The University of Texas at Tyler
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UT Tyler Office of Marketing and Communications

UT Tyler Alumnus, Professor Together Again

June, 21, 2013

Media Contact:  Hannah Buchanan
Public Affairs Specialist
Marketing and Communications
The University of Texas at Tyler
903.565.5769 or 903.539.7196 (cell)

A sculptor uses materials as a speaker uses words to communicate. And through his art, The University of Texas at Tyler alumnus Brandon Nepote of Joplin, Mo. speaks and translates conversations with steel, wood and aluminum leafing.

“Materials, as with words, have layers of meaning embedded in the viewer’s experience,” Nepote explains. “My current body of sculpture is inspired primarily by conversation; the works are a discourse on interactions I have with people I encounter daily. I translate into three dimensional, sculptural form, so that a viewer can see the construction and deconstruction of ordinary language – the translation of those verbal processes into visual form.”

It was in his hometown of Joplin where Nepote met the one person who would not only introduce him to the world of sculpture, but also to UT Tyler.

In 2002, while attending Missouri Southern State University for undergraduate studies, Nepote met UT Tyler assistant professor Dewane Hughes.

“I went to school to become an architect. I wanted to take art classes to help gain a sense of design. That’s when I first met Dewane. He was teaching at MSSU at the time. I told him my plans, and he asked to look at some of my sketchbooks,” Nepote recalls. “And that’s when he told me he would put me in two of his classes. I always had an ability to draw, and my family has always been supportive with my artwork, but Dewane Hughes was the person who really instilled in me a respect for art, especially sculpture.”

Nepote would later follow his role model to Texas to begin graduate-level studies. Hughes left the Show Me State for the Lone Star State and started teaching at UT Tyler in 2005. After graduating from MSSU three years later, Nepote began graduate-level studies at UT Tyler.

“Brandon first took a class with me when he was 17 and years later, he has developed into quite an artist. He is living proof of the power of tenacity,” Hughes said of his former student and fellow artist. 

Since graduating from UT Tyler in May 2011, the former student has now become a teacher himself at Texas State University in San Marcos, where he teaches 3-D design courses.

The duo found themselves together again at a recent exhibition deep in the heart of Texas – literally.

As members of the Texas Sculpture Group, they were featured in the group’s annual exhibition located in the Texas State Capitol Building.

According to Nepote, the “State Capitol Show Under the Rotunda” is a group exhibition open to all Texas Sculpture Group members who submit images of their free-standing sculptures for consideration. Diana Roberts, a professional critic and art writer in San Antonio, served as this year’s exhibition curator.

“Ever since I first saw Dewane Hughes’ sculptures, I was always a fan, and to have my work beside his is the highlight of my art career,” said Nepote, who now lives in San Antonio. “This is the second show where Dewane and I were both featured artists. Earlier this year, we were asked to participate in a group exhibition in Athens, Ohio at the Majestic Art Gallery in a show titled ‘Cross-cut.’”

That show depicted sculpture from across the country.

Nepote holds a master of fine arts in studio art with an emphasis in sculpture from UT Tyler. He hopes to eventually obtain a tenure track position at a university teaching sculpture while furthering his pursuits as a professional artist.

Nepote has shown his work in other nearby states, including Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of almost 7,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.
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