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Mitchell Center presents IART session

UH art students came in full to attend the Interdisciplinary Arts Information Session held Tuesday afternoon, at UH’s Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts.

“The way visual artists speak to each other is really different to how creative writers speak to each other, how people in theater and dance collaborate,” Director of Academic Affairs for the Mitchell Center Lacy Johnson said.“In IART, you get to sort of walk among all those registers of collaboration.”

Johnson said the IART program grew from a class when the Mitchell Center first opened called “Collaboration Among The Arts.” In this course, graduates from UH’s Moores School of Music, School of Art, School of Theater and Dance and the Creative Writing Program, were hand-picked, taught by a faculty member from each department and joined forces to complete projects.

“I helped to direct a stage performance (and) a stop-motion animation video,” Johnson said. “I recorded my voice, and we manipulated it so that it didn’t sound like my voice anymore. Those are all experiences I would not have had if I’d stayed in my own discipline.”

Four artists were invited to the session to share what students can expect upon signing up for IART.

“We’re going to make a custom bouncy house that will have four sides of projection screen,” Mary Magsamen, curator of Aurora Moving Show said. “We’re making this object that people can come inside, bounce with us, and there’ll be a live feed.”

Magsamen and her collaborator, co-professor and husband, UH video professor Stephan Hillerbrand, said that the project will be an exhibition piece for CounterCurrent 16, an experimental art festival held by the Mitchell Center from April 12 to 17 of 2016.

“Students in the course will have lots of projects to do,” Hillerband said. “But for the festival, they’re going to see how the bouncy house is created, learn about the technology of video mapping onto the house, help us set it up (and) manage it.”

UH architecture professor Patrick Peters also shared a project he proposed for the IART course in Spring 2017 for creative writing and graphic design students.

“(The project) is to develop a place to appreciate the environmental conditions of the UH Coastal Center,” Peters said. “It’s a small structure that the students will collaboratively design and built.”

The UH Coastal Center is located about 25 miles from campus down I-45 toward the Gulf of Mexico.

“We’re excited,” Peters said. “We have a history of doing collaborative work between architecture and graphic design with the Mitchell Center. This will be the latest step forward in that.”

Maria del Carmen Montoya of the Ghana Think Tank, a global-scale public art project that aimed to solve cultural-related problems in developed nations, had already collaborated with students from Johnson’s class and the IART program.

“I’m really impressed by the incredible generosity of the student body,”  Montoya said. “(I’m impressed with) not only the willingness to speak, but just how thoughtful and smart everyone is.”

While Johnson said IART’s future has many paths depending on who is involved, the course’s collaborative nature will remain unwavering.

“I think things are always going to be consistent,” Johnson said. “We’re always going to be trying to engage the community, the campus and the issues that we’re all collectively considering in our artistic and scholarly practices.”

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