How many hats can a person wear at one time and still excel?

It’s a challenge that Associate Professor of Art Hollis Hammonds knows well, as she balances five professional art exhibits a year, three classes to teach a semester and hours of administrative work every week as chair of the Department of Visual Arts.

“I always tell new faculty that they have to be patient because being a good teacher is very difficult,” she says. “Honestly, I didn’t feel very creatively productive for my first four years working here, until I’d learned how to balance the two.”

Hammonds keeps an off-campus studio and exhibits her work around the country. In 2016, she’ll take a sabbatical to work with students at the University of North Carolina­–Charlotte and complete an artist residency at McCall Center for the Arts. One of the benefits of being a practicing artist, she hopes, is that she can inspire her students and show how they too could become working artists.

And the inspiration goes both ways.

“I think we stay intellectually and creatively fresh by working with young people who have different viewpoints than ours,” she says. “I think my work would be very different if I weren’t teaching. It’s exciting to watch them in the process of discovering something I take for granted, like seeing color with a painter’s eye; as we get older and more established, we forget what that discovery is like.”

The same self-critical discipline that pushes Hammonds to improve as an artist drives her to strive to better her teaching. And she hopes to instill the same values in her students about their own work.

Hammonds and Art majors Rachel Broussard ’16 and Caelan Navarrete ’15 view the Donal Haughey drawing exhibition in the St. Edward’s University Fine Arts Gallery.

In her studio in East Austin, Hammonds discusses upcoming projects with Art alumna Jenn Hassin ’12.

Hammonds prepares work for her upcoming exhibit at the Dishman Art Museum in Beaumont, Texas.

Hammonds is working on a graphic novel, Blanket of Fog, one of the primary focuses of her sabbatical in Spring 2016.

Hammonds’ sabbatical will bring her to the McColl Center for Art and Innovation in Charlotte, North Carolina, from January through May 2016.