NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The School of Art at Stephen F. Austin State University has announced that Erik Ordaz, Master of Fine Arts graduate and previous adjunct professor at SFA, is the new exhibition coordinator for The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House in downtown Nacogdoches and a visiting lecturer in the School of Art.
Ordaz will serve as a liaison between the School of Art and the East Texas community in planning and scheduling local, national and international exhibitions that will show in Cole Art Center as well as community events that will take place in SFA’s historic downtown art center. The position was made possible through community-raised financial support with SFA covering the portion related to teaching courses.
“When word got out in the community last fall that the gallery staff would be part of the reduction-in-force, cost-saving measures at the university, the response from the community was overwhelming support for the gallery and for preserving the ability to enjoy and promote the visual arts in Nacogdoches,” said Chris Talbot, director of the School of Art. “I am so glad we have so many people here in the community that love the visual arts and are willing to give of their time and means to make sure that it is something that will continue to enrich our community. So many generous donors came forward to save the day; it really makes me proud of our community and thankful for our wonderful Friends of the Visual Arts organization that coordinated the fundraising efforts.”
In addition to teaching ceramics, Ordaz teaches professional practices to studio art students. In this course, students learn how to become professional exhibiting artists. They learn how to properly hang, ship and handle artwork, and they learn how to promote themselves and deal with professional galleries.
“Having Erik teach the course allows us to use the Cole Art Center as a learning laboratory for our students to observe professional artwork up close,” Talbot said. “Students are involved in hanging the work and preparing the exhibitions. We want the gallery program to be an integral part of preparing students to be successful artists, and Erik is helping us accomplish that goal.”
Prior to coming to SFA to pursue a master’s degree in ceramics, Ordaz, who is originally from Mexico, was associated with the second-best ranked Mexican public university, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico City, where he traveled to pottery communities throughout Mexico to help artisans incorporate design concepts that translated into better and safer production practices. In doing that, Ordaz visited the town of Casa Grandes in Chihuahua where he met SFA ceramics Professor Piero Fenci who suggested Ordaz apply to SFA to continue his ceramics studies.
“Coming to SFA was a bit of a coincidence, but as it turned out, a great and amazing coincidence,” Ordaz said.
Coming to Nacogdoches from Mexico four years ago to complete his master’s degree, Ordaz said he looked forward to living in a different culture.
“My goal was to make the best of my time in grad school,” he said. “Little did I know then that I would find such a heartwarming community and a beautiful town and school in which to develop my work. Nacogdoches now feels like home, and to me that’s a testament to the tight community we have here. Having that feeling of being in a place that has your back makes me happy, and that’s one of the things I enjoy most about being here.”
Ordaz considers himself to be “a multifaceted artist,” and he plans to put that attribute to work while fulfilling his role as exhibition coordinator.
“I have nurtured my own connections while living in this country, plus the ones I have back home in Mexico, and I plan to put those to good use,” he said. “The Cole Art Center and the Nacogdoches community can be great recruiting tools for the School of Art, and we need to take advantage of that. I hope to bring more national and international recognition to the town and to SFA.”
His new job as exhibition coordinator takes Ordaz out of his “comfort zone,” but it also brings new and exciting challenges, he said.
“Having the ability to be a link between SFA, the School of Art, our faculty and students and the community is a privilege,” Ordaz said. “Planning for events and shows to bring to Nacogdoches is incredibly exciting. The possibility to showcase artists from my home country and even Latin America, alongside great local and national artists, as has been a tradition at Cole Art Center, can be enriching for all of us.
“Being in the position where I can send the message that everyone is welcome at the Cole, just as I have been, fills my heart with hope that art can be an epicenter and a spark that brings our community closer together,” he added.
The community will have an opportunity to meet Ordaz during the Friends of the Visual Arts Annual 12 X 12 Art Scholarship Fundraiser from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, at Cole Art Center, 329 E. Main St. For more information, call (936) 468-5500.