Division of Art

Mary Vernon Painting Prize honors longtime art professor, helps launch young artists’ careers

Nicolas Gonzalez and Mary Vernon

Nicolás González and Mary Vernon

Mary Vernon plans to retire in May 2018, and Meadows School of the Arts wanted to create a fitting honor for the longtime art and art history professor. In 2016, along with a group of donors, the School established the Mary Vernon Painting Prize to help launch the careers of top art students.

Now, Meadows seeks to endow the prize fund in perpetuity, so that it can continue to help students establish their careers in the art world.

The School has set a goal of $100,000 or more to endow the annual award – presented to an undergraduate painter with the best body of work in the year, as judged by faculty. When fully vested, the endowment fund will generate $5,000 annually to be awarded to one or more promising art students.

To date, more than $60,000 has been secured toward the goal. An anonymous donor has offered to match dollar-for-dollar the next $20,000 in new gifts to help achieve or surpass the funding goal.

“In spring 2016, Mary told me it was time to transcend from an art student into an emerging artist,” says Nicolás González ’17, the prize’s first recipient. “She told me to invest my passion and time with painting materials that are rich in pigment and surfaces that are delicate to the touch. She said, ‘Let the world know that you are a painter, a serious painter, who knows how to paint.’”

The Mary Vernon Painting Prize has enabled González to purchase higher-quality painting supplies such as oils, Yupo paper, linen fabric and  brush script liners, he says. “Through these specific materials, my abilities as a painter have greatly expanded. They have allowed me to have a better understanding that the quality of the painting surface and the type of paint are very important.”

Vernon, says González, taught him to be brave and to persevere. “She encouraged me to never give up within the world of the arts,” he says. “There were times when I just wanted to throw in the towel, but every time, Mary seemed to always appear as a glowing light within the shadows of my fear. She would always encourage me to be better, to always do my best, and tell me that doors would always open as long as I turned the key. She said, ‘You already possess the key. It’s in your heart and soul, it speaks through your work. As long as you keep trying, doors will always open.’

“Mary Vernon is someone very special to this world and a true master of the arts and its history. Her love for the arts and her students is equal to none. I am so grateful to have Mary Vernon as my mentor, professor and true friend whom I hold close to my heart.”

— Written by Mary Guthrie

> Read the full story from the SMU Meadows homepage

Acts of Aggression at SMU’s Pollock Gallery showcases contemporary Guatemalan artists, Sept. 9-Oct. 14, 2017

Manuel Chavajay, Oq Ximtali, 2017 video performance, 400px

Manuel Chavajay, Oq Ximtali, from a 2017 video performance. Image courtesy the artist & Galería EXTRA.

SMU’s Pollock Gallery will present objects, images, texts and social projects by 11 contemporary artists from Guatemala in a new exhibition, Acts of Aggression: An Exhibition About Community. The show runs Sept. 9-Oct. 14, 2017.

Working 20 years after the official end of Guatemala’s civil war, the artists in Acts of Aggression “navigate the reconciliation of historic brutality with ongoing violence, challenge political amnesia, care for themselves and others, and build strategies for working through and around disastrous systemic failures,” according to a press release for the exhibition. Participating artists include Hellen Ascoli, Esvin Alarcón Lam, Edgar Calel, Manuel Chavajay Moralez, Margarita Figueroa, Jorge de León, Reyes Josué Morales, Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, Gabriel Rodríguez Pellecer, Mario Santizo and Inés Verdugo.

Curator Laura A. L. Wellen will offer a walk-through during an opening reception from 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9. The exhibit’s closing day, Saturday, Oct. 14, will feature a talk from 3-5 p.m. with Wellen, Meadows Division of Art Chair James Sullivan, and artists Hellen Ascoli and Reyes Josué Morales.

The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual (English/Spanish) catalog.

