Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Nurturing artistic minds and enhancing San Antonio: 50 years with UTSA’s School of Art

Nurturing artistic minds and enhancing San Antonio: 50 years with UTSA’s School of Art

Professor of Instruction Blair Bodden chooses negatives to print in the darkroom with her students.

MAY 29, 2024 — The UTSA School of Art is celebrating a remarkable journey as San Antonio’s destination for affordable, high-quality arts education. Since its inception five decades ago when it started out as the Division of Art and Architecture and then became the Department of Art and Art History, the school, which is housed in the university’s College of Liberal and Fine Arts, has awarded Roadrunners more than 2,700 art and art history degrees.

Over the years, the School of Art has expanded its academic offerings. Both the Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) and Master of Fine Arts degrees were offered starting at the founding of UTSA in 1973. Since its accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) in 1980, the school has maintained a tradition of excellence, reflected through successive re-accreditations in 1988, 1998, 2008 and 2018.

“When I arrived in August of 1974, there was no base to start from; there was no art history program at UTSA. We had to create that curriculum ourselves,” Professor Emeritus Judith Sobre said. “The same week they hired me, we were ordering slides from catalogs and piecing together what would eventually come together as the initial footwork for the future art history program at UTSA.”

“The arts have been a part of UTSA since the humble beginnings of the university, and we are excited to be on a trajectory of growth.”

A student works on a figure drawing during a studio art class in the 1970s. Both the B.F.A. and M.F.A. degrees were offered when classes started at UTSA during the 1973-1974 school year.

In 2022, UTSA combined its programs with those from the Southwest School of Art (SSA) — an integration that gave rise to the UTSA Southwest Campus. At that time, the Department of Art and Art History became the School of Art. Bringing together the strengths and resources of both institutions, the integration enabled UTSA to expand its academic offerings by adding additional facilities for metals, papermaking and fiber arts.

Equally as important, UTSA has continued to offer the kind of community engagement opportunities previously offered by SSA. The university expanded the youth arts programs for San Antonians. UTSA also supports the visual arts through increased programming, exhibitions and collaborative projects, ensuring a more comprehensive educational experience for students pursuing arts careers.

The School of Art’s journey has been deeply entwined with community collaboration. Over the years, the program has hosted countless renowned international artists and critics including Peter Saul, Dave Hickey and Kukuli Velarde. The school has also awarded degrees to many outstanding artists and art historians who have made a deep impact on San Antonio, including Alana Coates, Adriana Miramontes and Dario Robleto. UTSA has forged alliances between its art programs and venues including the McNay Art Museum, the San Antonio Art Museum, Artpace, the Blue Star Arts venues and the San Antonio Zoo.

Printmaking students ink their woodcut blocks for steamroller printing on the UTSA School of Art’s annual CAM Day.

Also in 2022, the School of Art and the UTSA School of Music partnered with the university’s Professional and Continuing Education (PaCE) program to form UTSA Arts, an organized unit dedicated to community arts education, public-facing performances and exhibitions, arts-based research, and partnerships to enhance the accessibility of the arts for the public.

“The arts have been a part of UTSA since the humble beginnings of the university, and we are excited to be on a trajectory of growth. As the founding director of the School of Art, I am focused on guiding our programs to enrich our students’ artistic abilities while preparing them for successful careers after graduation. Celebrating our 50th year, we continue to prioritize equipping our graduates to thrive in diverse professional environments,” said Libby Rowe, founding director of the School of Art.

Currently, the School of Art, along with UTSA Libraries is planning a collaborative exhibition entitled “Cultural Bounty: The Beckstead • Lerna • Annala Collection” that will highlight new artworks donated to the university’s permanent collection. The exhibition is scheduled to open later this summer.

Learn more about UTSA Arts.

Associate Professor Teresa Eckmann (second from left) shares a laugh with students in the Russell Hill Rogers Galleries.

The school has celebrated its 50 years with several key events and exhibitions, including “Delita Martin: Her Temple of Everyday Familiars,” a retrospective held at the Russell Hill Rogers Galleries on the UTSA Southwest Campus this past spring.

The School of Music, which is also marking 50 years, will join the School of Art for a grand celebration at the Tobin Center later this year.

Nick Ward

UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.




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The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

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The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to promoting access for all. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.