state of the arts
9 rousing art exhibits throughout Austin to welcome the new year
It’s January and that means it’s time to embrace those New Year’s resolutions to better nurture your curious and creative sides with more artistic outings in 2022. Embark on a stimulating journey and discover new acquisitions from Black artists on display at the Blanton, ponder intimate sculptures, surreal prints, and historical places, and immerse yourself in film-based exhibits and the power and symbolism of flowers. It’s all here for the taking in Austin this month.
“Mix ‘n’ Mash Las Flores – La Vida”
Now through February 6.
This group show displays artwork from more than 200 local and regional artists created on panels donated by Ampersand Art Supply. This year’s theme is flowers and life, symbolic throughout ancient Mesoamerican thought and practice. Flowers could represent anything from beauty and creation to death and destruction. Offerings of flowers were placed on the statues of deities. Flowers were an important feature in many ceremonies. Much of the ancient symbolism and some of the actual practices of arranging and using flowers have continued to the present day in Mexico.
Blanton Museum of Art
“Assembly: New Acquisitions by Contemporary Black Artists”
Now through May 8.
“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.” The title of the exhibition, “Assembly,” embraces the heterogeneity of work made by Black artists. The compilation includes works of representation, resilience, reclamation, and resistance.
Wally Workman Gallery
“PrintAustin: Jihye Lim and Laura Post”
In conjunction with the citywide printmaking festival, PrintAustin, Wally Workman is exhibiting works from Korean artist Jihye Lim and Texas artist Laura Post. While Lim and Post both employ a surreal use of the figure, Post’s sculptures combine various printmaking techniques with cast handmade paper to expand the boundaries of the medium of print and redefine ideas of portraiture. Lim’s mezzotints explore ideas of rest, depicting the figure physically becoming one with objects of leisure. Post uses her training in Chinese language and East Asian studies to incorporate traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Western printmaking and papermaking techniques. This is Lim’s first exhibition in the United States.
Neill-Cochran House Museum
“Land as Persona: My Journey as an Artist”
January 12-May 15.
“Land as Persona: My Journey as an Artist” focuses on the Wallace House, once a plantation and today owned and programmed by Klein Arts & Culture. In the specificity of this place, visitors can view the arc of the American South, from the conquest of the Muskogee Creek Nation to enslavement and the rise of the cotton economy, through emancipation, reconstruction, and the rise of Jim Crow, to the present time, in which Black and white descendants of the place have come together to create a new narrative.
Lydia Street Gallery
“Ric Nelson, Persona”
January 14-February 24.
Ric Nelson is a self-taught artist who explores the use of multiple mediums and styles to narrate his own story. His artist’s journey began with music and the guitar, then he turned toward the visual arts as another inspiring source, “a way to visualize my thoughts and moods.” Nelson works in glass, acrylic, spray enamel, wood, wire, and even candle soot “to produce the physical interpretations of my thoughts, which also highlight my creative process.”
“Laura Berman: Temporalities”
January 15-February 26.
Laura Crehuet Berman creates images that layer time, space, form, and color together. The natural world inspires her, and there is a focus on play, improvisation, and relational dynamics in her work. Berman has created site-specific exhibitions and exhibited her print work in over 125 exhibitions at galleries and museums around the country and beyond. With her husband, she runs Prairieside Cottage and Outpost, a family-friendly artist retreat in the Flint Hills region of Matfield Green, Kansas.
Women & Their Work
“A Welcoming Place by Ariel René Jackson”
January 15-March 3.
This film-based exhibition is the product of “taking temperature,” or gathering individual testimonies throughout an area. The exhibition weaves interviews, research, images, video, animation, and sculpture to deliver a poetic visualization of shared knowledge about East Austin. Artist Ariel René Jackson uses a weather balloon as a metaphor for gathered testimonials, a cultural technology to sense and detect the climate of a situation or space. The craft in Jackson’s exhibition lies in the generations of skilled observation within Black and brown communities, warning each other when sociological danger is near, especially when it isn’t entirely visible.
“Bethany Johnson: Findings”
January 22-March 6.
Reminiscent of geologic formations, the intimate sculptures of “Findings” offer a multilayered meditation on deep time, material metamorphosis, and the anthropogenic landscaping of landfills, quarries, and road cuts. These works take the form of stratified plinths of contrasting materials that are reminiscent of geological core samples, landfill strata, archival stacks, and material storage. The works’ satin surfaces evoke the hand-worn patina of worry stones, and the modest scale suggests the intimacy of a beloved keepsake or archived natural specimen. Johnson, an Austin artist, creates mysterious and entrancing weighty sculptures that reveal themselves slowly, asking for close examination and gradual discovery of their origins.
Visual Arts Center
“Bill Morrison: Cycles & Loops”
January 28-March 12.
Bill Morrison is an accomplished filmmaker who rescues lesser-known and forgotten histories while investigating the fragile existence of celluloid materials. His extensive filmography sources rare archival footage, as well as 35 mm nitrate film in various states of decomposition. In “Cycles & Loops,” his first solo exhibition in Texas, Morrison deconstructs his films to create essential abstractions for the gallery space. The repetitive loops presented do not have a beginning or end; instead, they allow the viewer to engage intellectually and emotionally with wavering and untethered relics from history. With these stitched-together fragments, Morrison demonstrates the possibilities for rebirth out of the chaos of decay.