At The University of Texas at Austin, many respected artists of national and international reputation successfully create their own bodies of work while teaching and supervising the work of the next generation of artists. This month, the always-popular art faculty exhibition returns with a revised format to a new home at the Blanton Museum of Art. The show will now occur on a triennial basis with works selected by guest curators invited from across the country.
This year, James Elaine, curator of the Hammer Projects series at the Hammer Museum of Art at UCLA, has selected an intriguing cross-section of works from amongst the faculty's broad range of artistic production.
"Before coming to Austin, I was unaware of the breadth of talent of the university's faculty," Elaine said. "I was thrilled and excited by the level of talent and commitment I saw from every artist in every discipline and department.
Elaine said he hopes the exhibition and subsequent triennials will bring attention to the university's talented faculty and attract students from across the nation to the university.
Among the exhibiting faculty are former and current participants of the Whitney Biennial, widely exhibited, internationally recognized artists, and artists who are included in the collections of some of the country's most prominent museums.
"One of the reasons that Austin is known as one of the nation's most creative cities is that there is an incredible group of professional artists here at the University of Texas," said Annette DiMeo Carlozzi, the Blanton's director of curatorial affairs and curator of American and contemporary art. "They devote much of their lives to teaching and shaping future generations of artists. In our new museum, we can showcase the best of their own studio work in a world-class setting."
Exhibition highlights include the provocative paintings of Michael Ray Charles, in which race, class and identity is examined, while Tim High's prints juxtapose media images of historical tragedies with the canonical imagery of nineteenth-century master paintings.
Landscape is a theme explored by many of the faculty members, each of whom approaches it from a unique perspective.
Kate Catterall's installation of a modified air stream trailer and selections from the most recent project of Chris Taylor, co-director of the field program Land Arts of the American West, investigate our relationship to landscape through design interventions. Lawrence McFarland captures unremembered or unkempt sites of historical significance in his photographs of the American West, while Melissa Miller's paintings and watercolors comment on the ever-evolving Texas landscape, and the increasing exoticism of animals in the area. John Stoney also comments on this strange evolution in sculptures from his ongoing series about the American cultural and natural landscape.
Conceptual explorations in video are showcased with works from Bill Lundberg, Michael Smith, and the artist team of Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler. Ken Hale explores analogue and digital printmaking technologies in his series of collages.
Painter Richard Jordan and installation artist Margo Sawyer both examine the intricacies of complex color in abstracted and repeated motifs, though utilizing vastly different mediums and approaches. Conversely, Troy Brauntuch's monochromatic, barely-visible conte crayon renderings explore the idea of images and their presumed meanings, while Dan Sutherland's paintings navigate the terrain between figuration and abstraction.
"Atelier 2008: Selections from the University of Texas Art Faculty" will offer visitors a snapshot of current trends in contemporary art by many of today's leading artists, confirming the University's status as a premier institution for fine art scholarship and studio practice.