College of Fine Arts News

Butler School of Music Faculty Donates $25,000 To Establish Student Scholarship

Sunday, December 20, 2009

AUSTIN, TexasFaculty in the Butler School of Music at The University of Texas at Austin have donated $25,000 to establish a new endowed scholarship in music.

The initiative was a grassroots effort on the part of the faculty that began in summer 2009, when Sarah and Ernest Butler, in their continued support of the Butler School, announced an initiative to provide matching funds for any scholarship gifts between $25,000 and $50,000 through the end of 2009. Several members of the faculty saw the announcement as an opportunity to help provide much-needed student aid, and began talking with their colleagues about donating to the effort.

The resulting $50,000 endowed scholarship in music, when matched by the Butlers in January 2010, will support undergraduate and graduate students in music.

I am particularly moved by the fact that in a year in which the faculty received no merit raises, they would voluntarily donate funds in an amount sufficient to establish an endowed scholarship, said B. Glenn Chandler, director of the Butler School of Music. This is just another example of the unwavering dedication our faculty have to the education of their students.

The matching funds provided by the Butlers are part of their latest endeavor in what has been nearly 30 years of support of the School of Music, including a $55 million gift in 2008 that resulted in the renaming of the school in their honor. To date, the dollar-for-dollar matching program has resulted in seven new scholarships for music, and Chandler said he anticipates that three additional scholarships in progress will also be matched.

For more information about the Ernest and Sarah Butler School of Music, visit the Web site at


The Trojan Women Reviews

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Department of Theatre and Dance Production Receives Accolades

Produced by the Department of Theatre and Dance, and staged by director Halena Kays, The Trojan Women received a great review by Austin American Statesman arts writer, Jeanne Claire van Ryzin.
Read Jeanne Claire van Ryzin’s review.

Theatre and Dance Alumna Marcia Gay Harden is Commencement Speaker for The University of Texas at Austin's May Ceremony

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tony Award-Winning Actress Addresses Spring Graduates on May 22, 2010

Alumna Marcia Gay HardenAlumna Marcia Gay HardenAUSTIN, Texas Marcia Gay Harden, a University of Texas at Austin graduate who has received an Oscar, a Best Actress Tony Award and numerous other honors throughout her career, will be the speaker for the 127th Spring Commencement at The University of Texas at Austin on May 22, 2010.

Her speech will be presented on the university’s Main Mall in front of the Tower during a festive ceremony that traditionally draws thousands of students, their parents and guests to the campus.

“I’m thrilled and honored to speak to these bright young minds, ready to go out and improve our world,” said Harden. “They are the new philosophers, scientists, artists and economists, and it will be exciting to watch them discover their gifts.”

Harden received her bachelor of arts degree in theatre from The University of Texas at Austin and her master of fine arts degree from the graduate acting program at New York University. She lives in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City with her husband and three children.

“We are very proud of Marcia and the many awards and honors she has earned throughout her very distinguished acting career,” said William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin. “Her amazing ability to transform words on a script into the role of a believable character is truly remarkable, and her tenacious spirit that has brought her this far makes us proud to say she is one of our own.”

Harden’s character portraits have been described by critics as searing, heartbreaking, inventive, pure and profane simultaneously, astonishing, authentic and sensuous. From the glamorous Ava Gardner in “Sinatra,” to the artist Lee Krasner in “Pollock” (for which she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar), to the down and out Cecelia in “Mystic River” (for which she received another Academy Award nomination) Harden has created a signature style based in character transformation. Her versatility and wide range have been praised in such films as “Millers Crossing,” “The First Wives Club,” “Meet Joe Black,” “Mona Lisa Smile,” “The Hoax” and “Used People.”

Harden recently garnered a Best Actress Tony Award for her starring role in the Tony Award-winning Broadway play “God of Carnage.” She received an Outer Circle Critics Award for her performance, as well as nominations from the Drama Desk and Drama League. She was recently nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for her role in “The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler.” Other nominations include a Tony Award nomination for Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America” (for which she won the Drama Desk and Theatre World Awards), an Emmy nomination for her guest appearance on “Law and Order: SVU” and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for “American Gun.”

Kelly Fearing: Selections From A Life in Art Exhibition

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Professor Emeritus Art Exhibition Continues Through January 14, 2010

AUSTIN, Texas The exhibition Kelly Fearing: Selections From A Life in Art provides an introduction to work that visual artist Fearing has created during his long and distinguished career. The exhibition is free and open to the public at The University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Performing Arts, Bass Concert Hall, 5th Floor between the hours of 11am 2pm, Monday through Friday and during performances at Bass Concert Hall.

Guest Curator Mark L. Smith included a few of Fearing’s early works, many mid-career pieces and items fresh from his studio in West Lake Hills, Texas. It is a modest tribute to Fearing’s notable career. His admirers may see some of their favorites here, and viewers discovering his work for the first time will hopefully be inspired to see more by this exceptional artist.

