Blanton Museum of Art Announces Two New Permanent Installations

by Jessica Fuentes March 19, 2023

The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin has announced the acquisition of two permanent installations by artists Kay Rosen and Gabriel Dawe. The works will debut to the public at the opening of the museum’s newly renovated grounds on Saturday, May 13, 2023.

In a press release, the Blanton’s director, Simone Wicha, stated, “Extending the museum experience beyond the gallery space has been integral to the design of the new grounds. Gabriel Dawe has designed his artwork and Kay Rosen has adapted her mural with the Blanton’s new architectural spaces in mind, in ways that encourage us to linger and wonder.”

Ms. Rosen’s billboard-sized text-based mural, HI, will be displayed on the east-facing exterior wall of the Blanton’s Michener Gallery building. First exhibited in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1997, the mural has been adjusted to fit the scale and shape of the museum’s façade. HI features the first nine letters of the alphabet in a bold capitalized font on a bright blue background. The final two letters, “H” and “I,” are rendered in bright yellow.

An installation image of a text-based mural by Kay Rosen featuring the first nine letters of the alphabet with the letters "H" and "I" rendered in bright yellow.

Kay Rosen, “HI,” 1997/2012, in “Girl Talk: Women and Text,” at the Contemporary Art Museum, Raleigh.

Ms. Rosen has explained, “I think of language as found material, and HI is an example of how meaning can be discovered in the raw material that is the alphabet. A personal message emerges from an impersonal system.”

Known for his vibrant installations composed of countless pieces of embroidery thread which together transform the space, Mr. Dawe’s Blanton installation, Plexus No. 44, will create an immersive experience in the museum’s lobby. Similar works by Mr. Dawe have been installed at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery. 

A rendering of a colorful installation by Gabriel Dawe.

Rendering of Gabriel Dawe, “Plexus No. 44,” 2023. ©Gabriel Dawe

Mr. Dawe explains that the color gradient of his Plexus installations, “alludes to a symbolic quest to materialize light, to give it density, so that I can offer the viewer an approximation of things otherwise inaccessible to us — a glimmer of hope that brings us closer to the transcendent.”

Carter E. Foster, the Blanton’s Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs, remarked, “Rosen’s and Dawe’s visually powerful works complement strengths in the Blanton’s collection. Dawe’s investigation of color and light beautifully complements Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin, while Kay Rosen’s HI bridges U.S. conceptual art and Latin American concrete poetry as well as the general importance of language in Latin American art. Besides these striking connections, their works impart a lot of joy and playfulness. I cannot wait for visitors to experience them.”

Both pieces, along with a large-scale mural by Carmen Herrera and Bill Fontana’s sound installation, will be unveiled at the Blanton’s Gala on April 29, 2023. The works and the new grounds will be opened to the public during the celebration on Saturday, May 13, starting at 2 pm.

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