Facing Racism: Art and Action

Race and Social Justice in Art

CHAPTER 1: Facing Racism: Art and Action

Facing Racism: Art and Action
September 27, 2018

In conjunction with the exhibition Vincent Valdez: The City (2018), the Blanton Museum of Art invited scholars from around the nation to participate in a day-long symposium Facing Racism: Art and Action. Inspired by the commitment of the artist to create socially engaged art, the event featured artists, curators, and scholars sharing experiences and ideas about the role of the arts in addressing racism.

In this excerpt from the Blanton’s Facing Racism: Art and Action symposium, artist Paul Rucker provides insight into his practice and how he challenges viewers to engage with difficult, yet necessary subjects and to contend with the banality of violence. As a collector of historical objects and artifacts—branding irons, restraints, shackles—Rucker demonstrates how these objects and historical archives inform his work, revealing the “unseen” in American history.

In this excerpt from the Facing Racism: Art and Action symposium, panelist La Tanya S. Autry discusses merging curatorial practice with her personal commitments to addressing racial and social justice. She highlights key areas of focus, including teaching to expand the canon and bringing awareness to the lack of neutrality in our institutions.

In this excerpt from the Facing Racism: Art and Action symposium, curator Janet Dees considers the strategies artist-activists have used to combat racism throughout art history. Dees examines a Reginald Marsh drawing first published in The New Yorker in 1934. She considers Marsh’s intentional shift of focus from the black body to the white crowd.

In this excerpt from the Facing Racism: Art and Action symposium, poet Roger Reeves reads a selection of new works that he chose for their ability to “sit with” Vincent Valdez’s The City. Reeves pauses only briefly to share influences ranging from the rapper Future to Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Feature Image Credit: Panelists: Artists Jennifer Ling Datchuk, San Antonio, TX and Paul Rucker, Seattle, VA; Vincent Valdez, Houston, TX. Moderated by Mónica Jiménez, Assistant Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies, UT at the Blanton symposium Facing Racism: Art and Action, September 27, 2018.

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