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Meadows Art Students and Dallas Artists Co-Commissioned by the Texas Biennial and Ballroom Marfa for a Special Project for the 2013 Exhibition

Open Studio: Every Person is a Special Kind of Artist, with Baggage will be on view beginning September 5 (San Antonio) and September 14 (Marfa) through November 9, 2013

Photography © 2012 Michael Corris

In late 2012, Meadows Art Professor Michael Corris was approached by Texas Biennial curator-at-large Virginia Rutledge to create a work for the 2013 edition of the exhibition. The project was to be co-commissioned by the Biennial and Ballroom Marfa, the center for the public exploration of contemporary art and culture in Marfa, Texas. 

Corris proposed a project that would involve SMU art students working collectively. The project was undertaken in one of the Division of Art’s innovative first-year core courses, ASAG 1312 Systems. 

“Systems in art are a set of rules or constraints that function as a ‘machine’ for making art,” said Corris. “In this course, students explored a wide range of systematic art practices, from the elegant serial works of Impressionism to art that incorporates models taken from communication theory and the study of language. They also explored the concept of systems in art drawn from the realm of social and political theory, where the work of the artist may be done in collaboration with others, in order to critically reflect on the social relations that define and channel ‘creativity.’ ” 

During the spring 2013 semester, Corris and the students worked together as part of a group to realize a complex, systems-based work of art. The group was dubbed “The Dallas Collective” and included Corris,  M.F.A. students William Binnie (’14), Travis LaMothe (’13) and Melissa Tran (’14), Dallas artists Kelly Kroener and Mike Morris, and undergraduate students Soraya Abtahi, Braeden Bailey, Jenna Barrois, Nina Davis, Michael Deleon, Elainy Lopez, Alexandra Monroe, Rhyanna Odom, Ellen Smith, Hannah Tyler and Dylan Wignall. 

The completed commission – Open Studio: Every Person is a Special Kind of Artist, with Baggage– consists of a limited edition of 50 vinyl carry bags and a 10-minute video featuring student interviews and candid scenes of the creation of the work. Proceeds from the sale of the bags, which are $65 each, will be donated to art programs for schoolchildren in Marfa and San Antonio. 

The commission will be on view at Ballroom Marfa from September 14 through November 9, 2013. Corris will deliver a public talk on the project at 6 p.m. on September 14 at the Highland Annex near the Ballroom. It will also be on view, with half of the bags and the accompanying video, at the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum in San Antonio, from September 5 through November 9. 

The artists would like to acknowledge the support of the Doolin Fund (Division of Art, SMU), and an anonymous donor.

The commissioned project is not the only SMU connection with the 2013 Texas Biennial. Meadows Associate Professor of Art Noah Simblist served as one of the Biennial’s 15 curators statewide, and Meadows art alumni Matthew Cusick, Kristen Cochran and Kevin Todora and current M.F.A. student Melissa Tran are participating in the Texas Biennial group survey exhibition at the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum.

Ballroom Marfa is located at 108 E. San Antonio St./Highway 90 West, Marfa, Texas, 79843. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Admission is free; however, a $5 donation is suggested to help fund Ballroom programs. For more information, visit Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum is at 116 Blue Star, San Antonio, Texas, 78204. Hours are 12-8 p.m. Thursday and 12-6 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Admission is $5; free on Thursdays from 4-8 p.m. and on the first Friday of every month from 6-9 p.m.; and, during the Biennial, free on Sundays.  For more information visit

About the Texas Biennial
The Texas Biennial is an independent survey of contemporary art in Texas, founded to create an exhibition opportunity for all artists living and working in the state. This fall, the Biennial celebrates its fifth anniversary with a range of exhibitions and other programming at venues in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Marfa and San Antonio.  For more information, visit

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