Jade Walker

Theater and math senior Ben Matkin assists artist Alyson Shotz in preparation for the Invariant Interval installation Friday afternoon. Shotz’s art piece was shipped from Brooklyn to Austin, where student volunteers can work along side with her.

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

Artist-in-residence Alyson Shotz’s “Invariant Interval” exhibit plays on space in more ways than one.

The artist-in-residence program invites a well-established artist to create a piece of art catered to the UT Visual Arts Center. Shotz, this year’s artist, is known for her minimalistic work featured in notable museums such as the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art. 

It was this minimalistic aesthetic that drew Jade Walker, gallery director of the center, to Shotz’s work. 

“I loved her work in the studio. We haven’t had anyone who builds so minimally,” Walker said. “We wanted to bring in an artist who worked with very ephemeral objects and [was] minimal in terms of the way the work looked but also multiple in the way they built. “

Shotz toured the Visual Arts Center to gauge the space and create a design suited for it. The result is a suspended sculpture made of glass
beaded wires that is connected to create a three-dimensional grid-like structure. 

“This is a work commissioned especially for the [center] and for this space,” exhibit curator C.C. Marsh said. “That means it has never been created before or installed anywhere else. So just hearing her thought process is fascinating because you get to see how a work of art is made from start to finish.“

Shotz drew inspiration from outer space and the use of items of little mass to fill up large spaces. 

“I was interested in experimenting with expandable structure; also looking for new ways to describe space sculpturally,” Shotz said. 

While on campus, she worked with the McDonald Observatory to gain further inspiration from the sky. 

“Usually when we bring in an artist, they come in for a large period of time,” Walker said. “A week of her residency she spent out at the observatory working with the scientist there. And so that was something totally different that we’d never done before.” 

Shotz began creating her piece in her Brooklyn studio. After building its basic design there, she shipped it to Austin where she and student volunteers assembled it. 

“Students are helping to actually build the pieces that you’ll [see] in the gallery. So it’s hands on,” Walker said. “When [Shotz] first got here they were all on the floor together building and beading, and then right now they are actually raising this huge structure that she has built.” 

This student involvement provides an educational opportunity for aspiring artists to see and experience firsthand the work that goes into creating an installation. 

“I went to visit classrooms early this week and introduced them to [Shotz’s] body of work,” Marsh said. “Each day there have been maybe nine opportunities total for people to come in and work with [Shotz] on the piece, so it’s really volunteer basis. It’s a great opportunity for them to work with a well-known artist and assemble something that might be different than their own craft.” 

Shotz has also enjoyed her time working with the student volunteers.

“I’ve found them to be a highly-motivated group, very competent, and helpful and fun to be around,” Shotz said. 

“Invariant Interval” opens Sept. 27 and will run through Dec. 7. For more information, Shotz will give a talk about the exhibit on Sept. 23.

With the click of a button and a desire to unravel his personal intricacies, UT alumnus Colin Doyle contrived a series of five photographs titled “An Inquiry Concerning.”

The AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center Courtyard Gallery, a gallery which exclusively shows work created by faculty and alumni from the College of Fine Arts, is exhibiting “An Inquiry Concerning” at the AT&T EECC until Aug. 31. The exhibition is Doyle’s first solo show. Doyle, a 2010 studio art and Plan II alumnus, said all his photographs are symbols of past experiences and hold personal meaning. However, he said, he is open to the viewer’s interpretation and is interested in the affects the images have on the audience.

“The pictures are all very personal,” Doyle said. “The objects I choose to photograph often stand in for people and events in my life that, like the picture, are difficult, confusing or unresolved. I’m trying to figure them out: assign them some kind of meaning, put them in a little box. Unfortunately, it’s usually not that easy.”

Doyle was nominated for the George H. Mitchell Awards for Academic Excellence in 2011, an award given to students who have made a unique contribution to their fields of study.

The AT&T EECC Courtyard Gallery curator Jade Walker said she was impressed by Doyle’s photography skills. She said his opening reception had one of the biggest turnouts she has seen so far.

“Doyle is well respected in the contemporary arts community here in Austin,” Walker said. “There were gallery directors and a wide range of faculty supporting him.”

Alejandro Sanchez, teaching assistant, said Doyle stood out immediately in former photography classes due to his curiosity, interest and willingness to discover his passion. Sanchez said Doyle was always asking questions and trying to understand how the world is transformed through the lens while demanding the viewer to see things differently.

“His photographs asked me to look at them closely. At the beginning they seemed one-dimensional. But as I started digging deeper I discovered he was purposely forcing me to move from one place to another without being able to collect concrete answers,” Sanchez said. “His work moved me completely.”

Sanchez said Doyle’s photographs are always changing and mutating, constantly drawing in the viewer to see them in a whole new light.

“When I think about ‘An Inquiry Concerning,’ I cannot describe its specific function because new questions appear as I try to understand the gestures, the formal study and the consciousness that invades his process,” Sanchez said.

“An Inquiry Concerning” is free and open to the public until Aug. 31.

The UT Visual Arts Center announced Monday that New York artist Mika Tajima will spend three weeks on campus in the Artist-in-Residence program this semester.

Tajima, who currently lives in New York, manipulates multiple media in her modernist work. Tajima’s sculptures, paintings and other visual creations have been displayed in museums across the U.S., as well as the South London Gallery. Her work with each media is combined to create art installations that surround viewers as they walk through the display.

“You walk in and you’re not really sure if you’re behind the scenes on the set of a play or in another world,” said Calandra Childers, public relations manager for the Seattle Art Museum, where other projects by Tajima have been on display since July. “People have been spending a lot of time in the exhibit and are really excited to see something this different.”

The work Tajima created for the Visual Arts Center, entitled “The Architect’s Garden”, combines sculpture and projected images inspired by UT and the city of Austin. Tajima is scheduled to be at UT from Aug. 30 until Sept. 15, and her work will remain on display on campus throughout the fall semester.

Jade Walker, Visual Arts Center director, said she and other program directors have been interested in bringing Tajima’s work to UT for some time.

Aimee Chang, Manager of Public Programs at the Blanton Museum of Art, is curating the Tajima display at the Visual Arts Center and said she has followed the artist’s work since 2006. Chang said she loves the way Tajima incorporates geometric extraction with physical movement taking place in her created space.

“I’m very interested in spaces that are activated and art that can reach out and interact with people,” Chang said. “A lot of her installations are usually spaces where things happen — spaces that are art in themselves but also serve another activity.”

Chang said Tajima’s focus for “The Architect’s Garden” was to create a space that could also serve as a classroom where learning and conversation could take place. Walker said this focus will become evident through the programs presented by the Visual Arts Center and the Blanton Museum of Art, which will highlight the exhibit and shed light upon Tajima’s inspiration.

Both organizations are sponsoring an “artist talk” Aug. 30 at the Blanton in which Tajima will discuss her display in depth, Walker said.