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Former professor uses his talent for the public eye

Cristina Esquivel
“Art on the Rim” is being showcased on Rim Road, close to Scenic Drive. This exhibit includes art from UTEP retired art professor Ray Parish.

After 29 years of teaching art at UTEP, Ray Parish is now using his passion for constructing metal sculptures, which are now being showcased on Rim Road, close to Scenic Drive.

Parish, who retired last year, showcased his art on the same street in 2002, but this year is different. Artist Angel Cabrales; Moises Bravo, Geoff Herbst, Daniel Lehman, Raul Monarrez, Becky Hendrick, Jessica Pizaña, Greg Elliott, Chris Bevins and Kat Bevins will also be adding to the mile-long road. The public can check out the artists work from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays, until Nov. 16.

“Art on the Rim” has been brought back by Ana Aleman and Amy Parker, the organizers of the event. Two of Parish’s pieces, one called “Arabesque”—a tribute to his 12-year-old granddaughter—and his second called “Hero”—a tribute to all who work for the protection and betterment of others—will be showcased.

Parish said his inspiration comes from his surroundings. He also said that his ideas often keep him up all night until he comes up with the ideal sculpture. He spent three years working on an environmental series.

“The mental process is often what generated the concept in the first place, but there is a great deal of thought about how the sculpture is working and how could it be more effective,” Parish said. “I am a compulsive builder. The most important thing is making the work, but having it seen completes the process.”

Parish’s sculptures are also exhibited on Alabama Street and in front of the Don Haskins Center. The Rim Road Neighborhood Association supports the idea with funding, as putting up the show costs approximately $4,000.

Parish said he would also like to showcase his art in other locations if there were funds available to do so.   

Joaquin Vasquez, senior studio art and graphic design major, said he enjoys how Parish used certain objects to come up with his sculptures and looks forward to walking around Rim Road to get a closer look.

“The forms that he is playing with intrigue me. I enjoy the scale of his work. Not to put other forms of art down, but with sculpture, when I see one, I know it is interactive,” Vasquez said. “I can walk around it and see it from different angles, something you can’t necessarily do with a painting or a print. I would definitely consider taking a trip out to see his collection of work.”

Alexsandra Annello, junior art major, said she admires Parish’s close detail on each structure and the time he took to continue his passion.

“I think it is also super cool to recognize someone who took a lot of their time and career to help other people with their sculptures,” Annello said. “I can say as an art student at UTEP, I sometimes forget that our professors basically have two careers and all the extra time they take to help us is taken away from their
personal work.”

Annello said Parish’s unique touch adds to both the community and to the scenery.

“While being incorporated with the landscape of El Paso is really interesting, it kind of forces people to look at something (like a view on Rim Road) that they are familiar with in a new way,” she said.

Parish said that although being an artist is challenging, he is thankful to have had a position at UTEP that supported his ambition. He offered advice to students who are dedicated to their passion for art.

“If one is an artist, one can’t really be happy not being an artist. In my 29 years at UTEP, we graduated many who have become successful visual artists, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who isn’t completely committed,” Parish said.

Kimberly Valle may be reached at [email protected].

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Former professor uses his talent for the public eye