Campus Life

Aggie Artist Revisits Site Of Artwork Painted To Honor Texas State Parks

Thirty artists created works celebrating state parks across Texas, and the remarkable results are currently in the Stark Galleries.
Story by Lesley Henton/Video by Cody Hitchcock, Texas A&M University Division of Marketing and Communications May 8, 2024

"Lake Raven in Spring" as it is exhibited in the Stark Galleries
“Under tall trees along the shore of Lake Raven, pine cones, needles and leaves from past autumns littered walking paths. The budding leaves in early spring could be mistaken for small yellow and yellow-green flowers. A fishing pier jutting behind the trees invited me to the lake, where I could imagine relaxing in the gentle breeze while looking across to the distant shore.”  Hailey Herrera, from “The Art of Texas State Parks: A Centennial Celebration, 1923-2023,” Texas A&M University Press

Abbey Santoro/Texas A&M University Division of Marketing and Communications

 

Hailey Herrera earned her Ph.D. in computer science from Texas A&M University in 2004 and worked as a research scientist for a time after graduation. “But it is always in my heart,” she said. “I wanted to be an artist; art is my passion.” Today, you can find her artwork at the J. Wayne Stark Galleries on the Texas A&M campus, part of The Art of Texas State Parks exhibition, a collection of paintings by multiple artists that honors and shares the beauty of the state’s parks.

We met Herrera recently at Huntsville State Park, where in 2020 she painted a watercolor piece called “Lake Raven in Spring.” She painted three additional paintings for the project and said each took about six months to complete.

Herrera, a watermedia artist who was born in Chuncheon, South Korea, now lives in Bryan and was one of 30 artists commissioned to capture park scenes as part of the Centennial Celebration of Texas State Parks.

Hailey Herrera
Artist Hailey Herrera

Barry Berenson/Texas A&M University Division of Marketing and Communications

The Stark exhibition is the seventh installation in the galleries’ Texas Art Project series, which celebrates the state’s cultural and fine arts legacy through a series of art exhibitions and educational programming.

She said when she first arrived at the Huntsville park more than four years ago, she was taken aback by the beauty of the area’s tall pine trees. “It was a great experience,” she said during her recent visit, and noted as a result of the project, she and her husband have taken to traveling to even more state parks. “We’ve become hikers!”

All 35 works in the exhibition are featured in the companion book “The Art of Texas State Parks: A Centennial Celebration, 1923-2023” by Andrew Sansom and Linda J. Reaves, published by Texas A&M University Press.

“This exhibition has broad appeal because almost everyone has visited a state park with either friends or family,” said Catherine Hastedt, director of University Art Galleries. “Visiting the exhibition is like traveling across the state. The paintings can be calm, like the view of the sunset over Palo Duro Canyon, or more exciting like a close-up of the waterfall at Pedernales Falls State Park.”

She said it’s “like a snapshot in time” of the state’s varied landscapes. “It is a testament to the people of Texas that they thought that the preservation of these areas was so important to future generations.

“It is amazing what has been accomplished in only 100 years. It would be exciting to see what the parks are like in the next 100 years.”

Admission to the exhibition is free and all are welcome.

Visit here for gallery hours and more information.

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