CentralTrak Set to Open New Season with ‘Satellites’ Exhibit Probing for a Response

Christopher Blay’s newest sculptural installation, “Satellites,” hints at a high-tech world with decidedly low-tech materials. He used umbrellas and windshield sunscreens to build the artwork.

As the fall semester is set to begin on campus, CentralTrak, UT Dallas’ artist residency and gallery, is opening its fall season with an exhibition from Liberian-born artist Christopher Blay. 

“We are gearing up for a fantastic year,” said Heyd Fontenot, the director of CentralTrak.

“We have a new influx of graduate residents, and there is a lot of energy here. CentralTrak changes with every new artist who arrives here," Fontenot said. "Every individual brings new ideas, new culture, new technology — sometimes they rethink how we can use older technologies — but the mix, the chemistry is always new.  It’s a very generative place.” 

Blay, who is an artist-in-residence at CentralTrak, will present his most recent sculptural installation beginning Saturday. The opening reception starts at 8 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Conceived as an effort to coax a response from his audience, Blay’s exhibition, titled “Satellites,” focuses on the often one-sidedness of the visual art experience.  

Christopher Blay

Christopher Blay

“Performers in the theater have the benefit of a live audience who generate real-time reaction, but visual artists rarely get feedback or immediate responses. Art is a form of communication but that does not guarantee or equate to an audible response back to the artist,” Blay said. 

“I’ve had a few conversations recently that made me think about our work as artists, and how we communicate with audiences outside the world of art," Blay said. We put a lot of research and time into making work, so it’s not unreasonable that we have a certain expectation that our audiences reciprocate, but I sometimes wonder if our communication is a closed loop.” 

‘Satellites’ Exhibit

What: Opening reception for “Satellites” by Christopher Blay. The exhibit will be on display until Saturday, Sept. 20.
When: 8-10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23
Where: CentralTrak, 800 Exposition Ave., Dallas
Cost: Free and open to the public

Blay’s work hints at a high-tech world with decidedly low-tech materials. He constructs representations of communication satellite equipment using cheap umbrellas and windshield sunscreens in a process that transforms mundane materials into portraits of more fanciful objects.  

Blay is recipient of the 2013 Meadows Museum of Art’s Moss/Chumley Award, a prize that acknowledges both an exceptional body of work produced as an artist and meaningful and generous involvement in the arts community. He earned a bachelor’s degree in photography from Texas Christian University and founded the Group f8 photography collective in Fort Worth in 2000. 

Blay recently received a Fort Worth Public Art commission for the Rosedale/Evans Avenue neighborhood that will be completed in 2015. Among his other works, “The Ark on Noah Street,” a project funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, will be presented at the 2014 conference of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture in Nova Scotia. 

Blay serves as curator of Tarrant County College’s Art Corridor Gallery

CentralTrak, established in 2008 in the historic Deep Ellum neighborhood near downtown Dallas, is dedicated to the creation, presentation and advancement of the contemporary arts. 

‘Best Art Space’ in Big D

This year, CentralTrak begins its season with a new designation — Dallas’ best art space. 

The title was given by D Magazine, which noted that CentralTrak functions as a community hub and that “in addition to featuring consistently challenging exhibitions, the space hosts lectures, discussions, parties, and avant-garde and experimental music performances. It is the beating heart of Dallas’ growing and deepening art scene.” 

Heyd Fontenot, CentralTrak’s director, said he was thrilled it was honored by the magazine. 

Heyd Fontenot has been the director of CentralTrak since 2011.  

“This is the sixth year of CentralTrak, and we have incredible momentum. I’m very excited to know that North Texas is finding CentralTrak to be an important resource for UT Dallas, its students and for the downtown arts scene that is more maker-centric. 

“Much of our audience consists of working artists, musicians, writers — people who create and cultivate the arts, not just patrons or consumers of culture, but people who participate and create culture.”

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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