“One of the issues I find when I step back and observe…for far too long it’s been too easy for America to avoid the conversation about racism.” — artist Vincent Valdez

On July 17, the Blanton launched its exhibition Vincent Valdez: The City with an evening program featuring artist Vincent Valdez and journalist Maria Hinojosa discussing art and racism in contemporary America.

As Blanton Director Simone Wicha noted in her introduction, “Great works of art prompt complex inquiries, and Vincent’s work, The City, does just that.” Guests in the packed auditorium listened intently as the artist and the Latino USA host talked for more than an hour about discrimination, structural racism, growing up as a person of color in America, and the inspiration behind this project–which includes a 30-foot-wide painting of Ku Klux Klan members gathered at night on the outskirts of a city.

At the end of the talk, curator Veronica Roberts moderated a Q&A session that prompted many thoughtful questions from the audience, which included artists, UT Austin faculty and students, Huston-Tillotson University faculty and students, and representatives from cultural organizations from across Austin. Nelson Linder, President of N.A.A.C.P. Austin, said, “The event not only exhibited the work of an incredible and engaging artist–Vincent Valdez, but attracted a diverse and inclusive group of community-based advocates and organizations. I left the exhibition feeling connected to the artist and many individuals whom I had never met.”

Art This Week was on hand to record the event, which you can view in its entirety below.

After the program, the auditorium was buzzing with discussion, and the conversation is far from over. Throughout the run of the exhibition, the Blanton is hosting a series of Community Conversations in response to The City, which are open to the public and facilitated by museum staff partnered with Austin community members. In addition, a day-long symposium, Facing Racism: Art & Action, will take place on September 27, 2018.

 

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