrates into the education of every student opportunities for active engagement with the arts,” Kratz said.
From a translation of a sprawling, 464-page Romanian novel to a study on the automobile as conceptual art, faculty from the School of Arts and Humanities have recently produced research on a wide range of topics.
Translation of ‘Blinding’
Dr. Sean Cotter has translated Blinding, a novel written by Romanian author Mircea Cartarescu.
Dr. Sean Cotter, associate professor of translation studies and literature, has translated Blinding (Archipelago Books), a novel written by Romanian author Mircea Cartarescu. The book is part “dream-memoir, part fictive journey through a hallucinatory Bucharest.” A bestseller in its home country, Blinding takes the reader on a “mystical trip into the protagonist’s childhood, his memories of hospitalization as a teenager, the prehistory of his family, a traveling circus, secret police, zombie armies, American fighter pilots, the underground jazz scene of New Orleans, and the installation of the communist regime.”
“A trilogy spanning more than 1,300 pages, Blinding is the most significant creation of contemporary Romanian prose, as much for its wide readership as its brilliant vision,” Cotter said. “A translation of the novel offers readers the opportunity to not just read about the Romanian text, but in a literal sense, to live through it.”
Last year, Cotter won the 2013 Best Translated Book Award in poetry given by Three Percent, the international literature magazine of the University of Rochester, for his translation of Wheel With a Single Spoke and Other Poems by one of Romania’s most influential poets, Nichita Stanescu.
Automotive Prosthetic by Dr. Charissa Terranova
Automotive Prosthetic: Technological Mediation and the Car in Conceptual Art (University of Texas Press), written by Dr. Charissa Terranova, assistant professor of aesthetic studies, combines critical and new media theory to form the first philosophical analysis of the car within works of conceptual art.
The study illuminates the ways in which the automobile becomes a naturalized extension of the human body, creating new forms of “conceptual car art.”
“The automobile functions as an apparatus — a prosthetic connected to the body and systems of infrastructure — through which to see and experience the world, both in motion on the highway and as a citizen interconnected to other citizens of the world. Here the car is fathomless. It is a mode of communication roving through a system of roads and within, as we will find, the culture of conceptual art,” Terranova wrote.
‘Thinking the Poetic Measure of Justice’
Thinking the Poetic Measure of Justice by Dr. Charles Bambach
Philosophy professor Dr. Charles Bambachhas written a new book that examines the work of two philosophical poets who stand in conversation with the work of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger.
Thinking the Poetic Measure of Justice (SUNY Press) engages the works of two philosophical poets — Friedrich Hölderlin and Paul Celan — to rethink the question of justice in a nonlegal, nonmoral register by understanding it in terms of poetic measure.
“I try to offer close textual readings of poems from each that I see as defining and expressing some of the crucial problems of German philosophical thought in the 20th century,” Bambach wrote in the introduction of his book.
Bambach is also the author of Heidegger’s Roots: Nietzsche, National Socialism, and the Greeks and Heidegger, Dilthey, and the Crisis of Historicism.
With support from a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) summer stipend, Dr. Eric Schlereth recently completed archival research at several Texas institutions. Drawing from his research, he wrote and submitted an essay for publication that is forthcoming in the anthology Contested Empire: Rethinking the Texas Revolution (Texas A&M University Press).
Dr. Eric Schlereth
Schlereth said the most exciting part of his research happened during a stay at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at UT Austin. The Briscoe Center owns the diaries and correspondence of many Americans who took advantage of Mexico’s colonization laws to become Mexican citizens during the 1820s and early 1830s.
“These first-hand accounts provide a window into a moment in the history of the U.S.-Mexico border when Mexico had to deal with immigrants from the United States,” said Schlereth. “Perhaps the single most fascinating document that I found at the Briscoe Center was a passport issued in 1833 to a U.S. citizen. Incidentally, this passport is a large document considering its purpose. The original is 13 inches wide and 8 inches tall, and I find this nearly as interesting as the document’s content.”
The passport captures central themes in Schlereth’s current book project, Quitting the Nation: Expatriation and the Right to Leave the United States, 1776-1868.
“This passport highlights a period when U.S. citizens crossed international borders to join foreign nations or considered doing so as an expression of their rights. This history is important because it helps us reconsider assumptions that U.S. citizens in the early 1800s were confident in their political loyalties and in the future prospects of the United States,” Schlereth said.
According to the NEH, 920 people competed for 78 awards in 2013. Schlereth was one of three NEH stipend recipients in Texas.
‘The Problem South’
The Problem South: Region, Empire, and the New Liberal State, 1880-1930 by Dr. Natalie Ring
Associate professor of history Dr. Natalie Ring’s book The Problem South: Region, Empire, and the New Liberal State, 1880-1930 (University of Georgia Press), has garnered a string of recognitions. Ring was named a finalist for the Best First Book Prize by Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, and she was also named one of three finalists by the Texas Institute of Letters for the Most Significant Scholarly Book Award.
