Dean's Welcome

Steven Block, Dean

The University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley is a new, young institution and like the Valley itself, the unprecedented College of Fine Arts is unique and a bit different. The vision of the College extends beyond the expected normalcy of training the future artists and visionaries who will rock the world. We aim to change the very foundation and preconceptions of what it means to be a writer, performer, visual artist, dancer, actor, or filmmaker – for one thing we recognize that the Arts are integrated in such a way that few artists solely remain specialists in one given area of expertise. So for instance, the ubiquitous theatre department at UTRGV becomes Theatre, Television, and Film in its vision, a program that recognizes the intersection of these Arts in modern society. Television is the latest invention of the three (ca. 70 years old) and yet acting, videotaping, production values, camera work, set design, and costuming, among other skills, all come into play within all three emphases. Creative Writing is traditionally subsumed within a liberal arts English program but the inclusion of our program within a College of Fine Arts recognizes that the art of the writer, itself manifested these days not only in books and poetry but in scripts, blogs, slams, and combined art forms like Hip Hop, encompasses so much more than words on a page. The School of Music offers the highest standards of musicianship and professional preparation but like the other programs in the College, Music goes beyond in providing the technical foundation for world-renowned college-level Mariachis, Ethnomusicology programs that develop interests in the region and music of the Americas, and performance opportunities that build and go beyond classical technique and understanding to the variety of world and popular music we listen to on a daily basis. Dance likewise provides all the classical and modern techniques needed to develop mastery for the college-level novice but Ballet Folklorico and Flamenco also take their rightful place in the Valley as equally important for the broadly educated dancer to master. A recent student performance by the Ballet Folklorico at the Kennedy Center to a wildly enthusiastic audience showed how central these lesser known dance forms are to our American traditions. The School of Art features a world-class Pre-Columbian and Viceregal Latin American Art History program with prominent faculty members at the helm of these programs as well as in studio art, graphic design, and photography to name a few. We will go beyond the traditional confinement of “the arts” as we grow and develop new relationships with medicine, engineering, psychology, and business among many other disciplines with which the Arts are intersecting these days. At UTRGV we apply the word “diversity” not only to the fine faculty serving as models for students to aspire to, but to the innovational education we offer as a 21st Century College of Fine Arts.

In the Valley we are proud of our legacy and take joy in the unique cultural and artistic gifts we offer to our students, tempered and toughened by high standards, and especially to all Texas citizens. Two former institutions in the Rio Grande Valley now combine to form a greater whole with one of the results being the first College of Fine Arts in the region. Come and explore our webpages and see the breadth and beauty of what we do. Viva la diferencia!