San Antonio Artists Examine the Status of Women in New Exhibition

by Jessica Fuentes March 25, 2022

After being closed for over a year and a half due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Culture Commons, a San Antonio gallery that brings together art and civic conversations, recently reopened with an exhibition that examines issues faced by local women. The storefront art space, which is located behind City Hall, in the Plaza de Armas Building, is run by the city’s Department of Arts & Culture.

The Status of Women in San Antonio features artworks by fifteen local women artists who are responding directly to a 2019 report (of the same name) which was commissioned by the City of San Antonio. Authored by Rogelio Sáenz, Ph.D. and Lily Casura, MSW for the University of Texas at San Antonio, the report outlines issues related to health, education, work, economics, housing, crime, violence, civic engagement, and more. 

A photograph of a painting by Adriana M. Garcia. The painting is of an older Latina woman. She wears a green top with a political button pinned to it. Behind the woman are depictions of political gatherings, speeches, and posters. The text, "Committee for Barrio Betterment," can be seen in the background.

Artwork by Adriana M. Garcia. Image courtesy of Culture Commons Gallery.

While the report revealed positive findings in the areas of education, voter registration, and homeownership, it also pointed to major challenges. Some of these include pay disparities, underrepresentation of women on City boards and commissions, a lack of access to technology and transportation, higher risk levels of being a victim of violent crime, and maternal mortality. Additionally, the report highlights that many of these issues affect Latina and African American women at higher rates than white and Asian women. 

A photograph of a painting by Carmin Cartiness Johnson. The painting depicts a black woman seated on the floor with her legs crossed. She wears a white shirt with the words, "I am Somebody," written across the chest. The ground that she sits on and the wall behind her are filled with text.

Artwork by Carmen Cartiness Johnson. Image courtesy of Culture Commons Gallery.

Artworks in the exhibition at Culture Commons tackle these issues facing San Antonio women and include a variety of mediums, from painting and fiber art to photographic constructions and multimedia works. 

In the press release announcing the exhibition, Mayor Ron Nirenberg stated, “Through this platform, these artists are revealing aspects of culture and behavior that we need to change to improve the health and mental wellbeing for women in San Antonio. These artworks help viewers visualize and understand the issues around gender inequality outlined in the report and invite them to take action.”

A photograph of a work of art by Janelle Esparza. The artwork is an installation of 30 small rectangular banners assembled in a 5 by 6 grid. Each banner is off-white in color and has what appears to be a charcoal drawing at its center.

Artwork by Janelle Esparza. Image courtesy of Culture Commons Gallery.

Department of Arts & Culture Interim Executive Director Krystal Jones added, “Throughout history, artists have been at the forefront of societal discussions and issues, often influencing positive change with conversations sparked by their work. These artworks were designed and developed to be powerful catalysts that address the barriers that research shows women in San Antonio face daily. We hope each person that views this exhibition has an empathetic experience that inspires positive change for our community.”

Participating artists include:

Kat Cadena
Kallie Cheves
Jennifer Ling Datchuk
Jenelle Esparza
Audrya Flores
Sarah Fox
Adriana M. Garcia
Megan Harrison
Ana Hernandez
Mari Hernandez
Carmen Johnson Alexander
Laura Mijangos-Rapp
Rhys Munro
Karen Robinson
Hiromi Stringer

To learn more about the exhibition and related programming, visit the Culture Commons Gallery website. The show will be on view through November 18. 

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