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Department of Visual & Dramatic Arts
Studio Art Alumni Spotlight


Matt JensenMatt Jensen
Studio Manager for Artist and Designer John-Paul Philippe
Brooklyn, NY
B.A., Rice University, 2002
M.F.A., University of Connecticut, 2008

Born in Northeast Connecticut, whose small mill towns were the birthplace of the industrial revolution. The layers of history embedded in the landscape set the backdrop for many of my current works. I worked in national, state and city politics for four years after graduating--living in Washington, D.C., Iowa, Wisconsin and NYC.
The phrase "conceptual landscape art" best describes the work I do. Landscape photography is a big component of my process but often the final works are not images. Each landscape series I develop uses landscape as metaphor and often involves recurring iconography: spruce trees, landscaped boulders, the sun, clouds, blue skies...  Nearly all of my projects require a lengthy and repeated presence in a landscape; walking and exploring are integral to my process.
The repetitive nature of my process lends to the seriality of each piece. Some projects and site-specific works have yielded collections of over 1,000 images.

Currently, I am in the middle of a two-year work titled, Nowhere In Manhattan (www.nowhereinmanhattan.org), a project that entails locating, exploring, documenting and eventually protecting, the last parcels of "nowhere" remaining in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. Homage to the American Place is a three-year, participant-based work that will begin sometime this year. The online component of the piece launched a few weeks: aon-linew.jensen-projects/homage).

More about Matt Jensen >> 

Richmond BurtonRichmond Burton
East Hampton, New York
B.A., Rice University, 1982
B.Arch, Rice University 1984

Satisfaction is completing a painting that takes you to a new place. Every move becomes italized, accentuated, saturated with intention and experience. A rush can seem like slow motion.  My paintings are my characters that I inhabit and make real. I am always there beside them. The synthesis of these two related entities is the result.
Motivated by his parents’ warnings about the difficulties of making it as an artist, Burton devoted his college education to the study of architecture. He spent two years in the architecture program at Auburn University before transferring to Rice in 1980.

Burton made the most of his time at Rice and in Houston. He recalls his studio art, art history, and architecture classes with Karin Broker, Bill Camfield, Gordon Wittenberg, Peter Papadimitrious, Bas Poulos, and visiting professor Michael Wilford as especially formative. Broker, who invited Burton back to Rice in 1999 to lead a master printmaking workshop, recalls Burton in his student days as “an amazing draftsman” who was “so wonderful to teach.”

As a transfer student, Burton lived on campus at Lovett College for only one semester and tended to spend more of his time at Will Rice with a group of “artsy” friends. Among the former members of this “little Saint Elmo’s Fire-style clique” are well-known installation artist Michael Petry ’81 and fashion designer Jim Mischka ’85 of the international sensation Badgley Mischka. In an odd coincidence, the February 2000 issue of Vogue features a photograph of art collector Yvonne Force in her home, modeling a slinky Badgley Mischka gown in front of a matching Burton painting, Itchy Landscape.
Burton became involved with what was then the Rice Museum, an exhibition space initiated by consummate arts patron Dominique de Menil in what is now the Rice Media Center. As a volunteer assistant, Burton helped unpack and hang the paintings for the 1982 Yves Klein retrospective at the museum. “That was really huge for a kid who grew up in Alabama and was totally salivating over the reproductions in the book. To actually have that level of familiarity with the paintings and see people hang them and go through the whole process . . . it was so amazing and a really big thing for me, and I’m very thankful to have had that experience.” Another highlight of his Rice experience was his participation in an archaeological dig outside of Rome in a 1983 summer course taught by Walter Widrig and Philip Oliver-Smith.

Though Burton professes to have always known he wanted to be an artist, he greatly values his architectural training at Rice. “The program at Rice is a great program, and they really seem to stress process. It’s something the art schools don’t teach enough, in my opinion. I think if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing, because my primary education was architectural and then I was studying art also. I really think my studio architecture classes taught me a lot about creativity.”
Burton’s rules for living are anything but abstract: “Rebel and question every step of the way. That’s what I did. It works. And don’t let them say no. Do it your own way and define your own terms. I’ve always lived by that credo.” As one of the rare individuals who has managed to mobilize his most animating and abiding passion into a professional life that not only sustains, but stimulates, Burton’s story carries a message that he doesn’t hesitate to voice. “I’m living proof, and I’m the first one to say it: you can live off of doing what you love. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s always been possible, and I’ve never lost sight of that.”

Maria Stalford, Sallyport Magazine, Rice University, Spring 2002
Photo by Will Ryan

Read more about Richmond Burton >>

Michael PetryMichael Petry
Director, Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), London
Curator, Royal Academy School Gallery, London
Independent Artist, Sundaram Tagor Gallery, New York and Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery, Houston

BA, Rice University, 1981
MA, London Guildhall Hall University
Ph.D. Candidate, Middlesex University
Michael Petry is an internationally exhibited multi-media artist, and co-director of the Museum of Installation, London. He was born in El Paso, Texas, and has lived in London since 1981.
Petry is the Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) London, and the curator of the Royal Academy Schools Gallery. In addition to temporary exhibitions and installations at several museums and galleries, such as the Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery, Houston, Petry’s works are included in public collections throughout the world including the Museum of Arts and Design, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Toledo Museum of Art, the British Museum, London; The National Collection, UK, the Kunst und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublick Deutschland, Bonn, the Bellerive Museum, Zurich, The New Art Gallery Walsall, UK, Rogaland Kunstmuseum, Stavanger, Norway, The Gallery of Art, Legnica, Poland and the Leopold Hoesch Museum, Duren, Germany.
Petry co-authored "Installation Art" (1994), and Installation Art in the New Millennium (2003), for Thames & Hudson and authored Abstract Eroticism (1996) and A Thing of Beauty is... (1997) for Academy Editions, part of John Wiley & Sons. The Trouble with Michael, a monograph of his current artistic practice was published by ArtMedia Press in 2001. Petry’s current book Hidden Histories: 20th Century Same Sex Male Lovers in the Visual Arts (2004) is the first comprehensive survey of its kind, and accompanies the exhibition Hidden Histories he curated for The New Art Gallery Walsall. His current book Golden Rain Volumes I & II is part of his exhibition of the same name for Ha gample prestegard's exhibition "On the Edge" for Stavanger 2008, European City of Culture. An e-version of the complete book is free to download from the On the Edge site. His work features in the new "Contemporary Glass" book by Black Dog Publishing.

Connie EstepConnie Estep
Associate Professor of Art (printmaking, painting, and drawing)
School of Art
Illinois Wesleyan University
Bloomington, IL

B.A., Art & Art History, Rice University, 1993
M.F.A., Pratt Institute
Constance Estep received her M.F.A. in printmaking and painting from Pratt Institute in New York and her B.F.A. from Rice University where she won five major awards for her art while completing her education. Connie teaches printmaking, drawing and painting. Her prints, drawings and paintings have been exhibited in juried shows such as, "The Prints and the Paper" at San Diego Art Institute, The Society of American Graphic Artists' 65th National Print Exhibition in New York, and the "Montreal International Visual Arts Competition" in Quebec. Connie is a runner and a dancer.

"Figurative in nature, my work deals with the interaction inherent within the boundaries of interpersonal relationships. An important theme that emerges is the self-sabotage that often occurs when individuals attempt to interact with one another. Also present is an intense desire to take jabs at the sometimes destructive ways in which we deal with each other at an intimate level. Because of my own particular take on these types of issues, humor becomes one of the most important elements within my visual commentary."