Lockers in ATEC showcase symbolic art

Photo by Devinee Amin | Mercury Staff


The fifth annual Pop-up Locker Exhibition is currently on display in ATEC from March 23 to April 21. Open to students and staff, the “Shadowlands” themed exhibition showcases student artwork in lockers and includes prizes for the top three displays.

While graduate students and faculty conducted past exhibits, this year’s exhibition was organized by undergraduate students enrolled in the HONS 3199 Pop-up Exhibition Design readings course, which is taught by Creative Director of LabSynthE and co-curator of the exhibit Xtine Burrough. Students helped put out the call for submissions from the student body along with judging the installations and creating an installation themselves.

Photo by Devinee Amin | Mercury Staff

“We had these really iconic lockers in the Edith O’Donnell Art and Technology Building, but they weren’t really being used very much, and so we thought that what we could do was transform them into a space for exhibition,” Burrough said. “I had some good conversations with Valerie Brunell in the honors college and proposed doing a reading seminar for the production of the locker exhibit.”

As part of the course, students read Audrey Blake’s “The Girl in His Shadow,” a book that circulated on the UTD library’s shelf over the summer about a female surgeon in the 1800s.

“Nora is a character in the book who really learns to be an excellent surgeon, but has to keep that information secret, and so there are a lot of ethical issues around that,” Burrough said. “Gender, cultural problems, challenges and questions around that as well. It takes place in the peak of medical innovation and novel surgeries, but also [during] a time and [in] a field dominated by men.”

Computer science sophomore Fatima Khalid, a student in the readings course, said that she and her peers chose the theme of the exhibition after finding details from the book that they connected with.

“Our thought process was collectively kind of all over the place, but there were a lot of ideas about the inner self and concealing identities because that’s what Nora goes through all throughout the novel, and that’s really the theme that resonated with the most of us,” Khalid said. “Professor Burrough brought up the idea after a while to literally just connect the name of the novel ‘A Girl in His Shadow’ to the theme, and we all decided that shadows encompassed a lot of our ideas and also left enough room for interpretation and creativity for students to participate.”

Photo courtesy of Fatima Khalid

Prizes were given for the top three winners, and Khalid’s installation titled “Emergence” — one of the winners — is a paper work that symbolizes emerging from the dark into the light.

“The idea is that emergence sounds like a pleasant thing, like healing from a traumatic experience … [but] I wanted my piece to focus on how that’s not always a beautiful process,” Khalid said. “I wanted to kind of create a piece that made you feel a little creeped out and spooked, so there’s a little figure I used to shine through multiple layers of black and white paper to kind of create the effect of a figure rising out of a swamp. It’s a little unnerving, and the figure’s eyes follow you as you walk past just to kind of create a sense of the paranoia you feel when you’re going through something very difficult.”

Khalid said that her experience organizing and participating in the exhibition has been enriching in not only opening doors to non-STEM topics but also as a creative outlet.

“Everyone who can visit the exhibition should definitely visit, because it’s going to be up for one month,” Khalid said. “It will be fun, and there’s so much to see and so many talented artists that worked on their pieces, so definitely go check it out.”


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