A Ground to Stand, A Place to Call brings works from the first year MFA cohort - Sarah Chess, Gabrielle Constantine, Alex Freyre, Rowan Howe, and Jennifer Teresa Villanueva - into a conversation of blurred identities and spaces in limbo. These artists obscure, muddle and occasionally reveal the complexities of our relationship with land, memory, and the passage of time. Through mark making and the rendering of imagery through light and dark, the work examines reality vs. abstraction to reveal imagery that is thinly spread between being available/ inaccessible, complete/disassembled, and transparent/opaque. Though vastly different in their material approach, each artist finds commonality in their quest to pin down what lies between.
For Gabrielle Constantine, this displacement is outlined within her sculptural work of her relationship with her diasporic background and growing up in the restaurant industry. Through paintings of the female figure and veiled landscapes, Rowan Howe centers around memory and the sexualized self. Alex Freyre uses virtual reality, with the participation of the audience, to create unique real-time experiences in a simulated computerized environment. With her environmental portraits, Jennifer Teresa Villanueva documents the flux of her family’s domestic life. Sarah Chess interrogates the production of labor and ritual by illustrating optical illusions and pixelation imagery.
Sarah Chess is an artist from San Francisco and is currently pursuing her MFA at UT Austin. Sarah creates drawings that are created from structures embedded within a system of logic that is derived from optical illusions and the pixilation of imagery Her work investigates the production of labor, devotion, and ritual as it relates to drawing the same mark repeatedly on surfaces. She pushes the drawing utensil to its limit, combining discrete individual components together to create a layered and deep surface that extends beyond the page.
Gabrielle Constantine is an artist born in Philadelphia currently living and working in Austin, TX. Having grown up in an Armenian community and the restaurant industry, Constantine draws from displaced communities reestablishing culture in America. Her practice dwells just as much in the kitchen as it does in the studio and is constantly brainstorming ways to overlap food and art. Constantine is invested in collaboration in order to highlight people's stories, recipes, traditions, spaces, and customs all through making.
Alex Freyre Cuza (born 1992) is a Cuban visual artist currently pursuing an MFA at the University of Texas at Austin. Freyre creates dialogues about self-awareness phenomena, and communicates through the transference of experiences using digital technologies as a device of artistic expression. He invites the viewer to experience and connect with another subjectivity, body, experiential circumstance, another time or space using Virtual Reality.
Rowan Howe (b.1997) is a visual artist raised in Chicago, IL currently pursuing a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Texas at Austin. Through imagery of young women, discarded items, and shrouded landscapes her work focuses on the sexualized self through both popular media and lived experiences. The unsettling subjects aim to capture the awkwardness of identity formation, and unearth the apprehension between true emotion and glorified memory.
Jennifer Teresa Villanueva is a Mexican-American photographer based between Chicago, IL and Austin, TX. Her photographic work focuses on her grandmother’s recovery from hospitalizations and journey of living with dialysis due to her Chronic Kidney Disease. Villanueva also researches, writes, and documents the history and everyday lived experiences of her parents’ migration and labor in the United States. Villanueva graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2020) and is an MFA Candidate at the University of Texas at Austin (2023).