Theresa Newsome (b. 1993) was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She received her BFA from the University of the Incarnate Word in 2015 and is currently in pursuit of her MFA in Photography with a secondary concentration in Art History. Her work explores themes of identity, womanhood, history, gender and her personal relationship regarding contemporary black culture. Within her work, she utilizes a variety of photographic practices including image appropriation, historical processes and digital imagery.
2017 — present
During my second year of graduate school, I began focusing on historically based work, focusing on historical events that had come to define American black culture. I reference concepts of race, sexuality, black Diaspora, as well as the complexity of black culture in regards to my own experiences and privileges.
Drawing from these ideas, I began recreating historical events through various photographic processes illustrated from my own perspective. The idea of portraying black identity though a contemporary lens, specifically how black culture has been structured through dated ideals and historical events of black individuals has manifested my own thoughts regarding my racial identity and place in society.
Why Texas Woman’s University?
When I first applied to graduate school, I had the mindset that wherever I decided to go, I intended to work as hard as possible, make as much work as possible and to explore every medium, format and style of photography that I could. I also knew that I wanted to attend a university that produced strong female artists, and encouraged and gave resources to students who were interested in teaching at the collegiate level. Also, the size of the photography program has allowed greater opportunities for myself and my classmates in terms of receiving more articulated and intimate meetings with my mentors and peers.
How has your experience at your school informed or shaped your work?
Throughout my artistic and academic career, I have always been interested in the imbalanced relationship between nature and nurture. Coming into the program I was unsure of where I stood as a photographer and what direction I wanted my work to go. As the only African American graduate student within the program, I was familiar with the concept of "other" and having my personal experiences and histories be misinterpreted and misunderstood by my classmates.The influx of new faculty has allowed for more diverse artists to be discussed in both photography and art history classes. The current art history professor has introduced me to historical and diverse artists that inform my work that had otherwise been absent from my academic research. From there I was interested in documenting and researching the traditions, histories, and meanings regarding African American culture. I began creating work pertaining to social justice issues that were significant to me and those within my own family. From there I began to look more into the historical influences of racial injustices regarding black individuals and how these stereotypes and aggressions came to be.
What kind of exhibition or arts-related job opportunities exist in the area for current students and recent graduates?
Denton is a great area to be in as it’s somewhat within the epicenter of the DFW area. Dallas and Fort Worth, respectively are only an hour’s drive away which allows many opportunities to visit museums, galleries, and the historical artist districts. Artist ran galleries such as 500x in Dallas, often call for students to exhibit their work and apply for shows within their venues. Many of the professional, artisitc opportunities have been given to Texas Woman and University of North Texas alumni. There are also various volunteer and internship opportunities available at the Dallas Contemporary Museum of Art, the Warehouse, and the Nasher Sculpture Museum.
What’s the most memorable piece of advice you've received from a mentor?
Throughout my time at TWU, I have had two photographic mentors who have each given me advice regarding my artistic approach. During my first year of grad school, Susan Kae Grant emphasized the necessity of writing and brainstorming exercises in order to articulate my artistic concepts. During the remainder of my time at Texas Woman's Meg Griffiths encouraged the belief that everything that I produce is a stepping stone towards a successful, complete body of work.
What advice do you have for prospective students looking to attend your school?
The most important advice that I could give to potential graduate students is to talk to other students currently in the program. These students will give you the best advice and their most honest opinion regarding the program and the institution. I would encourage this by planning a visit to the facilities, meeting for lunch with the department or finding students through social media. The fact that the visual arts program is a small community allows for outside perspectives and criticisms to improve work while encouraging experimentation in cross disciplinary mediums.
Where can we keep up with your photo department online?