‘The Stuff of You’

UTSA student art on display at Southwest School of Art

Samantha Ysaguirre, Contributing Writer

Students displayed works of art on Oct. 18 in the Southwest School of Art hallway to showcase young and upcoming artists expanding on the barriers of art. Professor Chris Sauter, associate professor of instruction in the Art and Art History Departments, takes an exciting twist on the boundaries of art as he encourages students in his Drawing II course to question and identify with unusual materials.

“Materials used in the art can carry significance,” Sauter said. “The meaning of an artwork transmits by the subject, process, and media used. Using unusual materials and methods can add content through metaphors. Pushing the boundaries of possible art-making materials allows for the potential of an expanded field.”

One of the first students selected was junior Eva Montoya, who displayed a self-portrait constructed entirely from her hair and glued onto a black and white canvas. Her piece executes Sauter’s intention as her artwork pushes artistic barriers while bringing new and refreshing insight into the theme of self-love.

“The material needs to follow a theme in your life, so a big recurrence in my life is how I represent myself and how I developed my personality through my hair — how I styled and wore my hair throughout the years,” Montoya explained. “I went through my highs and lows with my hair. I felt like I went through stages, and it’s shown by what kind of style my hair is in, whether I straightened it, let it be curly, or color it. I’ve even styled it to a pixie cut just because I was ready for something new; it was a material that has been with me throughout my life. So then, I wanted to capture a self-portrait of one of the lowest times with my hair made out of my hair.” 

Montoya then finds a silver lining amid a difficult season with her hair and embellishes the beauty of her features and the relational meaning of self-love.

“Although I have my bad times with my hair, I still love it, and I tried to capture that as well,” Montoya described. “No matter how the things about yourself bother you, it will always be a part of you. My hair was something that bothered me for so long, and I needed to grow into embracing it to the point where I could make artwork out of it. As an artist, I am up for a challenge, even if it is personal.” 

Samantha Ysaguirre

Sophomore Alejandra Cuevas follows as her artwork is next in viewing and hung alongside Montoya. Cuevas uses makeup materials such as foundation and lipstick to create a self-portrait of themselves. Cuevas attempts to break the walls associated with gender using feminine materials to connect with the world’s perspective yet challenge the audience to question who someone is on the inside.

“I wanted to make a piece based on the way we are to perceive ourselves in a world that is very connected to gender. I was raised as a very feminine girl, and at some point, I realized that wasn’t who I was. Even though I was feminine, I wasn’t a girl, so I wanted to use a mirror as that sort of reflection,” Cuevas said. “It doesn’t matter what my body is or how people think I look because though I look one way, it doesn’t mean I am one way. I did use my pronouns around the self-portrait to represent a guardedness of myself. And the flowers are the femininity that people wanted me to be. The femininity is still a part of me.” 

Cuevas encourages other artists to be authentically creative and fearless with what they have to say by shying away from societal norms and persuading her audience that art is one of the best ways to express that. 

“Being an artist lets you share your voice,” Cuevas stated. “I can say it, but people will remember the work made with unusual materials and notice me. So I would encourage others to be fearless in putting names down and telling people who they are because people will see you and take in one thing and never look back.”

The final artwork showcase included junior Emiliano Luevano, whose self-portrait uses a car seat headrest and an etching technique to spark passion and insight in viewers. Luevano shares his love for cars and art to make the audience question the art and the artist while creating a connection.

Samantha Ysaguirre

“I have been interested in cars since I could remember,” Luevano noted. “While my medium does include a pen, I wanted to use an object that represents my liking for vehicles. And I want the viewer to pick up on my self-interest. So I pulled out a headrest that was not in use anymore and then, with an X-Acto knife, etched out the edges of a face. Once through, I needed to remove the leather headpiece. I did go into detail with a black pen and enhanced more detailing.”

 Luevano not only shares his passions through his artwork but also shares his outlook on duality. 

“You can see some foam with the cuts, so I like how that turned out — it interpreted this other side of me in terms of my interest and who I am,” Luevano shared. “I want the viewers to question the artist, myself, who I am, my passions, and what drives me when creating my artwork — to experience insight.” 

All three students created insight into the materials around us involved in our everyday lives. From self-love to identity and passion, all concepts expand on the walls at UTSA — a gentle reminder to look up and see what art lies ahead. The student’s artwork is available for viewing at 300 Augusta St, San Antonio, Texas 78205, on the second floor, and will continue to showcase this upcoming week.