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Breaking the Rules

Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Photo by Allyson Huntsman Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Partnership with Glassell School of Art Offers Pathway to Houston’s Inspired Art Scene

Situated in the heart of Houston’s vibrant art community, with dozens of art galleries, studios and museums within a 5-mile radius, the University of St. Thomas has tremendous legacy as a magnet for acclaimed creative artists.

After decades of growing up together as neighbors, UST and the Glassell School of Art, teaching institute of the Museum of Fine Arts, forged a partnership in 1996.

“We credit UST with instigating our rise to university-level art instruction,” said Patrick Palmer, Glassell dean. “Today, each of our instructors has an MFA and participates actively in the Houston art community.”

The partnership is equally beneficial to student artists, as Glassell offers rigorous visual art studies in a stunning new building just a few blocks away. Students get free access to works of the masters at the Museum of Fine Arts, one of the largest art museums in the United States.

Students graduate with either a Bachelor of Arts or a dual Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in studio arts. In collaboration with the required Art History program at UST, their development as artists occurs within a Catholic perspective, incorporating aspects of global art history from the classic to the contemporary working world.

“Glassell is the place to study art in this part of the world, and it will be for many years to come,” said Claire McDonald, head of UST Fine Arts & Drama.

Art is the expression of creative imagination, producing works of beauty and emotional power. With UST growing brighter and bolder by the day, our young artists are in perfect position to shine in the dazzling Houston art scene.

Glassell’s Head of Painting and Texas Artist of the Year Inspires UST Students

Francesca Fuchs

Francesca Fuchs

Department head for painting, head of the 2D department and painting instructor Francesca Fuchs has been recognized by Art League Houston as 2018 Texas Artist of the Year. During her extraordinary career, spanning almost three decades, Fuchs completed Glassell’s Core Residency Program from 1996–1998 and began teaching in 1998.

“What I love about Glassell is that we have such an inclusive community of students, ranging in age from teens to 90s, with an amazing diversity of backgrounds,” Fuchs said. “And I love teaching UST students. They’re very curious, dedicated, hard-workers.”

A well-known, Houston-based artist, Fuchs draws from historical art and personal references in her paintings, expressing themes of memory, family and home. Born in London and raised in Tübingen and Münster, Germany, Fuchs completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at London’s Wimbledon School of Art and finished her postgraduate work at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1995.

Studio Arts Major Selected as Summer Studios Resident

by Katie Fleming


Evan Coleman, a junior studio arts major, was one of seven resident artists chosen to participate in the Summer Studios program with Project Row Houses (PRH). Located in the historic Third Ward, PRH is a development community that comprises several shotgun-style houses. PRH works in many ways to help underprivileged members of Third Ward, and one of those ways is through giving artists a platform to engage with the community.

Evan Coleman

Evan Coleman

Summer Studios Resident

PRH’s Summer Studios program selects artists based on their nominations by professors. Coleman was chosen by PRH curator Ryan Dennis. During the six-week residency, Coleman was given a shotgun house in which she had to create an installation that aligns with PRH’s message of community and restoration. The program began June 20, and the artists showcased their projects on Aug. 11.

Coleman’s installation “Passive Distortions” was an examination of the psychology behind memory. Coleman drew her inspiration from the ideas that memories are malleable and that humans choose to view their pasts in a certain way. In addition, Coleman noticed that nostalgia is often glorified in today’s society.

“I linked nostalgia to a thinking error, like a cognitive distortion people have and that they run to because they have this yearning,” Coleman said, “but it’s a longing for something in the past that’s not there.”

An Artist at UST

“Passive Distortions” InstallationAs a studio arts major, Coleman discovered UST’s art classes are offered through the renowned Glassell School of Art, part of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

“The classes add the purest aspect: You have to take fundamental drawing and go through all these exercises and not use a ruler, but instead do things the traditional way,” she said. “The fact that the art classes are done through Glassell makes this school even more special, because it’s better than the programs at any of the other schools in Houston.”

Coleman, the daughter of UST alumnus Garnet Coleman ’90, attended three other colleges before coming to UST. She was drawn to the University because of its small size and its Catholic culture.

Studio Arts Major Follows Passion From Painting to Pilates

by Katie Fleming

Krista Karbalai’s one-artist show “Shh”

Krista Karbalai’s one-artist show “Shh”

As a student, Krista Karbalai ’13 bounced from one major to another before discovering she could pursue her passion for painting as a studio arts major. At the Glassell School of Art she took a variety of classes such as printmaking, jewelry making and sculpting, and she was the first student to graduate with a dual Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of St. Thomas.

“Plenty of people will tell you that your passion will not yield a ‘real career,’” Karbalai said. “The thing I’ve realized is that you should always choose your passion, because if your heart’s not in it, it will feel like work every single day.”

Karbalai chose UST because of its small classes.

Krista Karbalai, Exiting Chapel, by Nash Baker

Krista Karbalai, Exiting Chapel, by Nash Baker

These classes, she said, gave her the opportunity to receive a more personalized education, one that allowed her to communicate with her professors and helped her avoid becoming just another number in a huge class. She found this carried over into the program at Glassell, where she was mentored by Patrick Palmer, now Glassell dean.

“Patrick Palmer was so incredible to me, and my time with him was invaluable,” Karbalai said. “At Glassell, you get so much feedback about your work, not just from your teacher but from your fellow artists.”

The creativity and expression Karbalai experienced in the Glassell School of Art transitioned to other areas of her life and helped her later follow her passion into a wellness career.

Along with her sister Kobra, Karbalai now owns and runs STRETCH Studio, where they offer yoga, pilates and cycling classes. Karbalai, a classically trained pilates instructor, said for her, the leap from painting to pilates was not as huge as people may think.

“Pilates is an art form in and of itself,” she said. “Looking at the body in front of me and deciding what is most needed to create symmetry and harmony within the body is my art.”

About the Author — UST Staff

AvatarThe UST staff strives to bring the most interesting, relevant and topical stories to our audience with each issue. These stories feature current UST students, alumni, professors, staff members and people we work with through our many partnerships. We hope you enjoy this glimpse of the UST community.

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