Lasley receives President’s Distinguished Achievement Award in Performance, Creative Production, or Other Scholarly Achievement
Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Art History, Sarah Lasley, has received the President’s Distinguished Achievement Award in Performance, Creative Production, or Other Scholarly Achievement. Her thought-provoking and captivating digital works have not only received international acclaim but have also opened doors for her students to gain experience in the industry.
"To receive an honor such as this one for my creative research, in the midst of a pandemic that wreaked havoc on creative opportunities, means so much to me," says Lasley. "As a new faculty member arriving just before the school went into lockdown, this visibility is deeply affirming."
Despite only four semesters teaching at UTSA, Lasley has proven herself a rising star in the Department of Art and Art History. At the start of 2020, Lasley’s spring semester was already packed. Her work was featured in the CICA Museum’s Art Teleported Conference in New York City and the Luis Leu Gallery’s “New Media from San Antonio” exhibition in Karlsruhe, Germany.
Lasley also presented at the 108th College Art Conference, the largest national conference for art educators. Her short film, “The Imagemaker”, completed its festival run at the Eurocinema Film Festival in Geneva, Switzerland and the Worldwide Women’s Film Festival in Scottsdale, Arizona. When COVID-19 hit, however, Lasley had to switch gears.
Her creative spirit undeterred, Lasley shifted her efforts from a planned short film in Big Bend National Park to an autobiographical project. Filmed from her home using a green screen, a bungee cord, and the iconic love scene from “Dirty Dancing”, Lasley’s “How I Choose to Spend the Remainder of my Birthing Years” explores the relationship between isolation and paracosm.
The film was a breakout success. It was screened virtually at the Impact Theatre in New York City, The Casserole Series in North Carolina, Strangelove Time-Based Media Festival in London, The International Limestone Coast Video Art Festival by the Riddoch Arts & Cultural Festival in Australia, The 7th Art Festival of Miami and The Transient Visions Festival of the Moving Image by the Spool Contemporary Arts Center in New York.
Word even spread to Dirty Dancing’s writer and producer, Eleanor Bergstein, who expressed support of Lasley’s take on the film. Lasley presented her film at the inaugural online exhibition of Gallery Perchée in 2020. The film was also accepted into two internationally renowned and highly competitive festivals in early 2021: the Demetera International Short Film Festival in Paris and the Hungry Eyes Festival at Kultur im Zentrum in Germany.
Lasley takes great pride knowing that her film has resonated with such a large audience at a time when connection is needed most. For Lasley, her film’s success not only adds to her professional artist profile, but also proves to her students that you can still achieve success in the film world without budget or access.
Lasley takes every opportunity to help her students achieve success in the industry. She often networks with others in her field so that her students have opportunities to get their work featured. With Lasley’s film featured at many highly attended virtual programs, UTSA graduate students were able to attend. This exposed students to how programming for the festivals operated, an invaluable resource that would not be available if the events were held in person.
“Sarah is one of those rare faculty members that is able to blend her artistic practice and her teaching seamlessly into one reality,” says Gregory Elliott, professor and chair of the Department of Art and Art History. “She continually shares her accomplishments and process with her students and serves as an important example of how to achieve recognition and success in the field.”
Lasley’s desire to foster her student’s creative success can be further seen in her development of the DAVS (Digital Art Visualization Space), a space for students to shoot and install their work. Lasley has also developed UTSA’s first 3D animation course. She intends to turn this into an animation track within the New Media area of study.
The Performance, Creative Production, or Other Scholarly Achievement Award recognizes those individuals whose production in the arts or other appropriate disciplines has manifested unusual excellence and merit. Further, the production has also directly or indirectly benefited students and the university as well as the artistic or scholarly domain of the faculty member.