Faculty Exhibition Artist Talk offers insight into professor's work

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Lawrence McFarland, photography professor in the College of Fine Arts at UT, stands in front of his work. The gallery, which is being featured in the Department of Art and Art History Faculty Exhibition, includes his images from the American West and parts of Italy.

Photo Credit: Kiersten Holms | Daily Texan Staff

When college art students see the work of a professor on display, the effect can be similar to seeing a high school teacher outside their classroom. It’s a little strange. But for the art students, their professors’ work becomes a real life example of the processes and techniques they are taught in the classroom.

On Dec. 1, the Visual Arts Center will host an Artist Talk to learn a little more about the motivation and ideas behind the work of six of the ten faculty members whose art is currently on display in the Mezzanine Gallery. The talk is from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and is free to all.

“It’s kind of weird to see your professors’ work because in class you view them as your superior,” studio art sophomore Abby Clinton said. “It’s strange to see them in a vulnerable position and to look at their work [and see them] as an artist rather than as a professor.”

Clinton, who attended the grand opening of the faculty exhibit, has only taken a course from one of the professors whose work is on display, but said seeing all the faculty art made her excited for some classes and scared for others.

“I would really like to hear from professors I haven’t had yet have to say about their work,” Clinton said. “I think it would be a great opportunity to get an idea of what their classes are like and what they value in art.”

The event will be moderated by interim department chair Lee Chesney, who has some of his own printmaking on exhibit. He noted it would be a good opportunity for those skeptical of the value of the arts to hear faculty perspective and see what they are creating.

“They will be talking about ideas behind their work. That’s mostly what the faculty like to talk about,” Chesney said. “What it is you’re trying to say, how can you make it more meaningful and articulate it better visually — those are the issues that drive the faculty in their own work and what they will talk about.”

There are ten faculty members with work on display, and six have volunteered to discuss their work. There is no overarching theme to the exhibit, but there are themes to some of the individual artists’ collections.

Photography professor Lawrence McFarland has photographs of the American West on exhibit from sites of historical value between the period of 1804-1890. He said he is looking forward to taking questions and talking about the motivations behind his work.

“I’ve been going to historic sights where important events happened to see how that affects culture today,” McFarland said. “Sometimes it really affects people. Sometimes there’s nothing there.”

While the talk will be specifically valuable to art students, anyone inclined to learn more about the art school faculty and their work can attend.

“You can get an understanding of what the commitment is to be a professional artist,” McFarland said. “The opportunity to meet, see and listen firsthand is a rare opportunity.”

Printed on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 as: Art exhibit offers look at professors' work