UNT faculty members Shelley Cushman, Matthew Bourbon receive time to create art with fellowship

Shelley Cushman and Matthew Bourbon (Photo by Gary Payne)Two faculty members will expand upon work they've done in the past when they complete projects as the 2015-16 fellows in UNT's Institute for the Advancement of the Arts. Shelley Cushman, professor of dance, and Matthew Bourbon, associate professor of studio arts, will be granted a semester off from teaching duties to work on their projects.

For Cushman, that project will be research to choreograph a new work and to reconstruct three existing works, with the goal of having them filmed and included in Cinematic Caricatures, which is part of the New York Public Library of the Performing Arts' dance collection. She began the project in 1996 when College of Music professor Phil Winsor, who died in 2012, asked Cushman if she would choreograph some of his music compositions.

It includes 30 works, 26 of which have been completed.

"Each piece takes the title of the music composition -- but I don't know what the title is before I choreograph it," Cushman says. "I want to get the feel from the music when choreographing the piece, rather than knowing what Phil thought it was about."

Bourbon will be completing a new body of mid- and large-scale paintings and a suite of drawings. In recent years, he has traveled to various points in Europe and Japan and returned to create works that combine his interest in the historical traditions of Western art with the shallow and truncated space found in Eastern art.

He finds inspiration from images in a variety of sources -- film stills, illustrations, advertising, mail catalogs and fabric designs -- and his collage-like paintings appear both representational and abstract.

"I think of it as akin to jazz music," he says, "where there is a foundational structure for the medium but, within it, ample room for improvisation."