‘Another Green World’ Contributors Discuss Art, Nature and the Urban Environment

Grace Dickens

Tendrils of yarn may make for an interesting game of cat and mouse, but for artist Brooke Frank, they represent borders, forests and canyons. 

Featuring the diverse work of Frank and four other young female artists, the  “Another Green World”  exhibit at the Visual Arts Center explores the complex relationship between art, nature and the urban environment. The exhibit will run until Oct. 20. The following gives the artists’ backstories on some thought-provoking pieces.

MARTA LEE: Painter 

Lee graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in painting from UT, and is currently working as a lecturer for UT and St. Edward’s University. She contributed three paintings to the exhibit, one of which, called “Shrubs and Flags,” is based on the UT Tower. This piece features the U.S. and Texas flags on the main mall.

“All of my work comes from my environment,” Lee said. “I am drawn to certain kinds of things: run-down buildings, patterned tiles, painted-over graffiti. I think that by paying attention to these images, I can learn more not only about the environment, but also about why I am attracted to them.”

Lee said the symmetry of the main mall instantly drew her in. She said she is also interested in the myth that the Texas flag is the only state flag that can be flown at the same height as the U.S. flag, which she represented in her piece.

“I’m interested in this not because I’m interested in Texas, but because I’m fascinated by the fact that we still see height as a sign of respect,” Lee said. “This very primitive kind of logic is not that different from how I often think in the studio.”

ILIANA ORTEGA: Photography 

Ortega is an international visual artist based in New York City and holds a Master of Fine Arts from the Yale University School of Art. Ortega said she traveled to places such as Iceland to photograph landscapes that interested her particular focus on natural darkness. Ortega said she played with different orientations to make viewers question what they were looking at and used drawing to enhance certain parts of the photos. 

“When I saw the title, ‘Another Green World,’ I thought it was beautiful,” Ortega said. “We are in a critical situation politically …  with global warming … so the title itself represents some hope or action. This is scary, but we will find some way to make things work.”


The curator of the exhibition is art history Ph.D candidate Gilles Heno-Coe. He worked with former students and colleagues to combine works with common themes of landscape and the natural world into the exhibit. 

“There is this beauty in these terrible circumstances,” Heno-Coe said. “If there’s anything I appreciate about these artists, it’s their collective optimism. They’re not naive to the situations we’re dealing with today, but they find a way to incorporate it into their practice in a way that is pragmatic and optimistic, and I think we all need a little bit of that. I am grateful to have worked with so many young, talented artists and hope to do so again shortly.”

CHECK IT OUT: Upcoming Events 

There will be a talk Oct. 11 at 12 p.m. hosted by the Center Space Project featuring Heno-Coe and artists from the exhibit, as well as two faculty guest speakers from the art history and anthropology departments ­­— Michael Charlesworth and Anthony Webster. This talk and the exhibit are free and open to the public. 

Visual artist Beverly Acha and UT graduate student Renee Lai also made significant contributions to the exhibit. Lai will attend the Oct. 11 talk.