Introducing My Barbarian

April 4, 2016

Stephanie Sandoval

Tags: My Barbarian / Artist-in-Residence

The VAC is proud to welcome Sound + Vision Artist in Residence, My Barbarian, for a weeklong residency beginning April 4.

Founded in Los Angeles in 2000, My Barbarian is an artist collective consisting of Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon and Alexandro Segade. The group’s performance, video, music and installation projects use fantasy, humor, camp and clashing aesthetic sensibilities to playfully reenact social and historical situations. They have presented their work nationally and internationally, in solo exhibitions at Museo El Eco (Mexico City); the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles); and Participant Inc. (New York) and in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, 2010 Baltic Triennial, Performa 05 and 07.

My Barbarian will employ their pedagogical model known as the Post-Living Ante-Action Theater (PoLAAT) through a weeklong workshop with students and participants. The final performance will take place on Friday, April 8, during FuseBox Festival where the audience will witness new techniques in group building, cultural exchange, and political critique through an imaginative reenactment.

PoLAAT is a five-stage pedagogical model developed in 2008 by My Barbarian that consists of: Estrangement, Indistinction, Suspension of Beliefs, Mandate to Participate and Inspirational Critique. The PoLAAT workshop will teach participants how to adapt PoLAAT to their own artistic practices and other purposes.


 Screenshot of My Barbarian video, people sitting in circle
PoLATT – Private Performance for a Public Group

Play video in separate tab


Be sure to check out the following events and learn more about My Barbarian.

Monday, April 4 – Saturday, April 9

My Barbarian in Conversation with Dr. Cherise Smith, director of the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies
Moderated by Ariel Evans, editor of Pastelegram
Wednesday, April 6, 6–7:30 p.m.
UT Campus, Gordon-White Building (GWB) 2.206, 210 West 24th Street

My Barbarian: Pre-Apocalyptic Jam Band Dance Soiree (PoLAAT)
Friday, April 8, 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. (lasting 25 minutes)
Fusebox Festival Hub, Saengerrunde Hall, 315 E. 17th St. 78701 

Meet the artist: Nancy La Rosa

March 31, 2016

VAC Hornraiser

Tags: Moving Mountains: Extractive Landscapes of Peru / Nancy La Rosa


woman with pony tail stands in front of white wall
Image courtesy of the artist.

Born in Lima in 1980, Nancy La Rosa received a B.A. in printmaking from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and is currently an M.A. candidate in visual anthropology at the same university. In 2008, she won the second prize in the contest “Passport for an artist” organized by the French Embassy in Peru, considered a launchpad to a professional artistic career in the country. La Rosa’s works in diverse media—drawing, print, photography, video, and installation—have been shown in venues in Peru and Latin America, including Medellín, Colombia, Trinidad, Bolivia, and Caracas, Venezuela. She has had three solo shows: Trampa ante ojo in ARCO, Madrid (2014);
Manifestaciones de una lejanía, 80m2–Livia Benavides Gallery, Lima (2012); and Datos Insuficientes, 80m2 art&debate Gallery, Lima (2009). She has also participated in multiple residencies and site-specific projects.

Together with the artist Juan Salas and independent curator Miguel López, she has co-founded and directs publishing series Encuentros Cercanos that disseminates visuals projects and critical texts by contemporary artists in a simple, low-cost design. Her works are in the collection of the Museum of Art of Lima, LARA Collection, and numerous private collections. She is represented by 80m2–Livia Benavides Gallery in Lima.

She will present work at the Visual Arts Center in fall 2016 in the exhibition Moving Mountains: Extractive Landscapes of Peru. Contribute to the Hornraiser and support the exhibition.

Meet the artist: Edi Hirose

man stands on rocks
Image courtesy of the artist.

Edi Hirose was born in 1975 in Lima, to a Japanese-descendant family. In 1996 he graduated from the Instituto Antonio Gaudí in Lima, the first postsecondary school of professional photography in Peru. He has had ten solo or two-person exhibitions and participated in numerous group shows in Peru, Latin America, and Europe. Notably, his work was highlighted in solo presentations at 2013 Istanbul Biennial and 2012 Sao Paulo Biennial. His recent solo exhibition, Intervención MALI, at the Museum of Art of Lima (September 9, 2015–January 31, 2016) comprised of a series of photographs taken over the course of seven years, between 2008 and 2015, during the process of a complete gutting, remodeling, and reinstallation of the collection in the Museum’s building.

