Research Magazine 2006

UT Arlington joins group to explore new media


Exhibits from The Gallery at UTA have been digitally designed and presented on the Web.

Teresa, a fifth-grader in a remote West Texas town, loves to draw. Her teacher senses exceptional talent and wants to expose the creative child to world-class artwork. But like many children, Teresa has limited access to galleries and museums.

Fortunately, technology now makes it possible for teachers to whisk entire classes to fine art repositories, even the famed Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, without leaving their classrooms.

“Today, Texas museums routinely send meaningful art experiences directly into classrooms electronically,” UT Arlington Art and Art History Department Chair Robert Hower said. “They collaborate with educational specialists and artists across the state to develop materials that have a storytelling quality and deliver them by Internet to teachers whose schools may have difficulty traveling to museums.”

Bringing museums to students is part of the mission of the New Media Consortium (NMC), an international nonprofit group of nearly 250 learning-focused organizations dedicated to the exploration and use of new media and new technologies. It serves as a catalyst for developing technology applications to support learning and creative expression.

UT Arlington recently was chosen to participate in the NMC, which includes major museums and universities like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Columbia universities.

“The invitation to become a member demonstrates the international respect for the research and creative activity of faculty members in the Department of Art and Art History whose work is exhibited and published throughout the nation and around the world,” said Beth Wright, dean of the UT Arlington College of Liberal Arts.                   

The NMC sponsors a variety of programs designed to stimulate innovation and encourage collaboration among member institutions. Through its projects, Web site and series of international conferences, the NMC stimulates dialog by exploring ideas, technologies and applications.

“Our faculty and students in art history, art education, graphic design, photography, film/video and Design Texas will have outstanding opportunities to participate in this program,” Hower said.

He said UT Arlington was selected because of its participation in the Marcus Digital Education Project for Texas Museums and Galleries, managed by the consortium. The project, funded by the Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation, is designed to stimulate the state’s visual arts education by increasing the capacity of Texas museums to use digital storytelling tools and techniques.

The Gallery at UTA, directed by Benito Huerta, annually provides a series of exhibitions that will be interpreted, digitally designed and presented on the gallery Web site. The first exhibition material became available in the summer.

The Marcus Digital Education activity is the third phase of the department’s digital research initiatives. Starting this fall, the department began offering a digital conversion track for all art and art history students.

NMC membership provides access to tools like Pachyderm, an easy-to-use multimedia-authoring tool that results in an interactive Flash-based multimedia presentation.

— Sue Stevens