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Houston's Contemporary Art Connection at Blaffer Art Museum

By Allison Wilson

The Blaffer Art Museum is a pillar of contemporary art in the Houston area. Presenting internationally touring exhibits as well as the most interesting and significant local artists, the museum's affiliation with the University of Houston and free programming allows an ever-expanding audience to discover and appreciate art and culture.

Blaffer Art Museum exhibits, such as the upcoming Mirrors for Princes by the Berlin-based art collective Slavs and Tatars (Jan. 15-March 19), attract cultural tourism to Houston, where visitors go on to discover the city's other great museums and galleries. Local artists who have showcased at the museum include conceptual-visual artists Mel Chin and the Austin-based duo Teresa Hubbard/Alexander Birchler, whose video, photography and sculpture collaborations explore narrative time and space.

"We want to expose the UH community and the city to some of the most interesting artists working today, and our location at a leading public research university and our relationships across campus enable us to connect contemporary art to many other disciplines," says Devon Britt-Darby, Public Affairs Director at the Blaffer Art Museum."We're often UH students' first exposure to contemporary art and what the city's art scene has to offer."

Students also get the opportunity to learn more through free gallery talks with artists, curators and scholars, during which lunch is also served for free, and an ambitious roster of lectures, performances and discussions. Students can get even more involved through joining the Blaffer Art Museum Student Association, internships at the museum, or, if they live in the dorms, participating in hands-on Art in Residence programs.

In addition to showing artists doing some of the most innovative, experimental work in their disciplines, the museum collaborates with other departments and colleges across the UH campus on programming and, in some cases, research. For example, visitors to the exhibits can help UH neuroscientists learn about what happens in the brain as they look at art through Your Brain on Art, a collaboration with the university's Cullen College of Engineering.

"As they view our exhibitions, visitors check out headsets fitted with electrodes to track their brain activity," Britt-Darby says. "Neuroscientists stand to learn more about how the brain works; we stand to learn more about the visitor experience; and visitors stand to gain some insight into their own minds while enjoying some great art. Everybody wins!"

The Blaffer Art Museum is located at 4173 Elign Street and is free and open to the public from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

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Allison Wilson is an award-winning writer and communications professional whose...

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