Continuing its legacy of excellence as a center for artistic expression and education, UNT launched the Institute for the Advancement of the Arts this fall and welcomed the institute’s first artist-in-residence — Guillermo Arriaga, whose films include the Oscar-nominated, Golden Globe-winning Babel.
Designed to support accomplished professionals in the visual, performing and creative literary arts, the institute also named its inaugural faculty fellows — Dornith Doherty, professor of studio art, and Cindy McTee, Regents Professor of music — and opened its new home at UNT on the Square.
Building UNT’s arts legacy
UNT’s new institute will “further the university’s reputation for nurturing artistic and creative expression,” says Wendy K. Wilkins, provost and vice president for academic affairs, whose office jointly supports the institute with the Office of Research and Economic Development.
Wilkins says the institute will recognize artistic contributions and share them with the public in addition to enhancing the learning environment for UNT students. Its steering committee is composed of the deans of music, visual arts and design, and arts and sciences.
As the first artist-in-residence, Arriaga spoke to classes and joined the institute’s opening festivities in October. He will be granted time to pursue creative projects as well as share his expertise with students, faculty and the community.
Among his acclaimed films, Babel earned seven Academy Award nominations and the Golden Globe for Best Dramatic Film of 2006, and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada won the Best Screenplay Award at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival. Most recently, Arriaga made his directorial debut with The Burning Plain, based on his screenplay. A native of Mexico City, he also is a renowned novelist.
Wilkins describes the artist-in-residence program as an opportunity for faculty and students to interact with some of the best professionals in their fields. The artists will be recruited internationally to help expose faculty and students to new teaching techniques and new ways of thinking about the creative process.
UNT on the Square
The institute’s new home — UNT on the Square, a 2,400-square-foot leased building at 109 N. Elm St. on the Denton courthouse square — also is serving as a gathering place and exhibition space for the arts. Its director is Herbert Holl, former longtime executive director of the Greater Denton Arts Council.
Wilkins says the institute and its new home “provide an open door to community partnership and allow our students and faculty to share their talent with the surrounding area.”
Works from UNT’s P.R.I.N.T. Press, including creations from recent Hunting Art Prize winner Robyn O’Neil, were the first on display. UNT on the Square also will host gatherings such as poetry readings, small ensemble performances and student art exhibitions.
The new faculty fellows for the institute, chosen based on a competitive application process, will be granted release from other faculty duties this spring to pursue their projects full time.
Doherty, who coordinates UNT’s photography program, has exhibited in galleries around the world. In her project “Archiving Eden,” she is using X-ray machines to photograph seeds and cloned plants at two international seed banks and incorporating the images into digital collages.
The collages, to be featured in several major exhibitions, will “contribute to the debate on the changing impact of humans on the natural world,” says Doherty, whose awards include grants from the Fulbright Foundation, the Japan Foundation and the U.S. Department of the Interior.
McTee is an acclaimed composer whose works have been performed in the U.S. and abroad. She is composing a nine-minute piece, Tempus Fugit, for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and creating a transcription for UNT’s Wind Symphony. The piece “will celebrate the musical and cultural energy of modern-day America,” McTee says.
In June, Leonard Slatkin will direct a performance of the piece by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, honoring McTee as the winner of the orchestra’s Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award for Female Composers. She also has earned Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships, among other awards. Eugene Migliaro Corporon will conduct a performance of the wind transcription at UNT in the fall.