London-born artist Tim Bavington, '99 MFA, joined the UNLV art department faculty this semester. His music-inspired works have become part of the permanent collections of museums across the country, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Hi latest work, a mural design done along with fellow alumnus Sush Machida, '02 MFA, is on view at the Emergency Arts Building for the Life is Beautiful festival.
Audrey Barcio, a current MFA student, recently interviewed Bavington for a series she's doing on the art faculty.
Some people listen to music, or the radio on the way to work. What did you fill your mind with on your way into your new job at UNLV today?
I was thinking of how to sequence the drawing course I'm teaching, what order should things be taught.
You earned a Masters in Fine Art from UNLV in 2000. Could you talk about what factors initially drew you to the program?
A teacher I had in California at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, where I went for undergrad, introduced me to (former professor and art critic) Dave Hickey. Dave talked me into coming here. A studio at that time sounded pretty good. I was working in my garage, and it seemed like a no-brainer. Looking back now, having someone like Dave Hickey tell you to join the program is pretty important; you should listen to that. "
Aside from the fact that you were a student then, and you're teaching now, what are some of the differences you are noticing between the MFA program then vs. the program today?
I have yet to see with some studio visits lined up this week. I noticed that the studios have moved into a old fast food restaurant, that's quite a big difference. It's something I'm looking forward to finding more about. There was a really good gang of us here having a great time when Dave was here, I hope that something similar is going on with the group here.
Describe your relationship with the visual landscape of Las Vegas.
"When you have been here so long you sort of forget about it, it's normal for you. It's a different kind of normal than other cities in the states. There is a connection to it and my work but I haven't quite been able to put my finger on it.
For artists it ups the ante for the visual, if you are going to make work in this environment then you have to compete with visual environment around you."
Aside from interacting with art objects, what is your favorite aesthetic experience to have in Las Vegas?
I think the best aesthetic I like is the James Turrell installation at the Louis Vuitton store on the strip. That's amazing; it's the best aesthetic experience in town.
What factors have compelled you to return to UNLV to teach at this time?
I've had a commercial career and a long fine art career. It's been 25 years out since I got my BFA and it seems like this is the natural course of life for an artist. I never really wanted to teach, but then all of sudden something clicks where you realize you could give something back. I remember great teachers -- like the one who introduced me to Dave Hickey -- that changed my life.
Art professors are legacy builders. What specific intentions do you have for influencing the aspiring artists you will be interacting with as a professor UNLV?
Specifically, one of the things I'm very interested in, and I feel about art education all over, is that the subject of color is incredibly underserved. Art education is underserved everywhere, but within that, color is really not taught. It's part of a class here and there, but not a whole class. I'm going to write a curriculum for color theory. Vegas is a great place for color, not only for the light, but a great city where you can actually study color in. Everyone needs to know how to use color, but that's my thing. I'm biased.