Hirose’s works are in the collections of the Museum of Art of Lima, Museum of Modern Art in New York, Société Générale in Paris, and many private collections in Peru and beyond. His photographs have also been featured in multiple print and online publications; recently, in The World Atlas of Street Photography edited by Jackie Higgins, with a foreword by Max Kozloff (London: Thames & Hudson, 2014). He is represented by Lucía de la Puente Gallery in Lima.

Hirose will present work at the Visual Arts Center in fall 2016 in the exhibition Moving Mountains: Extractive Landscapes of Peru. Contribute to the Hornraiser and support the exhibition.

Meet the artist: Tania Mouraud

March 31, 2016

VAC Hornraiser

Tags: Hornraiser / Tania Mouraud: Regards / meet the artist

woman in black blazer and glasses smiles at camera.
Image courtesy of the artist.

Tania Mouraud is a French artist.

Since the 1960s Tania Mouraud has created works that intertwine the conceptual and sensual while exploring relationships between art and society. She has exhibited widely, with solo shows at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, PS1 in New York, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and many others. Having just closed a multi-city retrospective exhibition based at the Centre Pompidou-Metz, Mouraud is an established artist who continues to produce new and experimental works in video, sound, installation and photography.

She will present work at the Visual Arts Center in fall 2016 in the exhibition Regards. Contribute to the Hornraiser and support the exhibition.

Staff Spotlight: Xochi Solis

March 31, 2016

Stephanie Sandoval

Tags: Staff Spotlight

Headshot of Xochi
Xochi Solis

As the Director of Events and Public Programming at the Visual Arts Center, as well as a practicing studio artist, Xochi Solis is no stranger to balancing her craft with her career. Adding to our Staff Spotlight series, we sat down and spoke with Xochi to get a closer look at a typical day in the office and what the Visual Arts Center means to her as both a facilitator and organizer for students and artists alike.


Visual Arts Center: What are your usual tasks as the Director of Events & Public Programming at the Visual Arts Center?
Xochi Solis: In my role, I create and curate the programming that we do alongside the exhibitions on view. I also collaborate with our artists on programming ideas that they have. Some artists that have projects on view might want to do something that’s more event based and inside the gallery and so I help coordinate and manage those events. I also am the event planner and manager so I do all the opening receptions and any auxiliary based programming that is housed within the VAC—so, party planning. I like to think that I do all the fun stuff and the stuff that is super dynamic and engaging for our visitors. I also work alongside Emily Kelly who is our Educational Outreach Coordinator. Our work together is all about engaging people in our space by telling a little bit more of the story, make the exhibitions come alive, and help visitors access more information about the work on view and our center, in general, as part of the Department of Art and Art History.

VAC: What are some public programming events you have helped coordinate?
XS: We just had our Arts in Practice lecture series with Pablo Helguera. That was an independent series exploring the practical career paths of people in the Contemporary Art industry. Sound + Vision is our experimental sound, music, and performance series. For that series we work and collaborate directly with artists to bring to Austin a really specific time based body of work. Last year we worked with deaf-sound artist, Christine Sun Kim. We did a final performance but had a lot of activities in and out of the gallery. This year we are working with My Barbarian, which is a performance collective. They’ll be doing a series of workshops and a final performance after spending a week with us on campus.

VAC: You’re also an alumna from the Studio Art program. How has this experience as a university student translated into the work you do now on campus?
XS: Having access to such a large university gives you amazing faculty resources in all sorts of disciplines which enriches any artist as being able to have some sort of exposure to something other than art, so that was fantastic. But, when thinking about crafting programming for the VAC, it wasn’t so much about, ‘what are we lacking’? It was more about mirroring some of the experiences that we had as individuals and in our personal interdisciplinary approach to art-making and how we can present a platform for other students, artists and art historians to be able to reap the rewards of what we saw from the best of our experiences.

VAC: What do you like most about your job?
XS: I love being able to work with artists in the facilitator role. I think that is really exciting. I have gained so many friends in the art world because, as an artist myself that has a rich studio practice outside of my time in the office, I think having these conversations for my own personal and professional development has really been valuable to me. Also, through my experiences as an administrator and facilitator for these kinds of projects, it has given me the ability to best understand how to manage things in my own professional, personal, and studio practice because I’m learning how to manage a budget, how to organize a timeline, and what that structure looks like.

