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Feature Article: Austin Arts

Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.   – Claude Monet

Spend time with any artist and you’ll learn about their need to transform an idea, an emotion, or shadows cast by personal or collective experiences into something that lives out in the world, not just inside their head or heart. Does that creative expression need to be understood? Maybe, it’s human nature to try. But perhaps more important is to simply explore and investigate.

In the next six pages, you’ll meet a few of Austin’s many notable artists, sample a single selection from their diverse portfolios and learn about it, from them, in their own words. While each artist works in multiple media, the pieces shown here employ carefully crafted routes to the heart, mind and soul. Their creations tell stories magical and tragic, grounded in everyday reality and born in places of pure imagination.

Our selection is only a starting point; we hope you’ll use it to begin exploring the abundant experiences of art being created on any given day by the ever-growing community of artists living in your own hometown.

Teruko Nimura

Inspired by personal experiences and Asian, Asian-American and indigenous cultural traditions, Teruko Nimura creates participatory installations, sculptural objects and two-dimensional works that aim to facilitate both reflection and social interaction. Her art illustrates a particular interest in the ways collective memory, perception and identity are formed through shared events, ritual and ceremony.

“One Thousand Cranes for Ophelia” reclaims the image of the victimized Shakespearean character into one of transformation and peaceful power. Each blooming flower is made of origami cranes (symbols of hope and healing), referencing funerary bouquets and a transference of life force from the hollow chrysalis of the floating female form.” —Teruko Nimura
Photo by Teruko Nimura

Deborah Roberts

Investigating the ways in which societal interpretations of beauty have shaped African-American identity led Austin artist Deborah Roberts to position her practice in the vein of social commentary. Roberts’ work – collage, paintings, mixed media and installations – shows women of color, both young and old, that their beauty is not to be an object of convenience or ridicule and should not be made void or brought and sold at a moment’s notice; rather, it should be cherished and honored, as all women should be.

“Composed on paper, the face is a photo transfer rendered on packing tape; this disposal material makes reference to bandages, migration, and cheap “quick-fix” social solutions. The four heads function as wisdom, vision, strength and unity. This series challenges the notions of beauty, politics and colonialism.” —Deborah Roberts
Photo by David Broda

Ender Martos

Blending sculpture with painting and incorporating acrylic paints, monofilament line and Plexiglas along with a healthy dose of geometry, Ender Martos’ work is deeply influenced by his technical drawing experience. Equally influential is Martos’ hometown near Venezuela’s Andes Mountains where he was exposed early on to bright, invigorating colors and the majestic and erratic personality of nature.

My artwork plays with color schemes with the intention to create a harmonious effect that engages the eye as much as it engages
the mind. Light interacts with the translucent material, traveling through space and creating a sense of movement appearing
to vibrate or even twist with each step.” —Ender Martos
Photo by Ender Martos

Lucas Aoki

For Lucas Aoki, a native of Argentina, nature has always served as his greatest inspiration. Drawing on early experience as an illustrator, Aoki upped the scale of his art and took it outdoors when he moved to Austin in 2007 and began painting wall murals. His work has been characterized as surrealist and fantastical, balancing vivid colors with sometimes dark and mysterious elements for an overall feel of surprise and wonder.

“ I tend to create mysterious worlds where things don’t necessarily make sense, maybe a part of our subconscious. I think the
images in my art try to tell a story of a familiar, friendly and yet strange place or circumstance. In this piece, two souls meet
as an act of magic. They know they will be friends forever.” —Lucas Aoki
Photo by Lucas Aoki

Hollis Hammonds

Hollis Hammonds focuses primarily on drawing and sculpture installations. Her art is built on threads of her personal memory tied to the public collective consciousness. Evidence of war, natural disasters, consumerism and personal tragedy are the subjects most likely rendered in her work but, she says, the medium itself is as much content as it is form. Hammonds also serves as Chair of the Department of Visual Studies at St. Edward’s University.

“Working in a variety of media including sculptural installation, drawing and video, I’m interested in representing the uncertainty
of memory. I hope to create provocative and experiential works that conjure memories in the viewer. The works in Blanket of Fog
specifically represent a fire that consumed my childhood home.” —Hollis Hammonds
Photo by Scott David Gordon

Jenn Hassin

Prayers written on paper, rolled up and left inside the cracks of Jerusalem’s Western Wall were the first inspiration for Jenn Hassin’s artwork. In addition to using newspapers and letters, the U.S. Air Force veteran transforms military and prison uniforms, surgical scrubs, everyday clothing and clothing worn by victims during sexual assault into soft paper. She rips up and rolls the paper into tightly spiraled objects, using them to create her work.

“Letters of Sacrifice is an on-going memorial to service members who have been killed in action since 9/11 and is currently on display at the Pentagon. It contains one representational condolence letter for each and every deceased man or woman in uniform either killed in action or died of wounds. As service members die fighting for our country, the walls only get taller, adding one letter for each death.” —Jenn Hassin
Photo by Walter Wayman

Read more from the Arts Issue | November 2016