Fearing is a living, national art treasure. An internationally respected artist and art educator, he has conducted the bulk of his career in Austin. A professor emeritus in The University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Art and Art History, he co-authored four, major textbooks in art education while mentoring and inspiring hundreds of art teachers during his 40 year tenure at the university. Fearing has received innumerable awards and has been the subject of many museum exhibitions. He was selected as the Texas Tribute Artist for the 2009 Texas Biennial; in 2008 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Center for the Study of Early Texas Art; in 2007 he received the prestigious E. William Doty Award from the university’s College of Fine Arts; and he was inducted into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame in 2003.

In 2002, the university organized The Mystical World of Kelly Fearing: A Sixty-year Retrospective, co-hosted by the Creative Research Laboratory and Flatbed Press. In 2005, his work was included in the seminal exhibition Texas Modern: The Rediscovery of Early Texas Modernism (1935-1965) at the Martin Museum of Art at Baylor University. This exhibition will reinstalled at the Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi through January 3, 2010. In 2007, his work was included in the landmark exhibition at the Amon Carter Museum, Intimate Modernism: Fort Worth Circle Artists in the 1940s. Fearing’s work has inspired not only countless artists but also writers; in 2009, North Carolina poet Andrea Selch published a book of thirteen poems about his work: Boy Returning Water to the Sea: Koans for Kelly Fearing.

Visual Arts Center in Department of Art and Art History Scheduled for Completion Spring 2010 at The University of Texas at Austin

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Art Building to get a New Entrance and Exhibition Space

The former site of the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art in the Art Building is undergoing major renovation to house a new contemporary art hub, the Visual Arts Center (VAC) in the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin. The newly renovated space, designed by renowned architects Lake | Flato, will house exhibitions, educational instruction and research within the Department of Art and Art History. The construction is scheduled for completion in spring 2010, and the VAC will open its doors for its premier exhibition in September 2010.

Since March 2007, Lake | Flato has been working with the university to create an innovative renovation for the department. The VAC space is a central component of this remodel. It is prominently placed to serve as the hub of creative, academic and social life for visual art students with exhibitions, lectures, symposia, the Maya Meetings at Texas, art related conferences and much more. In addition, there will finally be a prominent entrance to the Art Building, elevating the overall physical look and changing the face of the department’s home.

“This dynamic new facility will draw students, professors, scholars and the public together to explore the visual arts within the department and beyond,” said John Yancey, chair of the Department of Art and Art History. “Graduate students will, for the first time, have premier spaces for research and production. All four divisions (art history, design, studio art and visual arts studies/art education) will share the benefits of this facility.”

When completed, the Visual Arts Center will have a state-of-the-art exhibition venue, along with a new outdoor courtyard for a variety of programming. The new exhibition galleries will present a year-round schedule of exhibitions from faculty, students, alumni and visiting artists. The outdoor courtyard will function as a multi-use space where audiences can view outdoor installation, sculpture, video and time-based art. The entire facility will be available for the campus and larger community to attend exhibitions, events and activities.

“The Visual Arts Center will provide a home from which all department exhibitions, events and activities will flourish,” said Jade Walker, director of the Visual Arts Center and curator of the Courtyard Gallery at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center. “It will not only exist as a departmental exhibition space, but also as one of the leading contemporary arts spaces in Texas.”

Learn more about the Visual Arts Center at

Performing Arts Center Now Texas Performing Arts at The University of Texas at Austin

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New Name Reflects Academic Mission of the College of Fine Arts

Under the new leadership of Director and Associate Dean Kathy Panoff, The University of Texas at Austin Performing Arts Center has a new name: Texas Performing Arts at The University of Texas at Austin.
The change aligns the program with its prevailing academic mission as a College of Fine Arts unit and the strong recognition and tradition associated with the university.

Texas Performing Arts is a more comprehensive representation of the remarkable work our students, faculty and staff do on our stages, in our classrooms, studios and production shops and in the campus and community engagement activities we provide for the Austin community, Panoff said.

In addition to its important academic role at the university, Texas Performing Arts presents significant works of music, theatre, dance and conversation at six venues across the campus, as well as the best in touring Broadway and concert attractions. This breadth of programming is not available anywhere else in Central Texas.
Since Panoff’s arrival, subscriptions for the 2009-2010 Texas Performing Arts season have more than tripled.

We worked very hard, she said, to put together a season of internationally renowned artists, and as the new director I am pleased and honored by the community’s enthusiastic response.

