Renowned Artist-In-Residence Teaches Smart Art


By Lisa Y. Garibay

UTEP News Service

Inside UTEP’s Fox Fine Arts Center, art students haven’t only been learning the A to Z of creating work. Thanks to local art leader Adrian Esparza and a new artist-in-residency program, students also are learning the business of being an artist.

Vincent Burke, Department of Art chair, had wanted to start a residency program for some time. “Some of my most valuable educational experiences came about through conversations I had with my professors in their studios while they were working,” he said. “I know I would not be where I am today were it not for those precious hours spent with my mentors. I wanted to create a space for this to happen at UTEP for our students.”  Burke knew exactly who he wanted as the pilot of this first-ever program for UTEP: Adrian Esparza, UTEP alumnus, El Paso native and world-renowned artist.

As a prior artist-in-residence elsewhere, Esparza had experience to offer from the Border Art Residency in La Union, N.M., and Artpace in San Antonio, and knew how to juggle the public and private expectations of such a position. He also had taught a number of classes within UTEP’s art department, including Basic Design, Basic Drawing and Life Drawing.


  “100” Photograph by Mariana Rivera at

The acclaimed creator made the residency work alongside previous commitments, including exhibits at The Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and the Pérez Art Museum Miami as part of PAMM’s AMERICANA: Formalizing Craft show.

Maintaining an open-door policy, Esparza’s duties throughout his 11-month residency (from September of 2013 through August of this year) have included the production of new work while he gives any student who drops in a firsthand look at how a professional artist schedules exhibitions, organizes time in order to meet deadlines, puts together press packets, works with curators and collectors, and crafts artist’s statements.

His guidance to students can be summed up very simply: “Be in the moment. This approach will produce work that justifies the next exhibition. Have a responsibility that establishes a reputation. Verbalize—the more you talk about your work, the better you get at producing it as well as explaining it and getting it out there. Then pull it off.”

To view a time-lapse video documenting Adrian Esparza’s work:

To read the complete story pick up a copy at OM Boutique at The Mix in Downtown El Paso.

Photos are courtesy of the artist Adrian Esparza.