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UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT DALLAS
by Todd Camplin

The University of Texas at Dallas, in Richardson, has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Arts and Technology.  
It is an unusual MFA in that this degree focuses on the interplay between arts and technology rather
than traditional studio programs. Born out of the Arts and Humanities program, the ATEC classes have
recently left the nest to become a new department. So, what kind of artists are being produced in this
program? Some students are pursuing 3D computer animation, game design, and data visualization,
to name a few. However, a few are creating visual art that appears in art galleries, art centers, and
museums. I have highlighted a few here that are making some interesting work.
Video art has a short history, and like painting, the styles and subjects are diverse. They range
from realistic depictions of people and places to pure abstractions. Sarah Rachel Larson in her
series BackStage/OnStage, takes moments in time that are not particularly significant and
creates videos. These videos are slices of life, like drinking from a cup, watching a screen, or
tying your shoe. Jessie Porter is also a video artist. Porter is interested in short bursts of movement.
She is influenced by the 1980’s underground film artists in New York known as the Cinema of
Transgression. However, the short clips, stark black and white, and dramatic movement strike
me as more early 1900’s film test. Some of Porter’s earlier films are more kitschy and darker in
content, like Hermann Nitsch and the Orgien Mysterien Theater dark.

Caleb Shafer is a video artist that often incorporates well thought out installation to bring
a bit more than just a screen or projection. Shafer creates abstract art out of found film
that has some negative or kitsch content. He is taking it a bit further than Richard Prince
by stripping away the ad information present an image. Shafer uses analog and digital
methods to remove all the violent or sexual content to uncover the abstract and beautiful
elements left behind.

Liz Trosper makes colorful photo-collages that use paper and wires that seem to reflect the now,
the way a Cezanne still life painting captured late 19th century. Only instead of fruit, Trosper
is depicting garbage. Her musing on our throwaway society isn’t apocalyptic, but rather
pleasing to the eye. Her series of 100 drawings is like simplistic wireframes. She attempts
to draw the essence of shapes found outside CentralTrak.

At the last minute, Heather Charlet was suggested for a mention, so I contacted her and she
sent over a few videos. Girl Bathroom Shenanigans with Overlay engaged me a great deal
because of all the bathroom wall writings competing with the girls’ conversation. I had to
watch it over again just to try to catch everything. Much of her work uses internal dialogue
that is uncensored and thus feels authentic.

Caleb Shafer will have his MFA thesis show at CentralTrak on August 20th. Cynthia Ann Miro
has an upcoming show at RO2’s Magnolia Gallery on August 25th.

University of Texas at Dallas in Richardson
Caleb Shafer
Earth Delete Install
Cynthia Ann Saathoff_Tryst no. 1, 2015
Archival inks on metallic paper 8 × 8 in
Liz Trosper - WHHSBTA, 2015
Vinyl ink on canvas, 69 1/2 × 48 in
Cynthia Ann Miro works in video, but her still images first captured my attention. Miro likes to misuse
apps and programs to pull out distorted images. For example, she uses an old version of Instagram
where she purposely uploads images in the wrong shape so she gets a distortion, or what she calls
a digital slur. Because she uses the found grids on all these media platforms, I couldn’t help but
see the influence of Piet Mondrian’s later work.