Tyler Junior College art professor Philana Oliphant Pace has been chosen as an exhibitor for the sixth edition of the Texas Biennial, a geographically focused exhibition of contemporary art.
Oliphant is one of 33 artists selected from among 1,217 applicants from a statewide open call.
The Texas Biennial, which runs Sept. 30-Nov. 11 at 211 E Alpine Rd., in Austin, celebrates the many cultures and identities that influence and impact our daily lives across the state. Since its inception in 2005, the Biennial has offered exhibition opportunities to over 250 artists, brought work to new audiences, and launched careers and artistic development.
Oliphant, a graduate of Plainview High School and the University of Texas at Tyler, joined the TJC art faculty in 2010. She and her husband, James Pace, also an artist and art professor, share a studio.
‘A huge honor’
TJC Art Department Chair Derrick White invited Texas Biennial curator and art director Leslie Moody Castro to Tyler and introduced her to Philana and other area artists.
Oliphant said she was shocked by her selection to the Biennial.
“It is a huge honor to have been selected, and the high caliber of the show’s curator adds a dimension to that honor,” she said. “It was very special that she came out to our studio, and one of the things I enjoyed about talking with her is that she understood it – what I was saying visually.”
Three of Oliphant’s sculptures were selected, including one titled “Yesterday,” which incorporates several pieces of art into one. One piece is a drawing from last fall; one piece is from earlier this year; another part was originally crafted more than two years ago.
“It took years to make, but I wasn’t constantly making it,” she said of the piece’s progression. “Pretty much everything is like that. In some ways it took three to four years; in some ways it took a month.”
On her TJC experience
Oliphant has taught every age group from kindergarteners through adults, but she said TJC has been a great fit because she identifies with the students.
“I’m really happy here, I think partly because I was a similar student,” she said. “I was one of the first in my family to go to college. My family was encouraging, but it was difficult to go to school.
“I understand what’s it’s like for a lot of the students here in a similar situation. I try to help them prioritize and help them understand how much a college education is going to help them in the big picture and learn ways to hang in there and stay.”
Maggie Pierce, a TJC art major who plans to transfer to a four-year university next semester, is definitely one whom Philana has prepared for the next level.
“Mrs. Pace is a professor who will not give up on students even when they want to give up on themselves,” Pierce said. “Time and time again, she has brought such highly skilled and quality work out of her students that they previously thought were beyond their capabilities. The impact Mrs. Pace has made on me is one that will continue for the rest of my artistic career and life.”
Philana is also highly respected by her peers, including Dave Funk, TJC Presidential Honors director and art professor.
“It’s really difficult to express comprehensively what Philana Pace does physically, pedagogically, and aesthetically for the TJC Art Department,” Funk said. “It’s no surprise, at least to those of us that work with her, that she was chosen for the Texas Biennial. Anywhere you look in one of her pieces, she rewards you for going there.”
There are 78 Texas Biennial Participating Organizations throughout Texas, including TJC, who will have scheduled events throughout 2018. The events will incorporate special artist talks and lectures, designated works by Texas artists on display, temporary exhibitions of work by one or more local artists, and highlighted exhibitions featuring contemporary Texas artists. Information about the TJC exhibit will be announced at a later date.
For information on TJC Art program, go to www.tjc.edu/art. To learn more about Philana Oliphant Pace’s work, go to www.philanaoliphant.com. For more on the Texas Biennial, go to www.texasbiennial.org.