Europe and the Rio Grande Valley are miles apart on the map and are different in their customs and languages, but according to Fulbright Scholar Mark Cloet, art brings the two cultures together through its dialect.
"The art I am doing research on and the art I am making are like language, but a language of images. Images are everywhere and the language that goes from images to people is a language not too difficult to understand," Cloet said.
Cloet is visiting The University of Texas-Pan American on a Fulbright scholarship for the 2011-2012 academic year and hopes to inspire students through his art, workshops and lectures.
"I am interested in not only teaching students or giving lectures, but also interested in what students are thinking here at UTPA. I will definitely take into consideration their feedback in my presentations and such," Cloet said.
Each year some 800 faculty and professionals from around the world receive Fulbright Scholar grants for advanced research and university lecturing in the United States.
Individuals who meet the eligibility requirements apply for grants through the Fulbright commission foundation or public affairs section of the U.S. Embassy in their home countries.
"The title of Fulbright Scholar is of such great importance to me. Fulbright has taken me to places such as Poland and South Africa," said Cloet. "My hometown of Ghent, in Belgium, is overflowing with crossroads of cultures and I am happy with the fact that there is a university as culturally diverse as UTPA."
Cloet is an internationally renowned conceptual artist. He works in many different media including graphic media, bronze, ceramic, stone and wood and has participated in numerous European exhibitions.
Cloet will participate in a two-part lecture series in the month of October. The first lecture will be in conjunction with two other visiting artists on Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 6 p.m. at UTPA's Music Recital Hall (FAC103). The three-person panel will consist of Cloet, performance artist Elia Arce and art historian Jan Siesling, who will discuss the topic "Identity, Communication, and Creation in the Visual Arts."
The second lecture will take place on Thursday, Oct. 13 at the International Museum of Art and Science in McAllen at 6 p.m. and will again feature Cloet, Arce and Siesling.
Although Cloet is miles away from his home in Belgium, he remains excited about his stay at UTPA and looks forward to the opportunity to work with students and faculty at the University.
"New environments give you the opportunity to think differently and create new art. At the end, as an artist, I have to finish and put away all that I have gathered. That's the moment I start all over again and that in itself is a good thing for me here at UTPA."
For more information on Cloet, visit www.markcloet.be.