Austin’s Blanton Museum of Art wins NEH grant for upcoming Latin American exhibition

Austin's Blanton Museum of Art wins NEH grant for upcoming exhibition

Painted Cloth exhibition at Blanton
The grant will fund the Blanton's "Painted Cloth" exhibition. Blanton Museum of Art/Instagram

The Blanton Museum of Art has received a nearly $100,000 federal grant that will enable the museum to implement a new exhibition detailing the role fashion played in colonial Latin America. 

The grant, which comes from the National Endowment for the Humanities in the Public Humanities Projects category and represents the first NEH exhibition grant for the Blanton, totals $99,999 and supports the museum’s upcoming “Painted Cloth: Fashion and Ritual in Colonial Latin America” exhibition, which explores the social roles of textiles and their visual representation in various media produced in Bolivia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela during the 1600s and 1700s.

The “Painted Cloth” exhibition is scheduled to open in the fall of 2022, and delves into the relationships between Latin American art from the 17th and 18th centuries and the garments worn by laypeople as well as by the liturgy of the time. It examines how European and Indigenous traditions were woven together during this time period, and will showcase the production, use, and meaning of such garments, in addition to revealing the ways in which they were experienced in civil and religious settings.

Accompanying the exhibition will be a scholarly catalogue, educational resources, and public programs, according to the Blanton.

“‘Painted Cloth’ reflects on the essential role of wardrobe in articulating socioeconomic identity in civil and religious settings in a multiracial environment,” says Rosario I. Granados, the Blanton’s Marilynn Thoma associate curator of art of the Spanish Americas, who is organizing the exhibition. “For instance, in one of the largest sections of the exhibition, portraits of wealthy Indigenous criollos from Lima and Mexico City, as well as New Spanish casta and Peruvian mestizaje paintings, explore how fashion codes determined social interactions and collective identities in terms of gender, race, and class. Visual literacy is at the core of ‘Painted Cloth.’”

The new NEH grant is part of the federal agency’s recently announced plan to grant $24 million for 225 humanities projects throughout the country that support the preservation of historic collections, humanities exhibitions and documentaries, scholarly research, and curriculum projects. The Blanton is one of 16 grant recipients in Texas and one of only two in Austin. The other local grant goes to Kelsey Neely, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas who studies linguistics and is documenting the diversification in certain dialects of South America.

Texas organizations will receive more than $1.13 million as part of the NEH’s humanities projects grants. Other Texas grant recipients include:

  • University of Texas, Arlington: $34,999 for a project involving medical humanities
  • Texas A&M University student Jonathan Brunstedt in College Station: $6,000 for a project examining the cultural legacies of Vietnam and the Soviet-Afghan wars
  • Southern Methodist University student Kristina Nielsen in Dallas: $6,000 for a book project on Aztec music and dance in contemporary Los Angeles
  • Ivy Doak of Denton: $60,000 for a linguistics project examining Native American language of the Pacific Northwest
  • Texas Women’s University in Denton: $99,426 for a project focused on the history of the African American community of Quakertown
  • El Paso Community College: $34,669 for a program that bridges humanities and STEM fields
  • Alexander Hidalgo of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth: $6,000 for book research about Mexican soundscapes in the colonial era
  • Kara Vuic of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth: $6,000 for book research about gender and military conscription in the U.S.
  • Abigail Meert of Texas A&M International University in Laredo: $6,000 for research on Uganda
  • Texas Tech University in Lubbock: $334,335 for research about a class-action lawsuit surrounding the Agent Orange warfare toxin
  • Judd Foundation in Marfa: $155,257 for a project on artist Donald Judd
  • Erin Smith of the University of Texas at Dallas in Richardson: $6,000 for a book project on women’s genre fiction in the Cold War era
  • Esperanza Peace and Justice Center in San Antonio: $75,000 for a permanent exhibition for the Museo del Westside
  • Texas State University – San Marcos: $144,848 for a project documenting prehistoric rock art in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands of south Texas and north Mexico

“NEH is proud to support these 225 new projects, which embody excellence, intellectual rigor, and a dedication to the pursuit of knowledge, even as our nation and the humanities community continue to face the challenges of the pandemic,” NEH acting chairman Adam Wolfson says. “We look forward to the contributions these projects will make to our understanding of ourselves and our society through exemplary humanities research, publications, documentary films, exhibitions, and undergraduate programs.”