UNT Institute for the Advancement of the Arts (IAA)

The University of North Texas Institute for the Advancement of the Arts (IAA) was launched, along with UNT on the Square, on October 21, 2009. On the occasion of its opening, it was noted that the Institute's goal is to “further the university’s reputation for nurturing artistic and creative expression” by recognizing artistic contributions and sharing them with the public and enhancing the learning environment for UNT students.

These aspirations are encompassed in the Institute’s mission which is to showcase, support, and advance excellence in the visual, performing and creative literary arts at the University of North Texas, among its faculty members and in conjunction with their renowned colleagues and collaborators.

The IAA is an initiative of the offices of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Vice President for Research and Economic Development. Participating Colleges include the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Visual Arts and Design, and the College of Music. The Institute is housed at UNT on the Square.

The three central components of the Institute are UNT on the Square, the IAA Faculty Fellows program and the IAA Artist-in-Residence program.

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2014 - 2015 IAA Fellow Named

One faculty member will gather inspiration from nature when he completes projects as fellows in UNT's Institute for the Advancement of the Arts in the 2014-15 academic year.

Regents Professor of Studio Arts Harlan Butt will be granted a semester off from teaching duties to work on their projects full time.

For Butt, that project will be a series of artwork inspired by nature while camping and spending time at U.S. National Parks.

IAA fellowships are awarded following an application process and allow faculty members to create and present creative research projects. A list of past winners and their projects can be found on the IAA Emeritus Fellows site.

Harlan Butt

Butt has enjoyed hiking and camping since 1979, and in 2003 the metalsmithing professor combined those hobbies with his art for his National Parks Project. For the project, he took photos and sketched while camping and hiking at national parks in the U.S. Then, he went back to his studio and created vessels with intricate lids that reflected the sights he had seen at the parks.

The IAA fellowship will allow Butt to continue his series. He starts at the end of May when he heads to the north rim of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona to camp through the first two weeks of June. That will be followed by a camping trip to Glacier National Park in Montana and then Acadia National Park in Maine during the fall.

Although he typically creates two or three vessels that reflect his experiences at each park, Butt said he never goes into the parks with expectations. Each park is different and has its own character, so he allows himself the flexibility to express that. That flexibility can be seen in a tall, cylindrical silver and enamel vessel reminiscent of a cactus at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and, Butt’s favorite piece, a short, rounded silver and enamel vessel with outlines of bears across it and a lid of leaves and blueberries (which the bears he watched were eating).

The vessels from Butt’s National Parks Project have been exhibited locally at UNT on the Square and across the U.S. at the Appalachian Center for Crafts, National Ornament Metal Museum, James Madison University and other galleries. He expects the additional vessels he creates from this project to be exhibited at UNT on the Square and elsewhere.

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(Photo by Michael Clements / URCM)