Art exhibitions on view around Austin explore identity, transformation, culture

Aaron Boehmer, Senior Life and Arts Reporter

Whether a quick stroll across campus or a short bus ride away, many current and upcoming art installations around Austin focus on artists’ lived experiences and perspectives. The Daily Texan compiled a list of exhibitions on or near campus exploring identity, culture, transformation, connection and imagination. 


“Njideka Akunyili Crosby” at Blanton Museum of Art 

Including four paintings by Nigerian-born, Los Angeles-based artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby, the self-titled contemporary project, curated by Veronica Roberts and Claire Howard, is on display at the Blanton until Dec. 4. 

Within her art, Akunyili Crosby centers her experiences as a Black woman and the complexities of Black life. In “Still You Bloom in This Land of No Gardens” — the exhibition’s largest painting — Akunyili Crosby paints herself on her back porch holding her young child as sprawling vines and greenery frame the scene. The painting aims to counter the absence of representations of loving Black mothers in art, according to the Blanton’s website. 

From plumeria to rubber trees, Akunyili Crosby weaves plant life from Lagos and Los Angeles throughout the four paintings, creating works that interpolate her experiences in both Nigeria and the United States. 


“Historias de Transformación” at Mexic-Arte Museum

Mexic-Arte Museum’s 26th iteration of its Emerging Latinx Artists exhibition begins Sept. 16 and runs until Feb. 5, 2023. Curated by Luisa Perez and Isabel Servantez, this year’s ELA exhibition, “Historias de Transformación,” focuses on the concept of transformation.

The exhibition features 17 artists from across Texas, whose work represents changes they experienced or witnessed in order to thrive as both artists and individuals. 

Rather than assimilate into U.S. culture, the artists use their work to express a mix of cultural backgrounds as they comment on themselves and the world around them. 


“Wura-Natasha Ogunji: earth, body, spirit” at Art Galleries at Black Studies 

After hand stitching tracing paper, U.S.-born, Nigeria-based artist Wura-Natasha Ogunji uses ink, acrylic paint and colored pencil to draw herself, birds and loved ones in her artwork. On view until Feb. 10, 2023, her exhibition entitled “Wura-Natasha Ogunji: earth, body, spirit,” marks a recent curation by Phillip Townsend at the Art Galleries at Black Studies. 

The exhibition includes a video titled “Will I still carry water when I am a dead woman?,” which captures Ogunji and six other women carrying water in large plastic containers around the city. Referencing Egungun, a Yoruba masquerade usually restricted to men, Ogunji’s performance places women in a sacred spiritual place they otherwise would not be able to access.  

Tethering her work to water, Ogunji reflects on connections and separations between Africa and the Americas. Ogunji aims to work against Western views of body and spirit by incorporating her ​​knowledge of the African and African diaspora. 


“In a Dream You Saw a Way to Survive and You Were Full of Joy” at The Contemporary Austin

On view beginning Sept. 17 and running until Feb.12, 2023, “In a Dream You Saw a Way to Survive and You Were Full of Joy” features eight female artists —  Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley, Adriana Corral, Ellie Ga, Juliana Huxtable, Tala Madani, Danielle Mckinney, Wendy Red Star and Clare Rojas — in an exhibition inspired by Jenny Holzer. 

Curated by Robin Williams and Julie Le, the exhibition’s title draws from Holzer’s text-based artwork of the same name. Holzer is known for other text-based works, including “Abuse of Power Comes as No Surprise” and “Protect Me From What I Want.” 

The exhibition includes paintings, videos and mixed media artwork referential to feminism and opposed to patriarchal power structures. Inspired by dreams and storytelling, the featured artists imagine a more equitable future through their creations.