Meet the... Assistant director of the Landmarks Public Art Program

Photo Credit: Alejandro Silveyra

Nisa Mason plays an integral role in managing the various works of art and sculptures that are on display around campus. After earning a bachelor’s degree in urban studies from Brown University, she came to UT to earn her master’s degree in art history, and has worked with the university ever since. Mason offered insight into her job of handling the world-class art, some of which has traveled all the way from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Longhorn Life: What are your responsibilities?

Nisa Mason: My responsibilities include the management of our public art collection, in other words ensuring that all works of art are properly cared for and documented, managing the process of installing new works of art and operations management, or overseeing our education, communications and administrative staff and processes. 

LL: What do you do during a typical day? 

NM: It’s a cliché to say this but there really is no typical day for me. That’s part of what makes my job great. Some days I spend a lot of time on administrative tasks, emailing with various stakeholders in our projects or reviewing contracts or budgets. Other days I spend in meetings or out on campus, checking in on pieces we have in the works. I would say that my one consistent task is problem solving. 

LL: What led you to pursue a career in aesthetics management?

NM: In many ways my current career as a public art administrator found me. It just seemed to be a very natural combination of my interest in art and the particular ways we interact with the built environment that surrounds us. 

LL: What is the most interesting part of your job?

NM: One of the most interesting and challenging aspects of my job has been learning how to properly care for a diverse collection of modern and contemporary art, from traditional sculpture to high tech new media pieces. I learn something new every day. It has also been incredibly interesting to watch the entire process of artistic creation in the public realm, from the artist’s initial concept to the completed work of art, and the many transformations that take place along the way. 

LL: What is the most interesting sculpture or piece of art on campus? Why?

NM: This is a tough question to answer. Perhaps I’m biased because it’s new, and because I had such a strong hand in the making of this piece, but I’d have to say I really love Ben Rubin’s “And That’s The Way It Is.” Every night after sundown the façade of the CMA building comes to life with this projection. It’s not only visually striking, but also fascinating because it meshes together archival news with contemporary headlines and is different every day.