Feb 23, 2022 - News

New art installation examines the city's relationship to Black Austin

A viewer watches a video that's part of an art installation.
A visitor views Ariel René Jackson’s "A Welcoming Place." Photo: Alexandra Vanderhider, courtesy of Women & Their Work

What advice would Black Austinites give to newcomers from communities of color?

That question animates an East Austin art gallery installation examining the long, often inhospitable treatment of African Americans in Austin.

The big picture: Artist Ariel René Jackson's exhibit titled "A Welcoming Place" is chiefly a video collage made of interviews with a half-dozen people about the changing city.

  • The film features Jackson holding a giant, black weather balloon while visiting parts of Austin.

Between the lines: In an artist statement, Jackson says the installation aims at "re-coding meteorological language as a means to shift perspectives of what is understood as knowable."

What they're saying: "Though we are sparsely spread out here, we're here," says one of the interviewees.

  • Citywide, the percentage of Austinites who are Black has been falling.
  • The interviewees include artist Deborah Roberts, photographer Cindy Elizabeth, muralist and University of Texas professor John Yancey and choreographer Michael J. Love.

The bottom line: The arresting, lyrical show runs at Women & Their Work through March 3.

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