Texas A&M University-San Antonio is one of 20-plus locations presenting sculptures by Mexican artist Enrique Carbajal, who goes by Sebastián.
The Department of Art and Culture of San Antonio is hosting a new city-wide exhibition with more than 100 works of art in various locations, including universities, libraries, museums and the San Antonio International Airport.
The university displays four abstract sculptures in front of the modular buildings, behind the Central Academic Building.
Trevor Liddle, director of operations for Business Affairs at A&M-San Antonio, said the Department of Art and Culture reached out to President Cynthia Teniente-Matson and that the university thought it was a great opportunity to bring the San Antonio culture to campus.
Liddle said the sculptures were installed in late September and the final piece was installed around October.
“This was a fast process. We went from zero to 60 in a snap of a finger,” Liddle said.
The city-wide exposition will run until May 2020.
Liddle said the university will have the sculptures for a longer period and that they are working with the artist and his foundation, to come to the final terms of how long the campus will be able to have Sebastián’s art on display.
Sebastián visited San Antonio for the new exhibit opening at the Mexican Cultural Institute on Oct. 17.
Sebastián said it was an honor to be in San Antonio exhibiting his works of art. He said the Torch of Friendship, a red, 65-foot-high sculpture displayed in downtown San Antonio, is an icon of the city and one of his great achievements.
“It no longer belongs to me; it belongs to the citizens of San Antonio,” he said of the Torch of Friendship. “Exhibiting in San Antonio with this crowd, with so many pieces and in so many spaces is truly an honor for a Mexican.”
Sebastián said the exposition is showcasing different years of his life and that he’s celebrating 50 years of his career and 50 years of working.
“Many works of art that are here are from different eras give an idea of my work of what I do and what I conceive,” he said.
Arturo Infante Almeida, UTSA Libraries Art Collection curator, said the city selected him to curate and choose exhibit locations across the city.
“He’s opening the doors for a lot more well-known artists to come to San Antonio,” Almeida said of Sebastián. “We have that already but with Sebastián it’s going to open bigger doors.”
Jeanette De Diemar, vice president for University Advancement and External Relations, said having the sculptures on campus is a win-win, providing access to culture for the community and university.
“It was the university’s ability to seize the moment, because of the infrastructure and the interest in recognizing the value that Sebastián and the sculptures would bring to the Southside of San Antonio,” De Diemar said.
Ben Brandvig, kinesiology-pre physical therapy senior, said it’s a good idea to have art pieces and art installations around campus. He said it creates a better atmosphere but wishes the sculptures were in a more prominent area of campus.
“It’s confusing as to why they are at the back of the campus and not in the front area where they would be visible. I think they’re hidden back there. I don’t know many people that actually go behind campus rather than up front,” he said.
Liddle said he selected the site based on a number of things. He said putting the sculptures there livened up the area for people who work and congregate behind CAB.
“One of those was the ability for the community to be able to come on campus and not have to get out of their car or take a valuable parking space to go and see them,” he said.
Liddle said the sculptures are also welcoming pieces for the new front door of the academic administrative building that’s currently under construction.
“Plus it was the easiest place to install them,” he said.
Liddle said most places got one sculpture, and other than the airport, the greatest number of sculptures are here at A&M-San Antonio.
“They were all hand selected based on where we thought it would fit in with the campus,” he said. “It’s very exciting to be able to bring that space to life.”
Biology freshman Erin Sanchez said she’s always in the back of CAB since she works in the modular buildings.
“I think it is a great thing to have the sculptures on campus. It brings brightness to the community and it gives us something to look at that’s pretty,” she said.
Liddle said being a part of the city-wide exposition with other colleges and universities “allows students to see how we’re working together for the common good.”
“Come out and look at them. They’re pretty amazing, the detail and thought that goes into what it is and the fact that some of it is abstract allows the mind to wander and explore. That’s the beauty of art,” he said.