A graduate of the Department of Theatre and Dance, David Arevalo returns Winship this fall as an assistant professor. A Texas-born, Mexican costume maker, designer, educator and artist, Arevalo’s work straddles the intersections of embodied and cultural knowledge, classical and contemporary techniques of garment making and visual storytelling via material sculpture. Through these practices, he is compelled to explore and showcase the experiences of communities that have found themselves underserved by the American artistic canon. The transformation and elevation of ideas, objects and expectations is central to his practice.
Tell us about the classes you’ll be teaching this year.
I’m excited to start my time here at UT teaching a yearlong sequence in fabric draping, patternmaking, fitting and fabrication with the working title Draping for Live Performance. Working with performers and building character through collaboration and material manipulation is a passion of mine and an experience that is unique to live performance and design. I will also be mentoring graduate students through their own production work as they devise and explore their own best practices for leading teams, collaborating with designers and articulating their point of view as maker artists.
What attracted you to the Department of Theatre and Dance and The University of Texas at Austin?
Coming back to UT and to T&D feels like a homecoming for me. I was born and raised in Texas and first learned to sew and make patterns here in Winship as an undergraduate. When the opportunity to return to this land, community and program became available, it felt like exactly where I was meant to be.
I am captivated by the dedicated and diverse collection of faculty, staff and students who make up the department. Entering this institution as a faculty member of color and being surrounded by so many people who look like me feels incredibly special and something not to be taken for granted.
How did your professional pathway lead to your focus?
I started my career as solely a maker — a person who interprets designs and builds clothing. For a long time, I focused only on the product I was creating, without considering the process that was unique to me. With time, and some energy given to my own voice as a creator through drawing, painting and designing, I now call myself a maker artist. I come to our work as costume technicians today with an understanding that we, as maker artists, have a unique point of view and lived experience that must be acknowledged as we collaborate to build characters and help tell stories. In my practice, I try to strengthen the connection between our point of view as maker artists and the output of our work as collaborators with designers.
What’s something that students and colleagues should know about you?
I am a product of Texas’ “Top 10 Percent Law,” which allowed me automatic admission into UT Austin as a state-funded university. Coming from a family with limited financial resources, as a first-generation college student, and as a product of the public education system from K-12, access to the faculty, resources and opportunities at UT Austin completely changed the trajectory of my life. This lived experience has made the undergraduate population and ensuring access to specialized coursework, especially in our niche fields of theater arts, a priority for me.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not teaching/researching/working?
I love to draw with pencil and paper or on my iPad and create digital content. I also enjoy lace knitting and, when I have time, making clothing for myself.