“Rise” on Display at Widener Gallery Inspires Conversation Regarding Intersectional Identities

3 min read

Rajsi Rana ’26

News Editor

“Rise” on display at the Widener Gallery at the Austin Arts Center is an eccentric and colorful collection, displaying work by select Studio Arts Postbaccalaureate Fellowship Alumni. The gallery features work by artists Alison Cofrancesco ’20, Sebastian Ebarb ’06, Ilana Harris-Babou, Brenda Ordoñez-Guillén ’22, Samantha Kasubaski Rosado, Harrison Kinnane Smith and Nick Van Zanten. The featured art ranges from several different styles and textures, including paintings, prints, installations, videos and textiles. “Rise” features art inspired by “close observation of current realities and research directed at future change.”

The artwork, a total of 12 pieces each displayed in various manners from canvas to video to physical structures, reflects different aspects of life and contains several layers of commentary. As you walk into the Widener Gallery, one of the first pieces is “Viva Puerto Rico,” created by Rosado. Rosada’s identity as a Puerto Rican and gay woman inspires her art. Her work in this piece focuses on using color, space development and cultural storytelling and depicts different figures and animals. The canvas displays five people standing side by side, with buildings and a palm tree in the background. The piece works with various colors, shades and contrasts.

Rosado’s piece “Golden Hour (¡Gay Creatures Welcome!),” also on display, is an oil painting that displays the hyper-sexualization of lesbian couples. The piece stems from her own experiences of same-sex marriage and the conversations with her Catholic parents. The piece encompasses the ever-changing relationship between same-sex marriage and the church.

The following piece “Let Down Reflex” is a digital piece, displaying a short film exploring the history of breastfeeding for Black mothers in America. The piece’s imagery depicts milk moving and bubbles popping, as Harris-Babou’s relative’s testimony plays as an audio in the background, along with a soundtrack based on “All the Pretty Little Horses,” an African-American lullaby. The different voices in the background delve into personal experiences of breastfeeding. 

“Red Sourcebook,” another piece by Harris- Babou, is also on display across the room from “Let Down Reflex.” “Red Sourcebook,” another digital piece, is a commentary on redlining. The piece displays catalogs from a high-end design company and provides audio of the language used when discussing such home loan tactics.

A striking piece by Ordoñez-Guillén with the name of “Pues así es la vide del immigrate aquí” [loosely translates to “That is the life of an immigrant here”] is a three-foot-tall piece made of steel wire and a colorful cloth scarf. The structure depicts two hands tying the shoelace of one shoe. Ordoñez-Guillén explores resilience within the immigrant experience and strives to provide a lens through which diverse immigrant experiences can be examined.

The gallery as a whole displays art that inspires complex conversation regarding the identity experiences that come with intersectional identities. Each piece displays an element of injustice due to an identity, particularly a gender, sexual and racial identity. The art serves as a reminder that there is work to be done regarding the inequalities faced by current people in hopes of a different future.

You May Also Like

+ There are no comments

Add yours