Art All Around Us

Groundbreaking show exploring gender and identity debuts in Texas

Groundbreaking show exploring gender and identity debuts in Texas

Jacolby Satterwhite neon sign
Jacolby Satterwhite's How lovly is me being as I am, 2014. Jacolby Satterwhite/McNay Art Museum

A groundbreaking pair of shows are transforming the art world this summer. Beginning June 20 through September 15, "Andy Warhol: Portraits" and "Transamerica/n: Gender, Identity, Appearance Today" will be on display at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio.

In what is likely to be a blockbuster event, "Andy Warhol: Portraits" is comprised of 120 paintings, prints, photographs, films, and videos all depicting the glamorous New York City art and social scenes of the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. Viewers can see portraits of, among others, Joan Collins, Debbie Harry, Dennis Hopper, and Mick Jagger, along with 16mm films shot by Warhol.

The show will also display a dozen ensembles from fashion houses including Halston, Yves Saint Laurent, Pucci, and Roberto Cavalli, all designed to capture the look of the era's high society and scenesters.

Though surely a blockbuster event on its own, the Andy Warhol retrospective is running in conjunction with "Transamerica/n," — an exhibition unlike San Antonio has ever seen.

Featuring the work of Robert Mapplethorpe, Catherine Opie, Greer Lankton, Frank Benson, Xavier Schipani, and Jacolby Satterwhite, the exhibition is an examination of gender identities and the narratives that have formed around traditional gender stereotypes. This one-of-a-kind event is also billed as "the country’s first broad survey of contemporary artwork from across North America to explore the construction of identity through gender and outward appearance."

Though that description is quite lengthy, it's hard to overestimate the importance of a exhibition like "Transamerica/n." Not only is it curated to expand viewers' perceptions of gender constructs, but it is also shining a big, McNay-sized spotlight onto the work of artists who are too often overlooked.

"There are so many talented queer/trans artists involved in the show and I hope that it gives the audience a chance to really witness a wide perspective of experience," says Schipani, an Austin-based artist creating an all-gendered bathroom in the museum as part of the exhibition. "I think it is important to give insight to our lives in a time when our stories and bodies are constantly pushed aside and kept off of mainstream platforms."

McNay's summer programming is also timed in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, often considered the catalyst for the modern LBGTQI movement.

The timing of the two shows, say McNay organizers, couldn't be more important. "This exhibition is about love,” says Richard Aste, McNay director, in a release. “It is about honoring the authentic identities of artists by adding their dignified portrayals to our walls. Art museums can bridge their communities, and 'Transamerica/n' will help the McNay do that better.”