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Art faculty takes their turn at the Rubin Center

Gaby Velasquez
The 2018 Art Biennial Faculty Exibition will be open to the general public from Feb. 1 through April 6 at the Rubin Center.

The Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts at UTEP has always focused on displaying thought-provoking, international and modern art to the border region.

This Thursday, Feb. 1, the Rubin Center will host the 2018 UTEP Department of Art Biennial Faculty Exhibition, running until Friday, April 6.

Since the center opened in 2004, it has housed more than 75 exhibitions of contemporary art, many of which has been displayed throughout Texas and around the country.

At the Biennial Exhibition, students will be able to see the different artwork pieces done by 25 distinguished faculty members of the art department.

Dr. Heather Kaplan, visiting assistant professor of art education, will have her art displayed for the first time at the show.

“I missed the 2016 one, so I’m actually kind of excited to see what all of my colleagues will be sharing,” she said.

Kaplan’s work deals with colorful and interchangeable ceramic pieces of different textures and sizes.

“Part of my work is about play, and it’s about playing in my studio and so I’m really interested in having other people experience that play,” she said.

Nabil Gonzalez, lecturer for the art department, will also have  her artwork featured  for the first time in this event. She is a former UTEP student, whose focus is printmaking.

“Most of my work is political and it deals with social issues and government and the border. So, the work that I’m gonna be showing is mainly about the disappeared women of Juarez,” Gonzalez said. “I want to do something with my art that’s not just a pretty picture on the wall. I want it to have some sort of meaning.”

Her art pieces are also important to her because as a young woman, she experienced the fear of almost being one of those disappeared women.

Gomez went out with her friends one night in Ciudad Juarez. This was also when military and federal agents reached high numbers in the city. As she was on her way back home to El Paso, two trucks full of these Mexican government officials stopped them.

“We were really scared and I was like ‘this is it. I’m gone,’ but I don’t know what happened, and they just let us go,” she said. “We didn’t even have to pay ‘la mordida’(bribe).”

She attributed this to having been so close to the crossing bridge already, but never stopped thinking about what could have happened if they weren’t.

This experience greatly fueled her work and goal of helping society remember the disappeared women.

Their names play a big role in her art, as well as their photographs and silhouettes, which is what students and other faculty members can expect to see at the Biennial Exhibit.

Terry Bauer, advisor and senior lecturer, is an experienced faculty artist whose work has been displayed in Biennial Faculty Exhibits since she started teaching at UTEP in 2005.

Baurer’s art expertise falls under mixed media and drawing and her personal work deals with duality and creating images that represent a state of flux.

“Art is the one thing in my life that I get to control, totally,” Bauer said. “Sometimes the influence or the inspiration varies depending on what’s happening to you in your life at that time. Sometimes you don’t really consciously recognize it until after you made the work.”

Antonio Castro, associate professor in graphic design, has collaborated with former creative writing Professor Benjamin Alire Saenz, by creating his book designs and showcasing them in past exhibits. However, this 18-image project is different.

“I’m pretty excited about this exhibition because I’ve always shown commercial work, and this is a product that is not for a client,” Castro said. “It’s entirely my own and I’m pretty excited about that. I’m excited to see them hanging.”

The exhibit will include a wide range of artistic media such as ceramics, metals, sculptures, painting, printmaking, drawing, graphic design and more.

Every Thursday at noon from Feb. 8 to April 6, students are invited to join faculty artists in the galleries for informal conversations on subjects such as music composition and art, politics and painting, art and motherhood, literary and artistic collaboration, planned and unplanned making and US-Mexico artistic exchanges.

For more information on the exhibit as well as dates and locations of the forthcoming lectures, visit

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About the Contributors
Aylin Tafoya, Contributor
Gaby Velasquez, Photo editor
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Art faculty takes their turn at the Rubin Center