Archive for the ‘ Spotlight ’ Category

In the In-Between Interviews Two SOA Alumni in May

Quite by accident, it would seem, In the In-Between: journal of digital imaging artists, an online blog run by Greg Jones, has interviewed two School of Art alumni this month.

"Mountain (W….f$)," from the series, Bit Rot. © Kalee Appleton

“Mountain (W….f$),” from the series, Bit Rot. © Kalee Appleton

Kalee Appleton, who has a 2005 BFA in photography and is currently working on an MFA at Texas Women’s University in Denton, had an interview about her current work posted on May 15th.  Click to read “Kalee Appleton and the Digital Synthetic.”


"Counterweight/03," from the series, Counterweight. © Zach Nader

“Counterweight/03,” from the series, Counterweight. © Zach Nader

Zach Nader, who has a 2011 MFA in photography and is currently living and working as an artist in Brooklyn, had his interview posted yesterday.  Click to read “Zach Nader and the Hacked Vernacular.”

Congratulations to both of them on their continued art practices.

The Gift of Time

Old trooper, I see your child’s red crayon pass,
bleeding deletions on the galleys you hold
under your throbbing magnifying glass,
that worn arena, where the whirling sand
and broken-hearted lions lick your hand
refined by bile as yellow as a lump of gold.

                                    –Robert Lowell, from “For George Santayana”


Day 1

At the suggestion of a local farmer, and after some deliberation, we took a back road and then no road at all, climbing over a cratered field of scrub into RAiR’s backyard. One of the residents came out fuming. “Turn around! Turn around!” He gestured toward a driveway that had been all but invisible beforehand. Rattled, Joe and I swung back—inched back, I should say—to the proper entrance. “A grand first impression,” Joe sighed.

We met Ryder Richards in front of his apartment and studio, a dun-colored affair with a slant silver roof that glared. All the other apartments looked much the same, excepting the compound’s meetinghouse whose single spire, in small silver letters, declared RAiR’s motto: The Gift of Time. Ryder showed us into the guest apartment where we would be staying. “There are towels in the bathroom,” he said. “You guys freshen up, then come over to my place for a drink.”

Joe showered first. We had been shed-camping in Madrid the past three days and were sooty for all the fires we had huddled over; too, the coal that blotched the surrounding hills—which we one day hiked—and hung in the air as dust, residual from the town’s old mines. Everything in Madrid seemed dirty, black. At RAiR it was the opposite: the walls were starkly white, the furniture austere. Even the sky was spotless.

Joel Kiser In First Iron Pour at Collin College

On Saturday April 20th, Collin College Sculpture faculty and students successfully poured cast iron for the first time in the history of the Collin College Art Department under the direction of Sculpture Professor Luke Sides and Art Labs Coordinator Joel Kiser (2007 BFA in Sculpture from Texas Tech).  This epic feat was made possible by a dedicated group of sculpture students who worked together to safely pour over 800 lbs. of cast iron.

Joel Kiser feeding the cupola.

Joel Kiser feeding the cupola.

In the weeks leading up to the iron pour, sculpture students diligently collected scrap bathtubs and assisted in the welding of sand pits, while at the same time working on their own molds to be cast. All of the iron poured was actually collected by hand breaking cast iron bathtubs and sinks into small potato chip size pieces to be collected and poured into a homemade cupola furnace, constructed by Kiser.

JOELCommented Kiser, “I have never seen such excitement and dedication from our sculpture students. Usually, we teach techniques and processes that follow the students into their four-year art-making futures. Today, however, we were able to give them a unique life experience, in terms of teamwork and camaraderie, that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives. For me, that is what teaching is all about.”

Texas Monthly gets a redesign by TJ Tucker

spd-portraitTJ Tucker is a Communication Design alumnus who has been Creative Director of Texas Monthly for a while now.

He recently redesigned the entire look of the publication and was interviewed about it in a 2-part series of interviews with Neil Jamieson.  Below find links to the two interviews.

Tour of the Redesign, Part 1.

Tour of the Redesign, Part 2.

Great Times for Zach Nader

Zach Nader (2008 BFA from Baylor University and 2011 MFA from Texas Tech) “comb[s] the current torrent of images… in search of new possibilities of perception.” On Monday, January 28th Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn, New York held the first solo-screening of his video works. Called great times are waiting, the videos, which were compiled over the last three years, feature footage from various television and online advertisements.



Nader’s videos were also recently featured in the group show She Bush at Yaffo 23 in Jerusalem, Israel– a show which “examine[d] human perception of reality in the post-internet era.”

For more on Zach Nader: a Q&A between the artist and Hey, Hot Shot!, and a critique of his ongoing work.