VAC: What would you say are the more challenging aspects of your job?
XS: The University of Texas at Austin is very large. There are a lot of students and that’s part of the wonder about it all. But with that intensity and that overwhelming amount of people and information to make a system run, there are a lot of rules, forms to fill out, and all kinds of accounting situations. So, especially in the art world, when thinking about how to stay fluid and flexible as the creative process runs its course, you also have to think of how to keep your foot in the bureaucracy. We call it the ‘orange tape’ of the university, specifically, and how we can manage that and keep the creativity flowing so it doesn’t have to hinder that creative process.

VAC: What is/are the most valuable things you’ve learned from working at the VAC?
XS: I think that exercising the holistic view of what an artistic practice is from the beginning inkling of ideas all the way to fruition has provided me an amazing catalogue of experiences. I feel like just when I thought I saw a process or idea occur, there’s always something new to be learned. I think that working at the VAC has provided me with the continuous curiosity and the openness that there are a lot of possibilities, ideas, and new research happening.

Art History Ph.D. candidates bring international and environmentally engaged exhibitions to the VAC

two woman look at each other in front of white wall
Left: Dorota Biczel, right: Allison Myers. Photo by Madison Brill.

In the offices of the Visual Arts Center (VAC), we fast forward to fall 2016 where Ph.D. candidates in Art History Dorota Biczel and Allison Myers are curating exhibitions. Both ambitious exhibitions will bring international artists to Austin, and Biczel and Myers have launched a fundraising campaign to raise $15,000.

“I think Austin is a very particular place,” said Biczel. “With its focus on creative industries and new, digital entrepreneurship, it’s quite far removed from the land, regardless of how much we enjoy its glorious outdoors. I hope that our exhibitions can serve as a reminder of Austin’s grounding in the larger Texas environment beyond the city limits and how important the land is to our collective wellbeing.”

Biczel, whose dissertation focuses on artists in Lima during the 70s and 80s, will bring artists Edi Hirose and Nancy La Rosa for an exhibition entitled Moving Mountains: Extractive Landscapes of Peru. The exhibition will draw attention to current environmental issues and how people reshape their landscapes. In a similar vein, Myers, whose research chronicles the reception of French art in the US during the 70s, will bring French artist Tania Mouraud for a solo exhibition entitled Regards. While in Texas, Mouraud will visit oil refineries and nuclear power plants across the state to gather material for her new work in the VAC.

man sits in dark gallery in front of three large film projections
Tania Mouraud, Ad Nauseam, 2012–2014, videos HD 2910, three channel installation and 29 loudspeakers, broadcast program for randomized sound ©Ircam, camera, montage and production video © Tania Mouraud, sound composition © Tania Mouraud, sound program © Ircam, photo ©Tania Mouraud.

“Much of Tania’s recent work has focused on the relationship between human activity and the natural world,” Myers described. “I wanted to commission a new Texas-based video installation from Tania, and she chose to approach it through the lens of Texas' investment in the energy industry. Tania's video and sound installations put viewers in direct contact with sites that are normally closed to the public, like refineries, paper mills and recycling centers. Her works emphasize the sensory experience of these places, so they connect with viewers on a visceral level. This connection helps to raise consciousness about humanity’s impact on the environment.”

Myers spend her childhood in a rural town outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma and went to Webster University in St. Louis. The open curriculum at Webster allowed her to focus on classes in art history, studio art and philosophy.

“I became interested in the process of writing histories about art, and the cultural and social forces that shape the way these histories are written,” said Myers. This curiosity brought her to UT Austin for a Ph.D. in Art History.

Biczel pursued studio art, working in primarily in printmaking, and attended the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts for her undergraduate degree. She moved to the U.S. in 2002 and began writing art criticism while running a small print studio in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Writing led her to completing dual degrees in Art History, Theory and Criticism and Arts Administration and Policy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

“When I finished, I realized I wasn’t done at all,” Biczel said. “It was clear to me that there was so much more work that needed to be done, which lead me to pursue a Ph.D.”

sandy landscape with bulldozers in background.
Edi Hirose, from the series Jicamarca, 2013–2015, digital photography printed on paper. Image courtesy of the artist.

As both Biczel and Myers complete their dissertations, they are steadfastly planning exhibitions and are embarking upon a campaign to raise the money needed to bring their international artists to Austin.

“We’re incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to curate exhibitions with the support of the department behind us,” says Myers. “For me, it’s key that we have a lot of freedom to propose exhibitions and develop them while still having a supportive framework that helps us learn as we go. And any job in the arts is probably going to require fundraising at some time, so it’s great to be getting this experience now.”

