• September 18, 2020

University turns its eye to new media, photo - Odessa American: UTPB

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Posted: Friday, August 14, 2020 4:38 pm

The University of Texas Permian Basin is turning a lens toward new media and digital photography this fall. 

Amy Kim, director of the Nancy Fyfe Cardozier Gallery and lecturer in art, said the courses are being revived in conjunction with the new Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Scott McKay.

“He does have a plan and a vision for our digital arts program which would include photo, video, graphic design and animation/game design, so it’s just kind of a beginning point …,” Kim said.

She added that she will be teaching the photo portion.

UTPB was planning to hire more design instructors but then COVID-19 hit and everything was put on hold in terms of hiring new people. What has occupied Kim this summer is organizing a new studio classroom where students can shoot in a studio setting with light kits.

“They can do projection design … and investigate new technologies that are used in art nowadays. I don’t think there’s a lot of new media instruction in our region yet, but it’s part of the curriculum in a lot of other schools so it was time to start it and we’re excited about that,” Kim said.

New media, she said, can be a lot of things. It involves videos, video art and projection art, for example. If projection art became a reality at UTPB, Kim said they could project artwork onto Stonehenge’s surface. She said there are artists who create similar work within a gallery space indoors.

“… It’s a different mode of working than just the traditional genre of painting, drawing or print making. It’s using new technology, new software, cameras and even a lot of internet components. Online imagery can be used, or students can … combine those things. …,” Kim said.

Students will be able to combine their skills and create interactive works of art.

“I am really very excited to start these initiatives at UT Permian Basin at our art program,” she added.

The current plan is to meet face to face once a week while maintaining social distancing guidelines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines will be followed and masks required.

“Usually we meet twice a week, so once a week we will do face to face and learn how to use our space and then a lot of the installation you’re telling a story with a space, with a 3-D space. The time we will probably meet remotely using our online platforms …,” she said.

Kim said three of her students, Ashley Hernandez, Mandy Casey and Rubi Chavez have excelled in her photo courses.

Hernandez is an art major whose work was recently juried into the nationally recognized photography exhibition The Curated Fridge (https://www.thecuratedfridge.com). Her work is showcased along mainstream photographic artists in the US. in their summer show.

Hernandez also is the first prize winner in the student category of Insight2020 The Annual Permian Basin Juried Art Exhibition at the Ellen Noel Art Museum.

Casey is an art major and her photograph Harsh Reality was juried into Insight2020 The Annual Permian Basin Juried Art Exhibition at the Ellen Noel.

Chavez is a political science major and her still life entitled Rubi won Best in Show in UTPB’s Spring 2020 Juried Student Exhibition.

The students’ success is quite gratifying, Kim said. She added that she is proud of the students because they had never taken a photo course before and didn’t know how to use a camera with manual controls.

“This was the first time for these three students,” Kim said. “They learned how to use the camera and then how to express their personal vision. There’s a difference between photography as an art form and commercial photography. In the art classes, that’s what we try to focus on — personal expression or expression of ideas; students’ ideas. It could be identities, race/gender identify. It could be another philosophical investigation. It could be an aesthetic investigation, but what I try to do in these classes is foster individual vision as opposed to commercial work,” Kim said.

Once they learn the skills and techniques they can do wedding photography or sports.

“It’s very transferable that way … but in the courses we try to focus on critical thinking, personal vision and in my classes there’s reading. We watch a lot of artist videos and we look at a lot of artwork by artists and I think that is very important to keep exposing the students to just various practices by diverse body of artists,” Kim said.

She added that the classes are open to non-art students as well.

“I think that’s important that it’s open and you don’t need prior experience,” Kim said. “You don’t need a camera. It’s provided. You can bring your own camera … The equipment is provided. … We have lighting kits, cameras, tripods, so they need to buy their own paper but that’s probably the only expense and their storage drive if they want to store the images. But the cameras are provided and the equipment is provided,” Kim said.

Hernandez said this was the first photo course she had taken and she was pretty excited to participate, especially with a new professor.

“It’s so rewarding when you get that email back about your work getting accepted in. For me, I love to submit to as many shows as I can so I can have feedback from outside sources about what I’m doing. Having a broader audience helps with exposure and learning about what works,” Hernandez stated in an email.

Photography is something she is actively pursuing with additional courses like new media this fall. Hernandez stated that she is looking forward to learning more in the future.

“I would love to get my MFA in photography/new media,” she said.

Chavez said she had taken art courses before, but never a photo course so when she saw that UTPB was offering it she signed up for it right away.

“The shows were one of the most interesting part of the course. There were so many different artists that expressed their work in unique ways. This allowed me to self-reflect in what I would call my own niche’ and found myself diving fully into the course and the potential of what I saw in these shows. Being in the show was compelling, if I had any questions, I would call Ms. Kim and she would give me ideas on how to best showcase my work,” Chavez stated in an email.

“Even though I am not an art major, I do believe that I will be taking other photo or media courses in the future. Ms. Kim is an exceptionally talented person and seemed to know what she was doing during my time in the photo course. She was more than happy to introduce us to many other artists and different techniques for the course around campus as well as extended field trips in Midland and Odessa. In taking the course it has also sparked an interest in pursuing my work. I even went out of my way to buy my own camera to continue photography as a hobby,” she added.

Casey had taken photos before, but with her smart phone and had not had any professional direction in the art.

“I was incredibly humbled and surprised to be selected for the show with all the amazing and diverse talent in West Texas,” Casey said.

She added that she will “absolutely pursue photography as a hobby, as I loved taking photographs prior to taking the course. I won’t be taking any more photography courses in relation to my degree, as my current projected graduation is spring 2021. However, I may take courses in the future just to increase my knowledge of photography!”

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