And while Panoff has only recently begun her tenure at Texas Performing Arts, she was able to put her stamp on the upcoming season while dividing her time last semester between Austin and her former directorial position at the University of Richmond’s Modlin Center. Her involvement in personalizing the season includes a role in developing the look and tone of the 2009-2010 season brochure, an effort to develop stronger faculty, student, campus and community involvement in Texas Performing Arts and the addition of Bela Fleck, Zakir Hussain and Edgar Meyer; Robert Crumb and Art Spiegelman: A Conversation hosted by Franoise Mouly; and New Zealand dance company, Black Grace, to the season.

Department of Art and Art History Welcomes Prestigious Professor

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Leonard Lehrer appointed as part-time Visiting Professor in Art

The College of Fine Arts and the Department of Art and Art History have jointly appointed Professor Leonard Lehrer as a part-time Visiting Professor in Art. Professor Lehrer’s appointment will focus on revitalizing the 30 year-old Guest Artist in Printmaking Program (GAPP) and to serve as an advisor at large for various College initiatives including the newly implemented Arts Education initiative of the College of Fine Arts.

Professor Lehrer’s primary responsibility will be to coordinate a new program tentatively titled Printmaking Convergence that will enhance the 30 year-old GAPP and bring national attention to the graduate printmaking program and new Visual Arts Center (VAC) printmaking studio. His main focus will be on developing a program that takes advantage of the wealth of fine art print-related resources at The University of Texas, in the Austin community and across the state and nation. The goal of the program is to promote the art of the print and all of its manifestations across a broad spectrum of art making and scholarship in order to enhance the educational mission of the department. Professor Lehrer will teach one organized course per year and serve as the director of the Printmaking Convergence program.

Knowledge of his retirement from Colombia College in Chicago came to us during the summer months. The fortuitous opportunity to bring an individual of his experience to UT was simply too good to pass up. In addition to the focus on printmaking, his national leadership role in developing arts education policy will benefit the College’s goal of improving high school arts education in the State of Texas.

He comes to Austin after serving from 2000 2007 as Dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts at Columbia College, and most recently as Associate Provost for External Affairs. Previous to this appointment he held positions as chair or director of art departments and art schools at The University of New Mexico, The University of Texas at San Antonio, Arizona State University and New York University. He served on the College Art Association’s committee to establish national guidelines for the M.F.A. and B.F.A degrees; he was also President of the MidAmerica College Art Association.

Professor Lehrer is currently Chair of the College Board’s National Taskforce on Arts Education, a Founding Trustee of the International Print Center New York (IPCNY), Trustee of apexart Gallery, New York, and Trustee of the International Centre for Culture and Management (ICCM), Salzburg, Austria. He recently received the highly prestigious Lifetime Achievement in Printmaking Award by the Southern Graphics Council. Previous winners of this award include Xu Bing, William Wiley, Warrington Colescott and Chuck Close. Professor Lehrer is a painter and printmaker whose work has been seen internationally for several decades. He has had more than 43 solo exhibitions; these include shows in New York City, Philadelphia and extensively throughout the United States, Germany, Austria and Spain including five, one-person museum exhibitions.

Associate Dean for Arts Education Appointed at University of Texas at Austin's College of Fine Arts

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hunter March Appointed to Newly Created Deanship

Hunter March, professor of music education in the Butler School of Music at The University of Texas at Austin, has been appointed associate dean for arts education in the College of Fine Arts, effective Sept. 1.

Statewide and national leadership in arts education research and teaching, with an emphasis on teacher training, is one of four core objectives in the College of Fine Arts mission and strategic plan. The newly created deanship and this appointment reflect the colleges commitment to making fine arts education and teacher training a daily priority.

March has been teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in music education in the Butler School of Music for 31 years, and has been the graduate adviser in the music school for 17 years. He is also author of three music textbooks published by Silver Burdett Ginn, which have been adopted in Texas and are widely used throughout the United States. He has held leadership roles as an officer of the Music Educators National Conference and the Texas Music Educators Association. March has presented workshops for public schools throughout the United States at national, state and regional conferences, and for the Department of Defense Overseas Dependent Schools. He been chair of the Society for General Music and vice president of the Texas Music Educators Association.

Professor March is eminently well-qualified to fill this deanship, said Douglas Dempster, dean of the College of Fine Arts. Arts education is a vital part of the colleges public service to the State of Texas. Arguably, its the most urgent commitment we can make to perpetuating the art forms and disciplines to which the College of Fine Arts is dedicated.

March was inspired by the education reform movement of the 1960s and began his career as an award-winning middle school teacher in the schools of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan. While teaching in the Ann Arbor public schools, his choirs performed for the Music Educators National Conference and with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Detroit Symphony and the University of Michigan choirs. He was recognized as the statewide Music Teacher of the Year and has more recently received The University of Texas at Austins College of Fine Arts Teaching Excellence Award.

I am excited about Dean Dempsters commitment to fine arts education studies and share his vision for The University of Texas at Austins College of Fine Arts becoming a leading national center in fine arts teacher education, said March. Im honored and thrilled to accept this new position and greatly look forward to working with our talented education faculty as we journey toward realizing this magnificent mandate together.