Their fundraiser launches March 23 on Hornraiser, the university’s official crowdfunding platform. Biczel and Myers hope to raise $15,000 that will contribute to the transportation of artworks from and back to Lima and Paris, travel costs for the artist to be present at the exhibition openings and interact with students, framing, the construction of a video-projection room in the VAC, and production costs for Mouraud's new video commission.

“It’s exhilarating to be able to present some of the artists whom I admire to the arts community and general public at the VAC,” says Biczel. “I really believe that contemporary art can touch and affect anyone, regardless of age and education.”

Contribute to the fundraiser!

Moving Mountains: Extractive Landscapes of Peru and Tania Mouraud: Regards will open September 23, 2016 at the Visual Arts Center.

Explore UT Recap

March 11, 2016

Stephanie Nordlund

Thanks everyone for joining us for Explore UT! We had well over 1,000 visitors, and we’re so glad to share our new exhibition, Now's the Time, with you guys! We had three different activities to supplement the art: art-making in the courtyard, an exciting scavenger hunt, and post-it note prompts.


students stand around a table layering various papers
Art-making: Layering to make collages!

students writing on table and walking around the galleries
Explore UT visitors fill out the scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunt filled out is held in front of gallery space
Scavenger hunt complete!

Post-it notes next to painting
Visitors responded to post-it prompts next to artworks

Post-it notes on a wall

Close-up of responses to a painting


Thanks to everyone who joined us, and we can't wait for next year!

Senior Show: Behind-the-Scenes

March 2, 2016

Stephanie Nordlund

Tags: Senior Show / Behind-the-scenes

We’re so excited for the opening of Now’s the Time..., the senior exhibition put on by Teresa Hubbard’s Senior Seminar class. This exhibition, part of the seminar’s curricula, has been organized to teach students the process behind-the-scenes of exhibition management. Graduating seniors submitted their work through an online application, and from there, Jeff Williams and Teresa Hubbard preselected works for the class to curate for the 2016 Senior Art Exhibition. From conception to curation, installation and visualization of the opening reception, the class has been involved in all stages of the exhibition. Don’t forget to come to the opening Friday, March 4, 6–8 p.m.


students raise hands to vote on artwork
Voting selection process in action

students walking around a gallery looking at art
Examining artworks

three students carry photos
Groups working together to place artworks

student drilling wall
Drilling nails to prepare to hang a painting

Marc kneels to write artwork's measurements

Marc Silva helping out with install


See you on Friday!

Staff Spotlight: Jade Walker

February 10, 2016

Stephanie Nordlund

Tags: Staff Spotlight

Jade sitting on a bed that was part of Charles Atlas's Cowboy Body
Jade Walker sits on the bed in Charles Atlas's Cowboy Body

Building on our Staff Spotlight series, we decided to get the behind-the-scenes scoop on Director Jade Walker!


Visual Arts Center: What do you like most about your job?

Jade Walker: I like seeing the growth of students in our department. Vlad, a student who worked with us, is a perfect example. He started as a freshman as one of our VAC work-study students, stayed with us the entire four years he was here. He helped shape the way students are involved with artists at the VAC. He is a working artist now and an active part of the Austin visual arts community, so I love that.

VAC: What is the most important thing you have learned in the last five years?
JW: I’ve learned to appreciate every individual’s contributions. I don’t know if I’ve learned that or maybe I’ve just rediscovered how important individual contributions are to a larger mission.

VAC: What does a typical day look like for you?
JW: I come in and do a 20-minute email check-in, and I flag everything that needs more attention. Then I typically have one to three meetings, but I try to never have more than three. After three..I am not as productive! Some of these meetings are internal while others are for upcoming exhibitions and collaborative projects. We have an Underwriter’s Circle membership program so I’m often spending time with these folks, sharing present programs or upcoming projects. At the end of the day, I catch up on my e-mail and regroup for the next day. Regularly I am out seeing exhibitions and doing visits with artists as well. These are the fun days!

VAC: What would people never guess you do in your role?
JW: I clean out our office refrigerator pretty regularly.

VAC: Before working at the VAC, what was the most unusual or interesting job you've ever had?
JW: One of my first jobs as a teenager was at a really awesome vintage shop in Tampa, Florida (where I’m from). My interview consisted of reorganizing a huge pile of clothes on wire hangers in the span of an hour. I color coded the rack and had the job for the next five years. I loved helping the owner purchase clothes and do store front windows.

