by Mariane Gutierrez
Beili Liu, First-Year Core Program Director and Professor of Core Program and Studio Art in the Department of Art and Art History, was awarded the Dad’s Association Centennial Teaching Fellowship, which recognizes her exemplary teaching record and dedicated service to first-year students.
The award was established in 1983 by the University of Texas System Board of Regents for faculty members who are actively engaged in the instruction of freshman undergraduates and demonstrate leadership in the core curriculum.
Liu joined the Department of Art & Art History in 2008, and in addition to teaching, she has served as the director of the department’s First-Year Core Program. Launched in fall 2016, the program includes a series of sequential foundational classes that all first-year students in the department take together. The program is meant to both build community across the different majors—Studio Art, Art History and Art Education—as well as serve as a primer in technical proficiencies and conceptual competencies in visual arts.
Aside from directing the First-Year Core Program and teaching Studio Art, Liu is also a widely commissioned and critically acclaimed artist with work addressing themes of diaspora, cultural identity, materiality and labor through large-scale installations and sculptures.
In the past year, Liu has had solo exhibitions at the Crow Museum of Asian Art in Dallas and MadArt Seattle, as well as residencies at the Joan Mitchell Center and The Studio at MASS MoCA. She has earned several awards for her work as a professional artist, including a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant in 2016, and a designation as the Texas State Artist in 3D media by the Texas State Legislature in 2018.
In her Core Studio 3D class, Liu places an emphasis on creating spatial and time-based works and exploring formal principles and conceptual concerns. Her students have the opportunity to become better equipped with the skills needed to understand visual and material language in a three-dimensional space. These concepts came about through Liu’s teaching philosophy that dedicates her career to supporting first-year students, provides an open communication environment, trains them to embrace digital technology and increases awareness of cultural diversity.
In his nomination letter, College of Fine Arts Dean Doug Dempster said Liu’s accomplishments send an important message about the advancement of the university and the Dad’s Association Centennial Teaching Award is exactly the recognition she deserves.
“It’s an enormous testament to professor Liu that in her probationary years on faculty, she taught in the freshmen foundations with uncompromising dedication and discipline,” Dempster said. “To this day, though a full professor, she still is the rare tenured faculty member who teaches in the First-Year Core program.”
Previous Fine Arts faculty who have received the Dad’s Association Award included Byron Almen, Andrea Beckham, Nathaniel Brickens, Frank Candelaria, Andrew Carlson, Robert Carnochan, Marianne Gedigian, Leslie Mutchler, Louis Waldman and Lyn Wiltshire.