Micky Elliott College of Fine Arts News Archive

December 2021

  • SFA School of Theatre’s presentation of ‘Bootycandy’ to be showcased at festival

    SFA School of Theatre’s presentation of ‘Bootycandy’ to be showcased at festival

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    The work of the cast and crew of SFA School of Theatre’s presentation of Robert O’Hara’s “Bootycandy” will be showcased at the Region 6 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival to be held virtually Feb. 24 through 27.

    December 16, 2021—Robbie Goodrich

    Stephen F. Austin State University School of Theatre’s production of “Bootycandy” has been selected by the Region 6 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for inclusion at its upcoming festival to be held virtually Feb. 24 through 27.

    SFA’s presentation of Robert O’Hara’s play “Bootycandy” is one of only six plays selected from throughout a five-state area to be presented at the festival.

    While performances by the School of Theatre have been nominated or considered for festival inclusion numerous times, this is first time an SFA play has been selected, according to Cleo House Jr., director of the School of Theatre and of the play.

    “A rare and prestigious honor, this is the first time that SFA School of Theatre has been honored as an outstanding production at the regional festival,” he said. Region 6 is made up of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas and Louisiana. The goal of the regional selection committee is to select/rank the productions that represent “the best of what our region offers,” according to House.

    “I couldn’t be more proud of the leadership, faculty and students from the School of Theatre who contributed to this incredible production,” said Gary Wurtz, interim dean of the Micky Elliott College of Fine Arts. “It was one of those rare situations that honestly challenged the students, the faculty, Director House, our community of theatre-goers, and me. Cleo had a vision in programming this play, and from where I stand that vision was on point. To see that rewarded through a first-ever selection to be included in the KCACT Festival is truly outstanding.”

    “Our main reason for participating in KCACTF is for the numerous opportunities, from networking to professional development, our students can receive,” House said. “For our students and faculty to be recognized in this way means their work will be viewed by students, educators and professionals from across our five-state region and beyond. That is great exposure not only for them but also for SFA and the School of Theatre.”

    The School of Theatre presented “Bootycandy” for its first Mainstage production in October. The play is a satiric portrait of American life told through the lens of Sutter, a gay Black man on an outrageous odyssey through his childhood home, his church, dive bars, motel rooms and even nursing homes. O'Hara weaves together scenes, sermons, sketches and daring meta-theatrics to create a kaleidoscopic portrayal of growing up gay and Black.

    “While the School of Theatre has participated in KCACTF before my time as director, we had not as a department routinely participated in the regional festival as attendees and definitely not with an invited production,” he added. “Our participation gives us visibility and lets students who are looking for a place to train know that we are a viable option for them when it comes to their theatre training.

    “What is even more rewarding is this show was a big risk for us to put on because it is unlike anything we’ve ever done,” House said, “but it paid off. During the run, audience attendance grew every night due to word of mouth, and our final night of performance was the most attended. ‘Bootycandy’ is such a great example of the School of Theatre’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness, not only in production but also in curriculum. We are committed to a well-rounded offering of plays for our Mainstage; the selections this year provide a good example, from bold newer and contemporary works to the tried-and-true that we’re bringing in the spring with Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” and William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.”

    KCACTF is a national organization affiliated with the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The organization celebrates and encourages excellence in college and university theatre.

    For more information about the School of Theatre, call (936) 468-4003 or visit theatre.sfasu.edu.

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  • SFA’s Roberts wins World Wide Kitsch Competition in art

    SFA’s Roberts wins World Wide Kitsch Competition in art

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    SFA  Associate Professor of Art Shaun Roberts earned first place honors and was voted as People’s Choice Award for his piece “Messenger” in the World Wide Kitsch Competition 2021.

    December 15, 2021—Robbie Goodrich

    The artwork of Shaun Roberts, associate professor of art at Stephen F. Austin State University, was awarded first place and selected as People’s Choice Award in the World Wide Kitsch Competition 2021.

