It’s a Dallas Day, Part 2: Brittany Ransom

April 29, 2014 · Print This Article

Over the coming months, the Bad at Sports blog is featuring quick glimpses of the art world as it exists in smaller cities across the country and around the world. Each glimpse is byway of some of the said city’s local characters, which include but are not limited to artists, curators, creative writers, and critics. In this Dallas Day article, artist Brittany Ransom dishes on what she, a recent Midwesterner-cum-Dallasite, finds exciting about the Big D. 

View from Dallas' Reunion Tower

View from Dallas’ Reunion Tower

Dallas Is Hot

Guest post by Brittany Ransom

I arrived in Dallas in the fall of 2011 and my first thought was “Dallas is hot.” I happened to move here just in time to land in the middle of a sweltering 60-something day streak of temperatures climaxing over 100 degrees. There was not a cloud or drop of rain in sight. I moved to Dallas to work as an assistant professor in the Division of Art at SMU specializing in Digital/Hybrid Media. After a few years, I now see my role at-large, as both an artist and educator, as straddling many lines institutionally and within my work. My practice depends on being able to regularly engage with engineers, scientists, technology enthusiasts, other artists, and the insects in my back yard (often my favorite collaborators in the mix).

As a born and raised Midwesterner, I naively had never heard the term “metroplex”, which is the word that is used to commonly refer to the greater Dallas/Fort Worth area. Now that I call Dallas my home and the place where I continue to build my art practice, I am invested in this metroplex and its ‘scenes’ in numerous ways. I am often asked by new acquaintances and former colleagues (most those based in the Midwest) where I live and work. I am frequently met with seemingly questionable gazes when I respond “Dallas.” These gazes are generally followed by vague responses that include something to the affect of “Oh, I hear Austin is cool…” And while Austin, Houston, and San Antonio (among many other Texas cities) are also ripe with artists and institutions doing interesting things (the Texas Biennial was a good survey of contemporary art happening throughout Texas this year)there are a number of things that have made me come to appreciate the heat in Dallas.

Natalie Leduc's "Eternal Miss Texas Biennial" performance at Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum for the 2013 Texas Biennial opening reception

Natalie Leduc’s “Eternal Miss Texas Biennial” performance at Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum for the 2013 Texas Biennial opening reception

Dallas is filled with so many driven visionaries, emerging and established spaces, studios, and collectives that it is impossible to name them all here. Important to me are a handful of experiences and resources that I think point to the upward growth of Dallas. This city is undoubtedly filled with many ‘big hitter’ institutions, such as the Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, Kimball Art Museum, and the Ft. Worth Modern, among others. I can say that I have had a lot of active engagement with the Dallas Museum of Art and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, both of which have given me the opportunity to expand my exhibition portfolio as well as my practice. Currently, I am working on a digital mural project with the Team Dallas Learning Lab, a group made up of students from local high schools, all of who are interested in exploring the intersections of science and art. Team Dallas Learning Lab brings in artists like me as guides to produce work that promotes knowledge and skill sharing. More importantly, the model employed by this group encourages various concentrations of creative practices to come together through experimentation and risk-taking. These types of programs exists at institutions throughout the city, and they are instrumental in helping artists engage a multitude of audiences.

Conceptualization of digital mural at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science created with images captured from handmade microscopes for mobile devices in collaboration with the DMA and Teen Learning Lab Council.

Conceptualization of digital mural at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science created with images captured from handmade microscopes for mobile devices in collaboration with the DMA and Teen Learning Lab Council.

As an artist specifically working with(in) “New Media” (dare I use that term…), I do find Dallas (like a lot of small cities) to be a bit behind the times; however, it’s showing promise by supporting artists who use code/computing/digital technologies within their work. The increase in these areas has definitely been at the forefront of many of the universities in town. I find myself among a great number of smart and exciting artists who are also working in New Media and the need for spaces to support this type of work to be growing. I have participated in events like Dallas Aurora since its initial debut in 2011, and it is becoming a truly exciting event that allows artists from all over the world to use the Arts district as a space for interactive video, sound, and performance-based work.  There are other spaces and collectives, too, which support emergent disciplines and practices– Oliver Francis Gallery, Beefhaus, and Womanorial, to name a few, have been progressively curating physical and online exhibitions that exist beyond the typical ‘white cube’ shows that one might see in the city’s more mainstream design district.

Michael A. Morris' "Third Hermeneutics" media performance at the Dallas Contemporary as part of Alive for 35. Image courtesy of Melissa Tran.

Michael A. Morris’ “Third Hermeneutics” media performance at the Dallas Contemporary as part of Alive for 35. Image courtesy of Melissa Tran.

Brittany Ransom and Melissa Tran's "Nervous Bodies," a site-specific installation projected onto the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas for Aurora: Light of Convergence, 2013

Brittany Ransom and Melissa Tran’s “Nervous Bodies,” a site-specific installation projected onto the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas for Aurora: Light of Convergence, 2013

Cheon Pyo's "Chinese Waterfall," 2014, as part of the "Dark Magnets" exhibition at Oliver Francis Gallery

Cheon Pyo’s “Chinese Waterfall,” 2014, as part of the “Dark Markets” exhibition at Oliver Francis Gallery

Of course, this post presents just a skimming of what has been important to me as an artist, especially one who is relatively new to Dallas. Regardless, I will give this statement in summation: I have found Dallas to be a city that is refreshing in its willingness to support local artists, to take risks that make artists’ ideas and visions come to fruition, and to create a community of people who are genuinely interested in and supportive of each others’ work. It may be hot here, but I can say that I am happy to be in the heat of Dallas right now.

Brittany Ransom is an artist and educator who creates interactive installations, electronic art objects, and site specific interventions that strive to probe the line between human, animal, and environmental relations while exploring emergent technologies. Using technology as a material, Ransom’s work introduces concepts exploring the conflicted relationships between our culture, the concern for nature, and the way we interact with the natural world. She explores the paradoxical bond between human, nature, its inhabitants and the co-evolution between the living and budding technological innovationwhile questioning these technologies. Ransom’s work invites the viewer to question how technology can concurrently invent, destroy, enshroud, and expose itself within our shared environments. Ransom is currently serving as the Assistant Professor of Digital/Hybrid Media + Art at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and works with(in) the Center for Creative Computation. Ransom received her Master of Fine Arts Degree with a focus in New Media Arts (formerly known as Electronic Visualization) from the University of Illinois at Chicago in May of 2011. She is the recipient of the Arctic Circle Research Residency (2014), is a College Art Association Fellow (2011), two time recipient of the Lincoln Fellowship (2010 & 2011), the Provost Award recipient at UIC (2011), and has won numerous awards throughout her emergent career. Prior to her time in Dallas and Chicago, Ransom lived and worked in Columbus, Ohio. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with distinction in Art and Technology from The Ohio State University in 2008. She has exhibited her work both nationally and internationally and has been featured in several publications. 

 

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