Texas Tech University

Inaugural Arts Practice Research Conference Bringing Diverse Artists to Lubbock

Heidi Toth

September 16, 2015

The conference is being held in conjunction with the annual Texas Association of Schools of Arts conference.

Keynote speaker will be Nick Cave, performance artist.

Arts educators from throughout the world are coming to Texas Tech University for a joint conference examining the creative process in a variety of art forms.

The College of Visual & Performing Arts, the Roots Music Institute and the Vernacular Music Center are presenting the inaugural Arts Practice Research: Scholarship, Pedagogy and the Creative Process from Oct. 1-3, at the same time as the annual Texas Association of Schools of Arts conference, sponsored by the School of Art and the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts (LHUCA).

Christopher Smith, the Vernacular Music Center director and professor of musicology at Texas Tech, said the Arts Research Practice Conference is a unique conference that was founded at Texas Tech this year to consider the practice of making art and the scholarly discipline of investigating and putting the making of that art into proper context.

Nick Cave

“Arts practice research investigates the practice of making art – not just technically how to do it, but more critically and analytically why an artist makes the particular choices she or he does,” Smith said. “Historically, this has been the job of historians and critics. APR as a field suggests that artists themselves, with the right critical apparatus and perspectives, have unique and insightful things to say about their own artistic choices.”

The joint conference will bring various types of artists together to exchange ideas and experience the arts opportunities Texas Tech has to offer. Art professor Carol Flueckiger, theatre professor Bill Gelber, Smith and former Texas Tech dance professor Nicole Wesley headed the committee that planned the conference.

This is the first conference of its type in North America, and Smith said attendees and presenters are coming from Ireland, the United Kingdom and throughout the United States.

Multidisciplinary artist Nick Cave will be the keynote speaker. Cave is a faculty member at the Art Institute of Chicago and a dancer, graphic artist, sculptor and performance artist. Smith called him a “marvelously articulate and engaging speaker” who has contextualized his artistic choices to diverse audiences.

Texas Tech students may attend Cave's keynote address from 1-2 p.m. Oct. 2 in the ballroom of the Student Union Building.

The conference will end with a performance Saturday night entitled “Performance as Research as Performance.” Wesley, Gelber, Flueckiger and Smith all have collaborative pieces as part of “Performance as Research as Performance” from 8-11 p.m. Saturday at LHUCA's  Firehouse Theatre, 511 Ave. K.

Research as performance is the presentation of time-based creative work to a live audience, said Heather Warren-Crow, an assistant professor of art at Texas Tech. This performance will favor movement-based methods by local, regional and out-of-state practitioners and will include a question-and-answer session after the performances. Members of the public interested in how artists can change the way society views academic research may find it interesting, she said.

“There are two ways to think about this research,” Warren-Crow said. “The first is the performance is a way of disseminating the research, of spreading the word – the performance is like a publication in the flesh. The second is the performance and its development are process-based research, a kind of lab experiment that is eventually written about in some fashion.”

For more information on the conference, go to the Arts Practice Research conference website.