Texas Tech 2015 Junction MAE Exhibition

"The class recognizes that this is the kind of physically-crafted metaphor linking personal history to art-making that whispers in all of our ears: remember, don’t leave yourself behind.”

MAEs Liz Reyes, Sarah Hartman, and Ana Harvey

I checked out the Texas Tech MAE (Masters of Art Education) exhibition at the Satellite Gallery on LHUCA campus this August First Friday. I always enjoy seeing what these students are up to. They are one of my secret weapons for how-to-craft-the-foundations-program at Texas Tech because most of them are seasoned teachers working in K-12 classrooms. They are experts in information that bridges primary and secondary levels to the first-year college experience. Not to mention, they know the best college art student hopefuls and if I am lucky, they send them my way!

Working with MAEs in past summers, I have watched students get in-depth on integrating their unique life experiences into their art making. It is tricky to balance autobiographical inspiration with research and craft, but these students know, due in part to mentoring by professors Ed Check and Future Akins, that strong work does not happen if you leave yourself behind when you step into the studio. Not a bad reminder for my own studio practice: don’t leave yourself behind.

The “2015 Junction MAE Exhibition” showcases the work of six Texas Tech University School of Art graduate students who participated in intensive seminars and studio classes in Junction, TX, completing their Masters in Art Education degrees this summer. It features a diverse range of mediums and styles, including yarn installation works by Sarah Hartman, work from Ana Harvey’s MAE project on the integration of art across disciplines, mixed media prints by Anika Blanco based on her experiences as a teacher in San Antonio and Del Rio, TX, a selection of Rick Kincheloe’s fired clay sculptures inspired by architecture and music, mixed media works by Germain Quintanilla that combine childhood photographs and graffiti, and a film by Liz Reyes that highlights the intermingling of her personal relationships and her practice of long-distance running.

2015 Junction MAE Exhibition: Sarah Hartman

2015 Junction MAE Exhibition: Liz Reyes

I have taught and worked with several of the 2015 MAE candidates while teaching on the Junction campus, most recently conducting a Solar-Powered Painting Workshop for the first 2015 session in Junction, TX. The class I worked with was “Story Telling in the Arts”, taught by Future Akins. Participants were in-residence at the Junction campus from across Texas: Dallas, Victoria, Lubbock and more. For my workshop, we focused on large fabric cyanotype compositions. These students (all artist-teachers) picked up on the method quickly. After a couple of group prints, they were off working independently, experimenting with their own fabric, methods, and imagery, bringing themselves to the process.

2015 Junction MAE Exhibition: Germain Quintanilla

A huge bonus to conducting a workshop at Junction is the overlap with the other classes – Hot Glass, Metals, and Ceramics. After 3:00 pm, our Solar-Powered Painting work was done, leaving plenty of time to wander over to watch glass blowing, ceramics, or metals. The glass blowing pad cranked out tunes. Careful choreography ensued as students stepped from the bench to the oven, gathering glass and heating up the vessel they are working on. This group worked late into the night, and as the sun goes down the open-air concrete slab became a small stage that glowed in the dark. Students and teachers from other art and science classes gathered, becoming spectators.

Back to the classroom with “Story Telling in the Arts.” One of many readings was “Strange Material: Storytelling through Textiles” by Leanne Prain. Chapters are “Textile of Protest,” “Politics and Power,” and “The Stories We Wear,” introducing us to dynamic artists who take craft to a new level, showing us how to follow tradition while staking out our own methods. Future Akins had students read artist biographies about narrative works of art and passed out assignments that got students working out their own stories. They tried to find connections between their stories and the methods and compositions they are drawn to in their studio works. The connections are there. We spent time teasing them out. One student focused on emotional survival. Her compositions are built with superb skill and then destroyed, left as shadows of themselves, with traces of perfection surviving their violent destruction. When this student talked about her work, the class recognizes that this is the kind of physically-crafted metaphor linking personal history to art-making that whispers in all of our ears “remember, don’t leave yourself behind.”

Editor’s Note: The MAE program at Junction is transitioning from Junction to Fredericksburg, Texas. For more about this, as well as the MAE program at TTU, click here.

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