Merchant Mariner & multimedia artist: Chet Urban '93

Publication Date

Major: History
Minor: Studio fine arts
Further education: MSc. & USCG Third Mate’s License, State University of New York Maritime College; School of Visual Arts & Skidmore College (visual arts)
Today: BLOCK, Glassell School of Art (Museum of Fine Arts Houston); Manager Maritime Safety, Americas (Shell); former Merchant Mariner

Chet Urban has achieved success in everything from the Merchant Marine to sculpture.

“A liberal education was why I chose Union,” said Urban, who spent much of his career as a navigation and cargo officer abroad commercial tankers. “My education provided me with a range of skills and knowledge that allows me to operate in a wide variety of spaces – be that with senior executives of Fortune 500 companies, with commodity traders, on Capitol Hill, with a Filipino ship’s crew at sea or in churches in Houston.

“I was also able to do an independent study in sculpture with Chris Duncan. This was more important to me than finishing my thesis, which I squeaked out,” he added. “Following independent study, I was permitted to have a senior show, which was an exception for a visual arts minor.”

Today, Urban is a multimedia artist who makes sculptures and quilts from industrial and post-consumer materials, as well as two-dimensional monoprints. His art focuses on shared empathic or social definitions within everyday materials. Through his investigation in craft and materiality, he has explored society’s responses to unhoused communities and individuals, displacement, trauma, ecology and natural disasters.

“I think all artists are interdisciplinary to some degree. It is how we artists do our research, the multiplicity of ways that research transpires,” Urban said. “This is very true with multidisciplinary artists, which is how I identify now.”

Learn more about Urban and his work on his website.