Artist-in-Residence Program Hosts First Female Artists at Laguna Madre Field Station

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – First launched in 2015 by the Center For Coastal Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, the Artist-in-Residence Program broke ground this year when it hosted two female artists for the first time in the program’s short history.

Corpus Christi artists Jenifer Hartsfield and Diane Weiner spent five days in January at the Laguna Madre Field Station, a nearly 2,000-square-foot cabin that is roughly 7 miles south of the JFK Causeway. Hartsfield and Weiner braved challenging weather conditions to explore the station’s unique environment and observe wildlife that frequents the area. One of the largest hypersaline lagoons in the world, the Laguna Madre has been recognized by experts as a fragile ecosystem requiring study since the early 1980s.   

“The Artist-in-Residence Program was started in an attempt to meld the sciences and the arts, and we modeled it after a pre-existing program that the National Park Service has used in the past,” said Aaron Baxter, Research Specialist for the Center for Coastal Studies. “We had a real unique opportunity with the Laguna Madre Field Station to offer a venue of sorts – a little bit different than your normal artistic endeavor.”

Inspired by the experience, Hartsfield and Weiner created a total of 60 works of art, which were initially unveiled at an Artist-in-Residence Reception at the Art Center of Corpus Christi on Aug. 7. The Artist-in-Residence Show will run from Oct. 7 to Nov. 6 in the Mary and Jeff Bell Library on campus.  

Hartsfield, who creates paintings, drawings, prints, mixed media, and 3-D work, said the spartan nature of the cabin and wintry weather proved to be instructive. 

“It was a very important teaching point because we need to get out of our comfort zones to realize what is in front of us. I’m a perfect example of somebody who went through that,” said Hartsfield. “It was the out-of-the-comfort-zone experience that stimulated me to reach beyond – where the ideas are and where the beauty is.”

Weiner said her experience as a Girl Scout instilled an early love of nature. She saw the work of the other artists who had participated in the program and decided to apply.

“The program had never had a woman as an artist, so it feels like we’re opening the door,” Weiner said.

Weiner’s primary medium is fiber; she uses strips of fabric to add color, which is then sewn to a large white cloth canvas. The labor-intensive work process is inherently time consuming; as a result, Weiner worked on four of her pieces at the field station and relied on the photographs she took during the residency as inspiration to create other pieces at home.

“I’ve never been able to focus on a topic for seven months at a time before, but I think I’m ready to do more things like that,” Weiner said. “I also respect all of the different parts of my artist life that I have developed: painting, drawings, working with polymer clay, and then working with fiber art. I can say whatever I want to say using all these different kinds of art.” 

Additional Information

The history of the Artist-in-Residence Program began four years ago. Here’s a list of the artists who have participated in a residency to date:

  • David Tripp (June 7-12, 2015)
  • Jeffery Neel McDaniel (Oct. 1-5, 2016)
  • Jacob “Augs” Augsburger (March 27-31, 2017)
  • Jon Steele (Oct. 29-Nov. 2, 2018)
  • Jenifer Hartsfield & Diane Weiner (Jan. 18-23, 2019)