uta faculty

Episode 22: Spencer Evans

“I wanted to find out more about my African identity outside of an American context.”

Spencer Evans is a Dallas-based artist who uses bold colors and dynamic gestures to create portraits that question the African-American identity. Originally from Houston, he earned a BFA from the University of Missouri and an MFA from the University of Texas at Arlington. Evans drew critical praise last year for his first solo show at Dallas’ Conduit Gallery entitled “I Am Because We Are”. The series was the product of research to explore the differences between Black Americans and Nigerian Africans. Examining his ancestral lineage which he traced to Nigeria and Cameroon, the artist worked with the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary and Bowen University to engage on-site interviews in Nigeria. The discussions focused on identity and social constructs looking for differences between Nigerians and the millions of African descendants living in the United States. In the end, Evans encountered a shift of his own point of view as he discovered many similarities between the Nigerians he met and the Black Americans he knew at home. This shift became the basis for his visual exploration of the topic.

I recently sat down with Spencer at his studio in Dallas where we discussed growing up in Houston, playing college football, understanding one’s identity, code switching and challenging preconceptions.

Website: spencerevansart.com

Instagram: @spencerevans_art

Episode 21: Benito Huerta

“We’re on the precipice of destroying ourselves. So, how do we come up with solutions to avoid that? I think we’re spurred on by the beauty that surrounds us.”

Benito Huerta is an artist, and a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington where he has been Director and Curator of The Gallery at UTA since 1997. Huerta received a B.F.A. at the University of Houston and his Masters at New Mexico State University. He was Co-founder, Executive Director and Emeritus Board Director of Art Lies, a Texas Art Journal. As a curator, he has organized surveys and retrospectives of Mel Chin, John Hernandez, Luis Jimenez, Dalton Maroney, and Celia Alvarez Munoz. As a painter, Huerta specializes in large-scale oils that utilize pop culture and historical art references to explore the juxtaposition of death and beauty. In addition to painting, Huerta also creates three-dimensional work. He has completed public works projects which include DFW International Airport, the Mexican-American Cultural Center in Austin, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, Houston Metropolitan Transit and Fort Worth’s South Main Street Public Art Project. In 2002, the Dallas Center for Contemporary Art awarded Huerta with its Legend Award. His work is included in the Menil Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Albuquerque Museum of Art, the Art Museum of South Texas and the National Museum of Mexican Art, as well a variety of private and public collections.

I recently sat down with Benito at his home studio near the UTA campus where we discussed growing up in Corpus Christi, decades in curation, beauty, death, chalupas, and booking the Rolling Stones.

To see Benito Huerta’s work on Artsy, click here.