    The World Wide Kitsch Competition is a an annual international competition of classical paintings. Hundreds of painters compete across the globe but only a select group make it to the finalist category. This year’s jurors included Öde Nerdrum, a Norwegian painter and son of Odd Nerdrum, founder of the Kitsch movement; Marjan Bakhtiarikish, an Australian painter and winner of the WWK competition in 2020; and Cheng Wu, a Chinese painter. Winners are selected by jurors, but the People’s Choice Award is selected by public voting through social media.

    As the first place winner, Roberts won a travel certificate for an interview at Cave of Apelles and the Kitsch bronze locket. In addition, first and second place were awarded the book "Kitsch More Than Art" by Odd Nerdrum, Jan-Ove Tuv and others and the first edition of Sivilisasjonen Magazine. The Cave of Apelles is a talk show surrounding long-form conversations on classical culture, myths and philosophy, according to information at Caveofapelles.com. It has its name from the Greek painter Apelles, considered the greatest of the ancient old masters and a source of inspiration to artist titans such as Rembrandt, Velasquez and Odd Nerdrum, according to Roberts.

    “Winning the award is a true honor for me, because I am competing against the best painters in my field, many of whom I truly admire and hold a great deal of respect for,” Roberts said. “To win the WWK Competition has been a dream.”

    Chris Talbot, director of the SFA School of Art, is appreciative that Roberts is getting “such high-level recognition” for his work.

    “He works very hard and makes large, ambitious and complicated paintings,” Talbot said. “He is an inspiration to his students both in his example as a successful artist and in the attention that he dedicates to them in the classroom.”

    Roberts said that Kitsch is “an international movement” made up of classical painters. It incorporates techniques of the old masters with narrative, romanticism and emotionally charged imagery. The movement defines Kitsch as synonymous with the arts of ancient Rome or ancient Greece, the Renaissance and Aristotelian philosophy. Kitsch painters embrace Kitsch as a positive term, not in opposition to “art,” but as its own independent superstructure.

    Though not connected to the WWK competition, Roberts has also been invited to do a month-long residency at the studio of Odd Nerdrum. In order to receive the invitation, Roberts had to apply by making a self-portrait from life and ship the work to Norway along with a paragraph talking about his work for review.

    “I have always admired great painters and storytellers,” Roberts said, “specifically how works made hundreds or thousands of years in the past still hold such powerful meaning and influence over me. Perhaps this is what led me to become a painter. Much like my influences, I strive to bring a timeless narrative filled with pathos, sentimentality and sensuality to my work.”

    Roberts believes storytelling through various artistic forms is more relevant today than ever, “in our chaotic times.”

    “As a society, we have mainly become self-absorbed in digital worlds with our devices,” he said. “Social media has replaced meaningful relationships, detached us from or distorted our realities and, in my opinion, destroyed our empathy for one another. It is easy to dehumanize and to be dehumanized. One might argue that a lack of empathy has played a significant role in the dire circumstances we currently face each day. Precisely what I want to reintroduce to my audience through universal stories is empathy.”

    Roberts employs various techniques and methods in his paintings to construct realism. He explains that the goal is “not a photographic representation, but to convey a visceral moment that feels like a lived experience. I observe, adapt and combine approaches that I find in the great works of masters stretching from Hellenistic Greece to the Baroque periods.”

    He said he does not paint a picture, but instead paints “a moment in motion, a story or a dream.”

    “I'm fascinated by the history of objects and their stories,” Roberts said. “I want my paintings to have that same sense of wonder. I think this kind of sentimentality is a common experience to which we all can relate. To enter the eternal realm of the universal, one must ignore the individual's voice and step outside of personal expression, strip the work of one's individualistic views and time and replace it with a sense of common individuality. To acknowledge a pastness of the present, something that all humans from any time can relate to, you then achieve something universal and outside of yourself.

    “The painting becomes better than the painter,” he said. “I have chosen a difficult path filled with goals I may never achieve, but the journey is well worth the sacrifice for me.”

    To contact Roberts, or for information about the SFA School of Art, call (936) 468-4804 or visit art.sfasu.edu.

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