UNT professor's neon light sculpture acquired by Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery

Monday, February 1, 2021 - 09:44
Alicia Eggert sits next to her
Alicia Eggert sits next to her "This Present Moment" sculpture. [Photo by Vision & Verve]

MEDIA: Download photos of Alicia Eggert and her artwork. 

DENTON (UNT), Texas — University of North Texas faculty member Alicia Eggert has installed her artworks all over the world — from building rooftops in Russia to uninhabited islands in Maine.

Now, one of her light sculptures has found a forever home in the collections at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.

The acquisition by the premier museum of American craft and decorative arts marks a career first for Eggert, who is an associate professor and coordinator for the sculpture program in the UNT College of Visual Arts and Design.

“The Smithsonian is a very respected institution around the world, and I’m thrilled to have my first acquisition be a museum of such caliber,” Eggert said.

As an interdisciplinary artist, Eggert gives material form to language and time through her inventive sculptures. Her works have been exhibited at notable institutions including the CAFA Art Museum in Beijing, the Triennale Design Museum in Milan, the Corning Museum of Glass in New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Most recently, she installed work locally at the AURORA-led immersive parking garage exhibit Area 3 in Dallas and a commissioned artwork at IBM’s new office space in Coppell.

She has earned numerous honors and awards such as a TED fellowship, a Direct Artist Grant from the Harpo Foundation and an Artist Microgrant from the Nasher Sculpture Center. Last year, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs added her to the Fulbright Specialist Roster.

The artwork acquired by the Renwick Gallery is the second edition of Eggert’s “This Present Moment,” a sign sculpture that cycles through the statements “this present moment used to be the unimaginable future” and “this moment used to be the future” in a flashing neon pink hue before turning off completely for a short period of time. She chose the words from the book, The Clock of the Long Now, by Stewart Brand, a writer who is best known as the editor of the Whole Earth Catalogue. Brand also is president of the board of directors of the Long Now Foundation, which supports projects that foster longer-term thinking as a counter to today’s “faster/cheaper” culture.

“My goal is always to say something that feels really meaningful, but is always relevant — something that will be true today and 1,000 years from now. These statements from Brand are always true, but they mean different things at different times and their meanings can vary from person to person,” Eggert said.

The first edition of this sculpture initially went on display in Eggert’s 2019 solo exhibition during her Institute for the Advancement of the Arts fellowship in Portugal. The second rendition acquired by the Renwick Gallery was fabricated with the help of Amy Enlow as well as UNT alumni Austin Lewis, Jaelyn Kotzur, Paolo Tamez-Buccino and Teresa Larrabee.

“This Present Moment” will debut at the Renwick Gallery as part of the museum’s 50th anniversary exhibition in 2022. Eggert said she’s been asked by the curator to write an essay for the exhibition catalog.

“Having my work in a museum was unimaginable to me for a long time. The idea that it’s going to be cared for and be viewed by people for generations to come is such an incredible thing,” Eggert said.

[Photo by Calen Barnum]


Title/Date: This Present Moment, 2019-2020 (Ed. #2 of 3)

Medium: neon, custom controller, steel

Size: 144” x 180” x 48”

UNT News Service
(940) 565-2108