Assembly: New Acquisitions by Contemporary Black Artists

Exhibitions
SPECIAL PRESENTATION

Assembly: New Acquisitions by Contemporary Black Artists

OPENS
December 11, 2021
CLOSES
September 4, 2022
SHARE

About the Exhibit

This installation celebrates major acquisitions made possible by funds from an anonymous donor to purchase work by contemporary Black artists based in the United States. Acutely aware of the underrepresentation of works by artists of color in museum collections, she offered to support acquisitions over a multiyear period, culminating in this special presentation of work by twelve artists. Her motivations were also personal: as the descendent of slaveholders, she was eager to support art that sparks critical thinking and conversations around race. A forthcoming catalogue will also be published to foster new scholarship and amplify the voices of emerging writers and curators of color.

Assembly includes paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, textiles, and a monumental print, all produced between 1980 and 2019. Although diverse in style and subject matter, many of the works have ties to Southern history and reveal what scholar Saidiya Hartman refers to as “the long afterlife of slavery.” For example, the shared surname of two—unrelated—quiltmakers in the exhibition, Arie Pettway and Sally Mae Pettway Mixon, is that of the plantation owner their enslaved ancestors were forced to serve in Gee’s Bend, Alabama. Kevin Beasley’s resin sculpture incorporates raw cotton from his family’s farm in Virginia. Nari Ward’s immersive installation honors overlooked places, people, and traditions in Savannah, Georgia. Cauleen Smith made her recent neon work in memory of Sandra Bland, a Black woman who died in police custody after a routine traffic stop in Waller County, Texas.

The title of the presentation, Assembly, embraces the heterogeneity of work made by Black artists, refusing generalization, essentialization, and definitive interpretation. As theorized by the late British cultural critic Stuart Hall and expanded on by American philosopher Paul C. Taylor, with “assembly” comes the potential for disassembly and reassembly. In this gathering, we encounter acts of representation, resilience, reclamation, and resistance.

The installation includes works by Emma Amos, Kevin Beasley, Genevieve Gaignard, James “Yaya” Hough, Arie Pettway, Sally Pettway Mixon, Robert Pruitt, Noah Purifoy, Deborah Roberts, Lorna Simpson, Cauleen Smith, and Nari Ward. View the presentation in the Huntington gallery, located on the second floor of the museum.

Organized by Veronica Roberts, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

Upcoming/Past Virtual Events

2022sun22may12:30 pmPublic Tour - Now On View: Contemporary Artists at the BlantonSee new key contemporary works of art on this public tour.12:30 pm(GMT-05:00) View in my time

2022thu09jun12:30 pmPublic Tour - Now On View: Contemporary Artists at the BlantonSee new key contemporary works of art on this public tour.12:30 pm(GMT-05:00) View in my time

2022thu16jun12:30 pmPublic Tour - Now On View: Contemporary Artists at the BlantonSee new key contemporary works of art on this public tour.12:30 pm(GMT-05:00) View in my time

2022sun26jun3:00 pmPublic Tour - Now On View: Contemporary Artists at the BlantonSee new key contemporary works of art on this public tour.3:00 pm(GMT-05:00) View in my time

Image Gallery

Cauleen Smith, "Light Up Your Life (For Sandra Bland)," 2019. Neon, Plexiglas, faceted hematite, and aluminum chain, overall: 106 3/4 × 68 × 5 in. Commissioned and produced by Artpace San Antonio, Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Purchase through the generosity of an anonymous donor, 2020
« of 6 »

Feature Image Credit

Genevieve Gaignard, Blackish, (detail) 2018. Chromogenic print, 32 x 48 in. Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Purchase through the generosity of an anonymous donor, 2020. Image courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles © Genevieve Gaignard

Scroll to Top
X