ACC Artist’s Show Off for the Austin Studio Tour

Not to be left out of the fun, Austin Community College held its own portion of the city wide Austin Studio Tour at its Highland campus during the first two weekends of November of the local event. Several students, staff, and alumni from various fine arts and digital media departments at ACC had rigorously prepared to participate.

By Isabella Strimple

This article was featured in the Fall 2023 issue of ACCENT Magazine.

The Austin Studio Tour is an annual event throughout Austin, Texas, which aims to celebrate Austin’s “vibrant art community and its journey of growth and transformation”. Every year and all around the city, local artists are given the chance to show off and sell their creative work and connect with the greater community. Again, for this year’s 30th iteration of the tour during three weekends of November, hundreds of different artists –  including painters, dancers, musicians, photographers, ceramicists, and more – partook in the festivities and showcased their different talents.

Not to be left out of the fun, Austin Community College held its own portion of the tour at its Highland campus during the first two weekends of November of the local event. Several students, staff, and alumni from various fine arts and digital media departments at ACC had rigorously prepared to participate.

“In many artistic practices, our processes happen in isolation from the public. It is not until the ‘final product’ that the work is made visible in a publication, gallery, performance, or production,” commented ACC Adjunct Dance Faculty member, Rebekah Chappell. “AST invites the community to engage with both process and product.”

When walking through Building 4000 of the Highland campus, attendees were met with many tables set up around the campus that displayed the students’ artistic works, including almost everything from paintings to jewelry to pottery. The pieces on display were being sold by ACC students and alumni alike in an art sale held on the campus from 1 p.m to 5  p.m every day of the event. 

Antonio Carmona III, a studio art major at ACC, was painting a self-portrait on a canvas in real-time using a painting technique known as grisaille, in which an artist paints with gray or neutral colors to imitate sculpture. “I thought participating in the Austin Studio Tour would be a good way to ‘show face’ and get more connected with the local art scene, being that I’ve never done anything like this before. It’s fun, it’s a new experience, [but it’s] definitely out of my comfort zone,” said Carmona. When asked what he planned to do with any funds he earned from selling his work at the art sale, Carmona divulged that any money earned would be “reinvested” back into his work.

 Another student, Gracie Miller, is in the continuing education program, and describes herself as a “self-taught” crocheter. At the studio tour, she was selling her colorful yarn and crochet work, which consisted of items such as hats, bags, and keychains. Like many other participants, it took Miller hours upon hours to create all of the pieces she had up for sale. “I’d like to start selling my crochet stuff more regularly, so this is just good practice for me… I’ve already sold a couple of things, which I was not expecting… so I think I’ll definitely do it again in the coming years…”

 Antonio Carmona III paints a self-portrait for the Austin Studio Tour event at ACC’s Highland Campus. Photo Taken by Kyle Sandiego on Nov. 4, 2023.

Also on display inside Building 4000 was the Art Gallery of Children’s Artwork from the Student Advocacy Center Department. Children of different ages and skills had their artwork on display for attendees of the tour. Riley and Marah, siblings of ages 11 and 7 years respectively, were both excited to have their work shown and at the event and each gave insight into their pieces.

To create his piece, Riley arranged crayons on his canvas and left them out in the sun until the crayon wax would melt into an eccentric design, while Marah, inspired by their family’s pets, created a “cute and cuddly” portrait of their cat and dog. After taking a moment to reflect, Marah stated that she wanted to show her piece at AST because, “it made [her] feel like when [she] grows up, [she] might become a famous artist.” Her mother confirmed her love for creating art over the years. “I love art. I’ve made a lot of art over the years,” agrees Marah. 

Siblings Marah and Riley pose in front of art they showcased with the Student Advocacy Center Department at ACC’s Austin Studio Tour event in the Highland Campus. Photo by Kyle Sandiego on Nov. 4, 2023.

Four “Dance Improv Jams” were held in Building 2000, one on each day of the ACC Austin Studio Tour and each led by a different professor. These improv sessions were particularly unique because they were open for the general public to join. As different types of music played in the dance studio, dance and non-dance students could be seen moving as they saw fit.

On the final day of ACC’s AST, a Barbie themed improv session was led by Adjunct Dance Professor Dawn Loring. “[Barbie themed improv] has been a very effective tool for understanding and experiencing embodiment, and it is also a great way to practice performing physical humor and while not breaking character,” Loring remarked.

The photography department of ACC spotlighted their Spring 2023 exhibition entitled “Through the Looking Glass,” found in Building 1000. The theme was inspired by the physical act of looking through glass when viewing photos in a picture frame. Photography Professor Bret Brookshire and ACCMe Member Reagan Ellis explained that it was chosen due to a desire for a theme that would allow room for creativity from the department’s large number of students.. The exhibition was actually curated by ACCMe, “a student run, commercial photography studio operating within the Department of Photographic Technology” according to the organization’s website. Pictures for the exhibition, after being submitted, had to be sorted, chosen, printed, and hung by ACCMe, which took many days of work altogether. Ellis revealed her hope for people who view the exhibition is that they realize “how much work students put into this.”

There were many other happenings taking place at the Highland campus for the Austin Studio Tour. Many departments gave demonstrations and tours of their studios, such as the jewelry department, where professors demonstrated how to cast jewelry, among other techniques, and the audio technology department, where professors gave tours of the sound studios and expounded on what students focus on within the program. The Art Galleries of ACC were also open during the event, displaying their current exhibit: Narrated Memories. Toye Peters, a local resident and an attendee of the school’s AST event, had high praise for Laurie Frick’s piece, Felt Personality, remarking how it “caught his eye.” Peters came to the event after happening to run across it whilst passing by the Highland campus and declared he would consider coming again next year. Right outside Building 4000, an aluminum pour demo was performed by ACC’s 3-D Art Club. Event guests were able to purchase an aluminum tile for $15, or $5 in the case of Design II students, and carve a design in which the aluminum would be poured, resulting in a mold of the design of hardened aluminum, as Doug Dawkins, a member of the club and studio art major, explained. Funds from the tiles sold for the event also went back into the 3-D Art Club. 

ACC students have a “Dance Improv Jam” at the Highland Campus during ACC’s event for the Austin Studio Tour. Photo taken by Collin Eason on Nov. 4, 2023.

Additionally on campus, students were put in charge of running several musical performances at the Flex Factory: Matthew Linder’s play, My Neighbor Teddy Roosevelt, was read by ACC’s drama department, musical compositions of ACC students were performed by ACC staff in the recital hall, and R.B., Austin Community College’s esteemed winged mascot, could even be found walking around the event, taking pictures with visitors, and striking up quirky poses. 

Nicole Dimucci, the Event and Outreach Coordinator of Arts and Digital Media for ACC, had this to say about ACC’s involvement in the Austin Studio Tour: “Bringing that event into our campus to show off our programs and student work has been essential to exposing our community to the expertise in the arts found here at ACC, and allowed our community members to connect with our student artists to support their work through purchasing their art, while also learning about opportunities to become students themselves at ACC. ” Future Attendees can expect the next Austin Studio Tour to take place sometime next fall.

For those interested in the Austin Studio Tour, check out the event website