Come September, San Antonio is set to host the much-awaited seventh instalment of the Texas Biennial Art Festival, titled A New Landscape, A Possible Horizon.
In a first, the multi-part state-wide art showcase, organized by Austin-based non-profit Big Medium, featuring 51 artists (see full list here) will be held across five Texas galleries in San Antonio and Houston from September 1, 2021, through January 31, 2022.
In another significant twist, the Biennial curators have broadened the scope of the project to include “Texpats”–Texas natives and those with deep connections to the state working in any part of the world–as well as global artists whose art centre around Texas and its history.
From painting, sculpture, experimental video, sound, music and performance, to installation and photo-based works, the exhibition will flirt with an array of genre, highlighting the diversity of contemporary art being produced within the state.
Artistic Directors – Texas Biennial Art Festival
Over the past 18 months, curators and artistic directors Ryan N. Dennis and Evan Garza have visited nearly hundreds of studios—in person before the pandemic and through virtual means since March 2020–to deftly curate a list of selected artists from more than 850 considerations, as per a Big Medium press release.
“Intentionally broad in its scope and organized throughout the pandemic,” noted Garza. “The 2021 Texas Biennial is spread across San Antonio and Houston in order to realise a diversity of practices and explore a vast landscape of disciplines, themes, and historical events relevant to both Texas and contemporary global discourse. Principal themes of the project—the mutable histories contained within objects and people, activism and issues of racial and social justice, and narratives unique to the history and land of Texas—are examined in multiple creative disciplines and across multiple sites,” he added.
Originally planned for Fall 2020, the Texas Biennial was deferred to a later date primarily due to COVID-19-led fears and restrictions. However, the show-runners leveraged the delay to “pause and think about how we can actually activate multiple sites throughout the state to open up some kind dialog and conversation,” Dennis said.
“Although we were faced with several limitations in the last eighteen months, connecting with artists virtually during the pandemic gave us the opportunity to get to know some folks intimately and also consider how to expand the Biennial in several ways. Our desire to partner with incredible museums in San Antonio and Houston, and the need to make decisions based on public health guidelines, led us to organize a project that is iterative in form and expansive in scale,” added Garza and Dennis.
In a bid to overcome the physical limitations of the pandemic, and as a way to connect Biennial artists with audiences anywhere, Big Medium plans to launch a smartphone app that will function as an interpretive guide and include images and information for participating artists, exhibitions, programs, and exhibition partners. The app will also include a schedule of in-person and virtual programs, interpretive materials, a Biennial venue map for visitors to San Antonio, and provide an opportunity for digital commissions.
Texas Biennial Art Festival 2021 Venues in San Antonio & Houston
San Antonio :
- Artpace (August 5–December 26, 2021)
- McNay Art Museum (September 1, 2021–January 9, 2022)
- Studio at Ruby City (August 1, 2021–January 30, 2022)
- San Antonio Museum of Art (August 19–December 5, 2021)
- FotoFest (September 2–November 13, 2021)
Check out our post on Museum Exhibits on offer in San Antonio in May 2021.