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Anthropogenesis at UT’s VAC

Animals have always been an important part of my life and a great emphasis in my own work as an artist. They remind me that soft and cuddly things can outrank us in a scuffle despite our delusions of grandeur. They reflect the nasty side of ourselves that fight, shit and fuck. They remind us that we are ultimately one of them and that they are our surrogates, test subjects, companions, and sometimes our only solace.

ANTHROPOGENESIS, which recently opened at UT’s Visual Art Center (VAC), is curated by two PhD students in art history – Ariel Evans and Lauren Hamer. The show is a strong example of Director Jade Walker’s mission to provide a site for interaction between art education and practice. It’s a show that successfully gives students the opportunity to galvanize a space where artists, writers and art historians come together around an idea.

Poet Greg Koehler reading at Anthropogenesis

Opening night included a poetry reading by S.E. Smith and Greg Koehler. Smith and Koehler’s addition to the conversation that night pushed Walker’s vision of intersection. Koehler’s Names for Ponies or Poem’s for Ponies poem (I hope I got that title right) had just the right mix of humor and human projection, making the crowd laugh and cringe simultaneously.

Jules Buck Jones

As for the art in the exhibition, there was a wide range of media from traditional drawing, mixed media sculpture, video and photography.  The word “anthropogenesis” refers to the moment when human beings distinguished themselves from animals. Jules Buck Jones’ work, which came straight from his Everglades show at Conduit Gallery in Dallas, is an example of two kinds of nature fetishes. Taking over the back corner of the gallery his Genus Series (Diurnal Birds of Prey), 84 drawings done in ink and graphite mix Audubon-like scientific studies with ritualistic tribal renderings.

Jill Pangallo- Hosiery

Building on this, Jill Pangallo’s 6-page spread, What’s Sexy for Summer, which was in the Art Lies Summer 2010 edition is under glass and presents itself like a museological artifact. The spread involves images of Pangallo and a cat that seem to be interchangeably set up as models, each lounging in artful poses in a state of sedated boho chic.

Jill Pangallo- Whats's Sexy for Summer

Have you ever heard the one about aliens who looked down at our planet for signs of intelligent life? They tried to talk to the dogs first since they seemed to have the power to make us follow them and pick up their poo. This joke seems to be somewhat the point of Pangallo’s spread and maybe the whole exhibition, pointing out the increasingly diminishing space between animals and humans.
Anthropogenesis: Recent Work by Six Artists features the work of Kelly Rae Burns, Kristina Felix, Jules Buck Jones, Jonathon Keats, Jill Pangallo, and S.E. Smith. The exhibition runs through December 18, 2010 at the University of Texas, VAC’s Center Space.

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