Life + Arts

Aurora Picture Show presents student art

Interacting with nature, delving into imagery captured by the human mind and even extracting movement to create notes of music – these are just a few of the works audiences will experience at the screening of Sound Forms at 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Aurora Picture Show.

Unlike art exhibits in the traditional sense, Sound Forms focuses on integrating technology with creative expression that reaches far beyond the canvas frame.

The screening features works by current students and graduates of the UH School of Art. Each of their works touches base on subject matter that is both individualized to the artist and relatable to the viewer.

Third-year MFA candidate in painting and drawing and participant Norberto Gomez Jr. states that, for him, the virtue of technology comes from opening itself up to new opportunities of usage.

‘(It is) unlike charcoal or graphite, for example, which is about as far as that can go. Technology is so present that artists haven’t really tapped into it completely, whether on a technical or conceptual level,’ Gomez said.

‘ A common echo amongst the student artists is the innovative use of video art as the media chosen for the screening – combining several elements at once allows for a greater freedom for the artists themselves.

‘The medium is so different from painting,’ said Jessica Ninci, a post-baccalaureate and one artist of Sound Forms whose work involves including the artist herself in the performance of the piece.

Ninci’s Forest Love Dance Remix contains revealing footage of the individual seeking to connect with the natural world, but deconstructed in a manner that exposes the viewer to the process behind the film.

Photography/digital media senior Chuck Ivy took a different path in his submission for the screening. His approach involved the concept of time-based media, such as photography or movie stills, which capture images in a smaller time frame, instead of constructing videos from pictures that are minutes, hours and even longer apart.

Ivy chose to have his audience rely upon the human brain’s capacity ‘to fill in the gaps’ between the images displayed.

For Nick Bontrager, a recent graduate of the photography/digital media program, screening of a video documentation gives a new meaning to the term ‘musician,’ as he utilizes physical movement to be interpreted as data and composed as music scores.’

In addition, a number of other student artists’ work is also part of the screening – Camilo Gonzalez, Kelly Quarles, Alex Nguyen, Jenny Westbury, Marian Ochoa, and John Madji, just to name a few.

Curated by Stephan Hillerbrand and Mary Magasamen, a husband-wife artist team and both professors in the UH School of Art, Sound Forms aims to show a different side of digital media in an age dictated by technology. Specifically, the content of the screening explores various subject matter through the medium of video art and video performance.

Initially created as a prelude to the performance by Laurie Anderson and the Society of Performing Arts in October 2008, the project developed into a screening that not only doubled in size, but also grew to include manipulating sound – the overarching theme of Sound Forms.

Magasamen and Hillerbrand said that in several of the works, the artists turn the camera on themselves as they work with performance or turn it on existing media appropriated from television. Images from outside sources and sound that is originally created is all manipulated by the artists in order to develop something new.

The advent of video technology over the past fifty years has enabled artists to not only capture their works on film, but also allowed for increased accessibility by audiences as well – whether in galleries and museums, or in public forums such as Sound Forms and the internet.

‘We really just want people to come and see how creative and talented the University of Houston School of Art students are working in non-traditional and non-narrative ways to express their ideas and explore technology,’ Magasamen and Hillerbrand said.’

During the ten years since its inception, the Aurora Picture Show has given support to independent artists working in the Southwest, through endowments from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Brown Foundation, Texas Commission on the Arts, the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, the Nightingale Code Foundation, the Oshman Foundation, the Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Through over fifty programs and exhibitions every year, Aurora strives to provide for a public arena where artists in new media and forms can have a thought-provoking exchange with their audiences.

The Aurora Picture Show’s screening of Sound Forms will run for one night only on Saturday at the Aurora Theatre, 800 Aurora Street. Admission is free with a valid student I.D, with tickets selling for $6. For additional information and to purchase tickets to Sound Forms call the Aurora Theatre at 713-868-2101 or visit

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