As an assistant professor of art at The University of Texas at Tyler, Dewane Hughes considers himself more of a maker than an artist.
“I never took an art class until my sophomore year in college,” Hughes said. “I was the kind of person who was drawn towards the creative element. I think of myself as somebody who’s just a maker of things.”
Finishing his second year at UT Tyler, Hughes said he enjoys the creativity.
“This position here gives me an opportunity to focus more on sculpture. And everyone here, they are all very appreciative of what my colleagues and I am doing on campus,” Hughes said.
Using various materials for his sculptures, whether it is wood, metal, neon lights or plastic, Hughes’ work is definitely known by his use of components.
“You may have a specific idea on what you want to build, but I remain really open to a dialogue with the material,” Hughes said. “Your mind wanders down a different path, or you’re refining the idea. I like the idea that art can be something that is a spectacle, the way a carnival is a spectacle.”
The “spectacle” he is most associated with, Hughes says, would be the one in the R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center, created to celebrate its 10-year anniversary.
“It’s eye-catching. It took about three-and-a-half weeks of pretty extensive labor. I presented some sketches dealing with the idea of celebrating. I used imagines of machines and industrial equipment and mixed those sorts of icons together. There’s a celebratory appeal every time you go see a production there. But I also thought, ‘What really goes on over there?’ There is a whole of machine work, a whole lot of labor. I thought that was a pretty in-depth metaphor.”
But that’s not how his work came to be known around campus, Hughes explained.
“I presented a piece in the art faculty show when I got here,” Hughes said. “Dr. (Richard) Osborn came to the show and he saw it and liked it, and I said, ‘Your office would be a great place to put that,’ and so he did. The next thing I knew, I had pieces in the conference room, the president’s office and the executive conference room.”
Hughes current project on campus will be for the UT Tyler Robert Muntz Library.
“It will incorporate light, but it will also incorporate motion,” Hughes said. “I thought, ‘What is a library?’ Well, it’s a giant house of all this information … It’s just how I view information and what’s important to me.”
Hughes said he hopes his students take away lasting ideas with them.
“I ask my students at the end of the day, ‘Did you make something? Did you build something?’ It’s all about building things, making things, taking things apart and putting things back together.”
One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 70 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of nearly 6,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.