Ring’s book focuses on the “New South” and the period when Northern philanthropies, Southern liberals and the federal experts targeted the South for what they described as “readjustment” or “uplift.”
“The Problem South posits that the effort to reincorporate the New South into the nation was as much a process of rehabilitation and reform as one of political and cultural reunion,” Ring said. Her book is one of the first to examine this endeavor in a global context at the height of U.S. imperialism.
Ring is also the co-editor of The Folly of Jim Crow: Rethinking the Segregated South (Texas A&M University Press) a collection of essays based on the annual Walter Prescott Memorial Webb lectures held at the University of Texas at Arlington.
Eleven students from the School of Arts and Humanities will receive a total of $15,750, thanks to the Jonelle and Bryce Jordan Scholarship Fund.
The fund’s annual awards support undergraduate students in music, theater, dance, creative writing, visual arts, and arts and technology. The 2012-2013 recipients will each receive up to $2,500.
This year’s winners include:
Prizes Awarded to Students for Best Photography, Painting and Multimedia Works
May 11, 2012
Clair Sumption won best black and white photo with her piece Vicissitude.
The Student Art Spring Festival comes to a close this weekend with readings from creative writing students and the year’s final choral concert.
The festival kicked off last week with the student visual art show, which featured more than 40 works from students enrolled in arts courses. Heyd Fontenot, director of CentralTrak, UT Dallas’ artist residency and gallery, juried the exhibition. Fontenot awarded prizes to Clair Sumption for best black-and-white photo; Russell Mendolla for best digital print; Luke Harnden for best painting; Pierre Krause for best printmaking graphic; and Genesis Binion for best multimedia piece.
Holly Lynn’s book of photographs, Personal Space, won a Dean’s Award.
“There were several pieces in the show which I liked quite a lot but wasn’t able to award a prize. There was too much good work and not enough prizes. I was impressed with the output,” said Fontenot.
Four students received Dean’s Awards for their work: Alice Gardner-Bates, who was awarded for an untitled oil painting; Holly Lynn for her book of photographs, Personal Space; Maggie Wurzer for Contemporary Closet, a set of acrylic paintings; and Madison Martin Pachacek for her series of watercolor paintings, Speakeasy.
For the final weekend of the festival, five creative writing students will read their fiction works and poetry at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 12, in the Jonsson Performance Hall. The students, from graduate and undergraduate creative writing classes, are Christopher Manes, Lily Ounekeo, Andrew McConnell, Sabrina Palmieri and Lauren Davis.
Saturday, students will present the choral concert Earthly Delights and Music of the Spheres.
“The display of work by these students is emblematic of the quality of production that our creative writing classes generate. This reading offers the UT Dallas community an opportunity to support the efforts of these writers and to share in their talent and ability,” said Dr. Clay Reynolds, the University’s director of creative writing.
Also on Saturday, UT Dallas students will present the choral concert Earthly Delights and Music of the Spheres. At 8 p.m. in the University Theatre, the UT Dallas Community Chorale and the UT Dallas Chamber Singers will join a chamber orchestra in performing Ode to St. Cecilia’s Day by G. F. Handel, Choose Something Like a Star by Randall Thompson and works by Orlando di Lasso, Paul McCartney, Harold Arlen and Eric Whitacre, among others. The concert is directed by Mary Medrick and Kathryn Evans.
Both weekend events are free and open to the public. For more information, email [email protected] or call (972) UTD-ARTS.
It’s spring and hence time for students to show off their creative work from more than 40 School of Arts and Humanities courses.
The Student Arts Spring Festival gives audiences the opportunity to take in classical music, jazz, theater, dance, guitar, piano and vocal performances, as well as an art exhibition and reception. The festival, which involves the work of more than 600 students, starts Thursday and stretches over two weeks.
UT Dallas winds up its March arts calendar with explorations of such diverse subject matter as the state of the arts in Dallas and the status of Judaism in China.
All events for the week are free and open to the public.
Kicking off the events will be a talk Wednesday, March 28, titled, “The Jewish Diaspora in China,” by Dr. Xu Xin, director of the Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies at Nanjing University.
The guest speaker is a professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Dean of the Institute of Jewish Studies at Nanjing University in China. He is also president of the China Judaic Studies Association; editor-in-chief and a contributor to the Chinese edition Encyclopedia Judaica; and author of The Jews of Kaifeng, China: History, Culture, and Religion (2003) and A History of Jewish Culture (2006).
His talk is at 7:30 p.m. in the Jonsson Performance Hall.
The next night, art experts will gather Thursday, March 29, at CentralTrak, UT Dallas’ artist residency and gallery in Deep Ellum, to consider a topic closer to home.
In the program, titled “Radical Regionalism,” a panel of local professors, curators and gallery directors will try to reach consensus on what is unique about the arts in the city of Dallas.
The panel will include Dr. Charissa Terranova, an assistant professor of aesthetic studies at UT Dallas. The discussion moderator will be Leigh A. Arnold, a doctoral student at UT Dallas and a researcher at the Dallas Museum of Art.