Donna Howell-Sickles Visits Texas Tech


Donna Howell-Sickles was in Lubbock in late January for the opening of a retrospective exhibition of her paintings at the National Ranching Heritage Center. She graduated from Texas Tech’s School of Art in 1972. In the years following, when she had to negotiate being both an artist and a mother, she would regularly begin painting as early as 4:30 in the morning, so that she could get three hours in the studio before the day began. “It sounds heroic,” she said to a group of students during her visit to campus on Friday, “but it wasn’t; it was necessary.”

The students were Studio Art majors enrolled in Tech’s senior seminar course, the focus of which is on professional practices and career development. Donna had these words of advice for them: “You want to go where the buyers go—travel destinations, not big cities. Big cities are where people buy artwork for other people. You want the man and wife on vacation, who say, “Yes!—that is exactly what we need.””

Indeed, it would seem Donna’s career has followed her own advice to a tee; she having had work frequently featured in the galleries of such popular vacation spots as Santa Fe, New Mexico and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

“I try to honor the requests of galleries,” Donna said in response to a student’s question about galleries who ask that a body of work be extended or manipulated, “but I don’t—for instance—go so far as to change the colors of my artwork for a specific decorator or gallery owner. Thankfully, the cowgirl image is still one that speaks to me, as well as to others.”

Cathy McClure’s Playthings

"Alligator" 2009, bronze, 2 1/2 x 3 3/4 x 13 1/2 inches.

"Alligator" 2009, bronze, 2 1/2 x 3 3/4 x 13 1/2 inches.

Plush mechanical toys, that find their way into the studio of Cathy McClure, are stripped of their fluffy faux pelts. Their exposed cheap plastic innards are disassembled and recreated in highly crafted metals such as silver, bronze aluminum.  McClure transforms the mass-produced machine-made toy skeletons to newly handcrafted framework.  The reincarnated toys often maintain their mechanical function. They are able to click, clack and gesticulate.

This work along with Cathy McClure’s other intricate metal projects has earned the artist much recognition and accolades nationally and internationally.  The Texas Tech University School of Art alumna has shown in recognized galleries, museums and entered prominent collections including exhibits in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Paris.  She and her work have been written about and displayed in the well-known art journal for her discipline, MetalSmith Magazine. And in 2010, the New York Times has twice covered her work including in T, the New York Times Style Magazine.

The reclaimed animal toys are but one type of mechanical toy that Cathy McClure repurposes. After receiving her 1995 BFA in jewelry design and metalsmithing at Texas Tech, McClure embarked on her graduate studies at the University of Washington and received her MFA in 1997.  As part of her study at the University of Washington, she started creating metal zoetropes.  McClure revived this popular 19th and early 20th century gizmo with her inventive prowess. Her zoetropes have hundreds of intricately constructed metal pieces that make up the moving frames and attached three-dimensional animated figures.  Cathy McClure is currently working on a new zoetrope. It is a very ambitious construction. Structured like a double Ferris wheel, the new zoetrope is ten and a half feet tall.

Sonia Avila Leads Southwest Airlines Design Team
(5th in a series on Communication Design Alumni)

Sonia Avila (front left) and her Southwest Graphic Design team

Sonia Avila (front left) and her Southwest Graphic Design team (from left to right) John Jones, Quyen Dong, and Trent Duran.

“I’ll never forget how I got into design, “explains Southwest Airlines Graphic Design Team Manager Sonia Avilla (2003 BFA Communication Design) Southwest Airlines Graphic Design team manager. I read an article about design and came to talk to Carla Tedeschi in her then “cave “ office wedged in between restrooms in the architecture building. That was all it took.”

Avilla returned to Lubbock recently to assist Tedeschi, associate professor in Communication Design and the program’s coordinator, by critiquing some student projects and later giving tips to all Communication Design classes on how to land a job in the graphic design field.

She remembered about her SoA days.  “I lived at home and had a job, so going to college wasn’t terribly costly for me, “she flashes a smile. “I was a cartographer- several of us in my family were. I drew maps at first by hand and then later digitally.”

“Critiquing projects this morning reminded me of the old days here — some miserable; some great. I remember the camaraderie though – going out at all hours to eat and talk— struggling to learn in the college atmosphere. I miss some of those moments . . . and some are not design-related!”

That afternoon, Avilla presented “Yummy Work” starting with a simple, large sandwich going on to the meat, hold the mayo, don’t forget the pickle and more. Using the making of a sandwich as analogous to building a successful career, she explained decisions she had made in her own career, relating some triumphs and pitfalls while offering suggestions like 1) research companies – find out their customers and what they really do 2) network—no getting away from design people – look for them 3) tie everything together in your portfolio – letters, cards, leave behinds and 4) look professional – dress and smell appropriately for an interview – no gum!