VAC: What drew you to the VAC originally?
JW: Well, I was actually the director of the Creative Research Lab (CRL) before the VAC was created. I earned my M.F.A. in the Department of Art and Art History, which I think helped in my role to shape what the VAC is now. I can remember making big sculptures that didn’t fit in to the tiny spaces that we had at the CRL for example and also wanting more interaction with working artists. What attracted me to the idea of being the director of the CRL and now the VAC was the opportunity to shape the gallery to really benefit the students coming through our programs.

VAC: What has been your favorite exhibition at the VAC?
JW: I really loved Michael Sieben’s project in the vaulted gallery. However, Step Right In, a group exhibition that Ariel Evans curated, was a really important exhibition for the evolution of the VAC. This was an ambitious exhibition and a growing experience for both the curator and our team. The end result was a very thoughtful group exhibition.


VAC: What are your hopes for visual art in the world?
JW: That the door of accessibility is widened and that visual arts can be appreciated and created by a wider demographic.


VAC: What are three career lessons you’ve learned thus far?
JW: Number one is structuring my days and being realistic about the time I have. A newer development for me is graciously saying “no,” and doing it because it’ll keep me invested in the other things that I have committed to working on. That is something that I have a hard time with, but I practice on a regular basis. Number two is really putting trust into my team. It has been important to the development of programs in all the institutions I have worked in to promote autonomy, creative license and instill confidence in my staff and co-workers. Lastly, I have learned that the art world is small, so being professional and generous at all times is a must.

VAC: What advice would you give to new people entering the visual arts?
JW: My advice would be to seek out every single opportunity that you can realistically manage. Work hard and stay focused.

VAC: What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have outside of work?
JW: I’m a sculptor, so that’s probably my first passion. I enjoy making clothes for my children and myself. I have two amazing little boys that have now taken on martial arts, so I’m learning about martial arts and comic book characters, which I haven’t had much interest in before. I also love yoga, and I’m a three-day-a-week runner. I am a passionate fiction reader.

VAC: If given a chance, who would you like to be for a day?
JW: I would like to work in my studio as a 90 year old Louise Bourgeois or to have been my great aunt, whose name was Lovina, in her 50s when she overcame really big obstacles that dealt with losing mobility and being a sole-proprietor.

VAC: Who's your favorite artist and why?
JW: There are tons of artists whose work I respect and spent lots of time thinking about but I do not have a favorite. Recently I have spent lots of time looking at the work of Judith Scott.

VAC: If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
JW: My husband makes this meal (AKA salmon and rice) which I love. It’s salmon topped with a miso/vinegar sauce and green tea served with seaweed and asparagus.

VAC: Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
JW: There was a chunk of time when I was in undergrad that I really loved country music and would go out country line dancing. In Florida, there is less two-stepping but lots of line dancing!

Recaping Family Day

December 14, 2015

Stephanie Nordlund

Tags: Strange Pilgrims

We’re so excited to share some photos from last month’s Family Day! This fall, the VAC partnered with an undergraduate Art Education class to create and plan events for the family day. Over the course of the semester, the students were introduced to the work in Strange Pilgrims, learned about gallery teaching methods, experienced teaching in the galleries, and created/taught activities for Family Day.

two photos of students soundscaping with families

Elysium Gonzalez and Abi Hernandezz taught soundscaping inspired by Paul Sharits's Dream Displacement. The activity invited families to create noises based on images they were shown to create a collaborative soundscape.


Two photos. One of a student showing Ayse's artwork and one of screenprints

Gingi Statman, Hannah Fipp-Rosenfield and Meredith Kelly taught screen printing inspired by Ayse Erkmen's 3DN. Like Ayse, the group used Austin symbols such as a guitar to invite visitors to screen print on paper and bandanas.



Two photos of students layering construction paper to create art

Giselle Gutierrez, Juliet Carrillo and Chelsea Freestone layered papers with families inspired by 4pm on a Sunday by Trisha Baga.


two photos of students and children creating spirographs

Aidan Kessler and Danielle Gines created spirographs thinking about the repetition used in Charles Atlas's Tornado Warning.


two photos of students quilling

Hannah Luse, Lizah Vaillancourt and Ariela Lechtman Fachler quilled with families thinking of Sofia Taboas's Floral Start at a Circular Time I.