Director of University Press blends fine art and communication with new exhibition on display

Andy Coughlan is a man of many trades. Aside from being the director of the Lamar University Press and a journalism instructor in the Department of Communication and Media, Coughlan spends his time in the world of fine art. With a love of theatre, he has written a number of plays and has had the opportunity to direct some over the course of his life. Coughlan doesn’t just write stories, but he also communicates them through a different medium: a canvas.

Three years in the making, Coughlan currently has his show, “A Crack in the World,” on display at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas. The exhibition will run until May 7 with all pieces on display being for sale.

Inspired by his time taking walks on the empty streets during the COVID-19 pandemic, Coughlan began working on a series of paintings that resemble the cracks in the road, specifically the cracks that have been filled with thick, black tar.

Coughlan’s inspiration for his new work began after the discovery of Richard the Third’s remains found under a parking lot in Lincolnshire, England. He also recalled stories he read about planes observing a field suffering from drought in Europe that created marks and revealed indentations on ancient structures buried.

andy-coughlan-show-2023.jpg“I started looking at the cracks in the road and kind of worked on a historical perspective,” said Coughlan. “The paintings have eight to 10 complete paintings layered on top of each other. The idea is that these are landscapes that have history. There is a history that builds up and all you get are glimpses of the past.”

Coughlan’s interest and love for history is communicated through his collection. Leaning into the idea of hidden layers, he aims to create a conversation of looking into the wealth of history, forgotten cultures and ancestors.

Using the analogy of age, Coughlan elaborated on his message by comparing it to human experience.

“What you see or what I present is a product of 64 years of history,” he said. “If you saw me or talked to me when I was 23, I would be a different person and it would be a different stage of history. There are things that have shaped me. Incidents, traumas and relationships have shaped the me that is standing here and talking right now.”

All of the pieces on display are simply titled “Untitled” followed by a number. When asked if there was a reason for this, Coughlan provided a simple answer.

“They’re all a crack in the world,” he said. “The series is an entire single piece. It’s like chapters in a book. I’m still writing the book and I have a lot more of these.”

Ultimately, Coughlan is a communication professional and finding ways to communicate through fine art is a lifelong passion he possesses due to simple curiosity. As he concluded, he emphasized the importance of communication and learning.

“What is painting if not communicating an idea,” he said. “I do think it’s important that we’re constantly challenging ourselves and we look at things and think about them.”

To learn more about Coughlan’s show, visit To learn more about the Department of Communication and Media, visit