New Research Center in Antigua, Guatemala Expands University of Texas at Austin's Latin American Research

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Department of Art and Art History in the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin has introduced Casa Herrera, a new research, conference and teaching facility in Antigua, Guatemala, that will enable the department to expand its Mesoamerica Center.

“The Casa Herrera is a fabulous, newly renovated, educational facility strategically located in the center of Antigua, Guatemala,” says Provost Steven Leslie. “Its physical location and the excellence of our Department of Art and Art History, whose faculty will lead research and educational programs there, set the stage for The University of Texas at Austin to expand its already very strong programs in Central and Latin America. The Casa Herrera is a place where scholars from Central America and from around the world will come together for Mayan and Mesoamerican studies.”

Led by internationally recognized Mayanist and Art History Professor David Stuart, research at Casa Herrera will focus on the varied disciplines that contribute to the study of Pre-Columbian art, archaeology, history and culture. Its larger mission is to create new opportunities for education and research, aiding learning and dialogue in many fields of study, among scholars and students from multiple institutions and nations in Central America and beyond.

“There’s nothing quite like the Casa Herrera,” says Stuart. “Historically, major research centers focused on Mesoamerica have almost all been in the United States, but now we’re creating an academic institution on-site, where it really belongs. The Casa Herrera will allow scholars and students from the United States and other countries to interact and learn from one another in ways that are so exciting to think about. Guatemala and the whole region have so much to offer for inter-disciplinary studies and experiences, and the potential benefits for the university look boundless.”

The original Casa Herrera was built around 1680, and stands as one of the many architectural jewels of Antigua, the former capital of Guatemala, now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Casa Herrera property was meticulously restored in 2008 under the careful auspices of its owners, the Fundacin Pantalen, which has granted use of the facility to The University of Texas at Austin.

“Casa Herrera allows the university to enlarge its involvement with the region and establish a research and educational anchor in Central America. It provides a singular research facility for Maya scholars and Meso-American researchers from around the world, and at the same time will serve as an educational resource for Guatemala and the region,” says Doug Dempster, dean of the College of Fine Arts. “The College of Fine Arts is indebted to the Fundacin Pantalen and the Herrera family for their vision and for their generosity in joining this research and educational mission with the university.”

Recent Graduate Awarded $50,000 Literary Prize

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Frances YaChu Cowhig, a graduate of the James A. Michener Center for Writers at The University of Texas at Austin, has won the 2009 Keene Prize for Literature for her play titled Lidless, a poetic treatment of the issue of torture at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Keene Prize is one of the world’s largest student literary prizes. Cowhig will receive $50,000 and an additional $50,000 will be divided among three finalists.

Cowhig’s play was chosen out of 58 submissions in drama, poetry and fiction. In the play, a former Guantanamo detainee dying of liver disease journeys to the home of his female interrogator to demand reparation for the damage she wreaked on his body and soul. It recreates the traumatic experience of interrogation and moves toward reconciliation between its protagonists.

“Political without being propagandistic, moving without being sentimental, ‘Lidless’ uses theatrical space, physical bodies and talismanic objects to create a bold imaginative intervention into the debate about torture,” said Elizabeth Butler Cullingford, chair of the Department of English and chair of the award selection committee.

In addition to the Keene Prize “Lidless” has been selected by playwright Sir David Hare as the winner of the 2009 Yale Emerging Playwrights Prize. The play was produced at the university’s Department of Theatre and Dance Lab Theatre as part of the annual production, UT New Theatre (UTNT), last spring and will be given staged readings at Houston’s Alley Theatre, Ojai Playwrights Conference and Yale Repertory Theatre. It will be published by Yale University Press.

“We are all thrilled that Frances has won the coveted Keene Prize as a capstone to her other astonishing achievements this year! She is already changing the landscape of the American Theatre!” said Suzan Zeder, Professor of Playwriting from the Department of Theatre and Dance.

The three finalists include Malachi Black for the collection of sonnets “Cantos from Insomnia” and Sarah Cornwell for her short stories “Mr. Legs,” “Champlain” and “Other Wolves on Other Mountains.” Both are master’s of fine arts candidates at the Michener Center. The other finalist, Sarah Smith, a Michener Center graduate, was selected for her collection of poetry, “Enormous Sleeping Women.”

Established in 2006 in the College of Liberal Arts, the Keene Prize is named after E.L. Keene, a 1942 graduate of the university, who envisioned an award that would enhance and enrich the university’s prestige and reputation in the international market of American writers. The competition is open to all university undergraduate and graduate students, and the prize is awarded annually to the student who creates the most vivid and vital portrayal of the American experience in microcosm. Students submit poetry, plays and fiction or nonfiction prose.