• June 13, 2024

UTRGV Students Display Work In 15 Museums & Institutions Worldwide

UTRGV Students Display Work In 15 Museums & Institutions Worldwide

UTRGV hosts “Cross Connections 2024,” emerging media exhibition and juried competition

By Karen Villarreal

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS– The work of 11 UTRGV students is being exhibited in seven museums and eight institutions of higher education around the world as part of an international design competition called “Cross Connections.”

The exhibit is on view in the Rio Grande Valley at the International Museum of Art and Science (IMAS) in McAllen through Sept. 8, 2024.

This is the fourth “Cross Connections” exhibit hosted by the hosted by the UTRGV School of Art and Design, International Museum of Art and Science, and Brownville Museum of Fine Art, and has grown to include visual communication and emerging media design artists from 20 institutions in China, Taiwan, Korea, Mexico, the United States, Belgium and Portugal.

Ping Xu, associate professor of Visual Communication Design at UTRGV and curator of the international design festival, said it was an exciting challenge to work collaboratively with so many institutions around the world.

“It’s very important for our students’ growth to give them a global view to prepare for their future – and let the entire world know UTRGV,” he said.

Robert Gilbert, associate professor of Visual Communication Design at UTRGV, said this year’s exhibit was more than a year in the making.

Each institution submitted up to 30 students’ work for judging, and a panel of experts then selected the 100 wall-mounted and 85 screen-based pieces for the exhibit out of 525 entries. As a UTRGV Exhibition Committee member, Gilbert coordinatized with IMAS and BMFA and assisted with the transportation of exhibition materials.

“The exhibit was sent to seven participating institutions and eight museums, and then they produced it – exactly what you see here – and showed it in their country,” Gilbert said during the “Member’s Opening” event at IMAS on May 31, 2024. “It’s a great opportunity for our students.”


Xu said communication and media design differs from traditional media in that it is constantly changing.

“In our program, every six months, it’s changing, changing, changing,” he said. “We need to upgrade all the time.”

He emphasized the significance of hosting and participating in such international exchange events, which facilitate the sharing of the latest design trends.

“Different techniques, different programs other institutions are using inspire our faculty and students, inspire our program,” Xu said.

Ed Pogue, director of the UTRGV School of Art and Design, said the exhibit is unique for including animation, game design, UI/UX, or user interface/user experience, and cell phone app design.

“These are forms of communication, too,” he said. “One of the positive aspects of this exhibition describes how graphic design – how design in general – is not only an important part of our culture and everyday life, but also how we interface with the technology we use.”

Pogue said the international exhibit is a testament to the Rio Grande Valley’s growing artistic community.

“It speaks to the Valley, and the quality of students, and the quality of artistic expression that we have in the Valley that sometimes goes unrecognized,” he said.


The works of 11 UTRGV students were selected by the exhibition jury to enter the international juried exhibition, while some UTRGV student works were also chosen and submitted by UTRGV design faculty for an additional design competition. Three of these entries were selected as award winners in the juried exhibition.

Heidy Mendez won a Special Judging Awards in Emerging Media Design. Honorable Mentions in Emerging Media Design were awarded to Andres Trejo and Kyara Valdez.

Kyara Valdez, 23, from Alamo, designed the look and feel of a mood-tracking app, “Moody,” as a project for her graphic design minor. Using knowledge from her computer science major, she began developing it into a working app.

“Not everyone can say that their work is exhibited in a museum, so it feels amazing!” she said, standing in front of her work at the IMAS. “I’m honestly eternally grateful to Professor Ping because he opened up so many opportunities for me.”

Valdez thanked him for the opportunity to develop Moody, which she later was able to enter to a state-level Addy competition. She also credits the experience to helping her secure her current job as a multimedia designer. She plans to keep working on Moody until it’s a useable product.

Valdez, Trejo and Mendez’s work was shown, with the collaborating artists, at two locations in the Rio Grande Valley: the School of Art and Design (SOAD) from Feb. 26 through March 13, and from April 9-27 at the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art (BMFA).

“Cross Connections 2024” is currently on display at the IMAS in McAllen through Sept. 8.

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