Acts of Aggression exhibit 400pxWellen holds a Ph.D. degree in art history and is a 2017 recipient of the Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for her website. She is also a 2017-18 Core Program Critic-in-Residence at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Since 2014, she has been working between Houston and Guatemala City, where she runs the apartment gallery and artist residency Yvonne. Her writing has been published in ArtForum, Art Lies, Artishock, Art Review, Arts + Culture Texas and Pastelegram, among other international publications.

The Pollock Gallery is operated by the Division of Art in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts and is located on the first floor of the Hughes-Trigg Student Center. Gallery hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 1-5 p.m. Saturday. The gallery is closed Sunday and Monday. Admission is free.

For more information, call 214-768-4439 or visit the Pollock Gallery online.

New book edited by SMU faculty member Noah Simblist examines artistic response to historical trauma

'Places of a Present Past' edited by SMU Art Chair Noah Simblist, book coverA new book edited by SMU Art Chair Noah Simblist will have its official launch at the 2015 New York Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1, Sept. 18-20.

Places of a Present Past brings together three exhibitions, all showcasing the work of international video artists, that were presented at the Meadows School of the Arts’ Pollock Gallery in 2014. All of them were curated by Simblist and the Pollock Gallery’s 2014 curatorial fellow, Sally Frater. Each shared a common theme: addressing the traces of trauma on particular sites and paying close attention to the lasting impacts of war.

The exhibitions explored in the book include Jin-me Yoon’s Extended Temporalities, which invoked the colonial relationship between Japan and Korea in the first half of the 20th century; the group show Where Are You From?, which included artworks by Aissa Deebi, Kamal Aljafari and Dor Guez recounting the story of the Israeli occupation of Palestine; and the Sarah Morris film 1972, alluding to the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, during which 11 Israeli athletes were kidnapped and murdered by a Palestinian terrorist group, pointing to the legacy of the Holocaust in Germany and beyond.

SMU Art Chair Noah Simblist

Noah Simblist, chair of SMU’s Division of Art

“The artworks in the book are bound together by a historiographical impulse,” said Simblist, chair and associate professor of art in the Meadows School. “In some sense, these artists act as historians. However, they are less interested in the truth than the way we feel through the legacies of past traumas. They reveal the oblique ways that we repress historical trauma, burying it in the very sites of their origin. Places of a Present Past is filled with an archaeological ethic, metaphorically digging down, both spatially and psychologically, into the depths of transnational grief.”

> Read the full story from SMU News

Calendar Highlights: Closing attractions for Commencement 2013

As the spring semester comes to an end and SMU celebrates its 98th commencement, don’t forget to visit the exhibitions on campus. Two are coming to a close, and you will want to see them before they’re gone:

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The First Four Centuries of Printed Bible Illustration 

This exhibition includes 50 bibles from Bridwell Library’s Special Collections that span from the beginning of the printed page to the 19th century. The exhibit focuses on the historical context, artistic development and cultural impact of the illustrations found in these scriptures. The First Four Centuries of Printed Bible Illustration will be on view in the Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries until Saturday, May 18.

Bachelor of Fine Arts Qualifying Exhibition 

The annual spring exhibition of graduating Division of Art seniors will be on display in the Pollock Gallery in Hughes-Trigg Student Center until Saturday, May 18, featuring a wide range of styles and media. Call 214-768-4439 for more information.

Linda DarnellLinda Darnell: From Dallas to Hollywood

This retrospective of Oak Cliff native Darnell’s acting career features selections from the Jeff Gordon Collection. It has been held over through Friday, June 7 in the Hawn Gallery, Hamon Arts Library.

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Impressions of Europe: 19th-Century Vistas by Martín Rico 

SMU’s Meadows Museum, in collaboration with the Prado Museum, presents the only American appearance of this exhibition spanning the career of renowned Spanish landscape painter Martín Rico y Ortega. The show has been held over through Sunday, July 7 in the Virginia Meadows Galleries. Admission is free for SMU faculty, staff and students with University ID.