UT Austin’s Art Galleries at Black Studies Announces Seminar and Symposium

by Jessica Fuentes March 29, 2023

Earlier this spring, the University of Texas at Austin’s Art Galleries at Black Studies (AGBS) opened the exhibition Old Wounds, Dark Dreams, featuring works by Charles Gaines, Rodney McMillian, Cauleen Smith, and Carrie Mae Weems. This week, AGBS announced an upcoming seminar and symposium related to the exhibition.

Curated by Dr. Cherise Smith, AGBS’ Founding Executive Director, the exhibition marks the gallery’s first all-video exhibition. The included pieces explore anti-Black racism and how it affects the American psyche. 

In a press release, Dr. Smith remarked, “In this time when our country continues to reckon with events during which our citizens’ human rights have been abused, it is crucial to see how artists reckon with and commemorate dark episodes in our history. Weems, Gaines, Smith, and McMillian convey deep feelings, such as grief, tenderness, and longing, about U.S. history that are critical to explore.”

Ann Stevens, UT’s Dean of Liberal Arts stated, “This exhibition dovetails with the University’s Contextualization and Commemoration Initiative that explores the historic origins of the University of Texas at Austin’s buildings, landmarks, and spaces in order to learn about how ideas of race and gender are sedimented in the architecture, landscape, and layout of the campus.”  

A still image from Carrie Mae Weems' "Constructing History: A Requiem to Mark the Moment."

A still image from Carrie Mae Weems’ “Constructing History: A Requiem to Mark the Moment,” 2008.

This Friday, March 31, AGBS will host a seminar with artist Carrie Mae Weems, whose work Constructing History, is on view in Old Wounds, Dark Dreams. Following an open call for research papers, all 20 graduate students who submitted proposals were invited to participate in the event. The students represent the fields of studio art, art history, radio/television/film, and art education, and their papers address topics such as collaboration, social work, lens-based practices, and the relationship between contemporary art and art history, will present their work to Ms. Weems, after which they’ll have the opportunity to talk with the artist. 

Additionally, next month, on Friday, April 21, the gallery will host the public symposium Why Black Museums. The event will explore and celebrate Black museums’ contributions to the museum field by highlighting scholars and professionals working in UT Austin’s Black Studies department, as well as those working in Black museums across the country. The theme of the inaugural event is Honoring the Past, Envisioning the Future

Why Black Museums, will feature two panel discussions and a coffee reception. The free event can be attended in-person or virtually. To learn more and RSVP for the event, visit the AGBS website.

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