New at Blue Star Contemporary: Spring exhibitions 'Threads Bare' and the 'Black Art Library'
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New at Blue Star Contemporary: Spring exhibitions 'Threads Bare' and the 'Black Art Library'
Juan Carlos Escobedo, Shirt, 2021. Cardboard and cut paper. Courtesy of the artist.

SAN ANTONIO, TX.- Blue Star Contemporary, San Antonio’s first and longest-running contemporary art nonprofit, announces spring exhibitions Threads Bare in BSC’s Main Gallery and the Black Art Library in the Art Learning Lab.

Threads Bare, on view through May 8, is an exhibition investigating intersections of art and fashion through textiles and related materials as medium or subject to generate a more expansive understanding of how fashion and adornment play a role in defining individual and cultural identities.

As issues of identity remain at the forefront of political and cultural discourses, the activation of fashion as a means of self-expression continuously evolves. A prevailing impulse to generate autonomy through clothing and accessories serves to comfort and confront our understandings of who we are internally, externally, and collectively.
In an era where performances of identity are increasingly virtual, Threads Bare highlights the significance of materiality and its foundations to these simulations. The viewer enters a window to a profusion of histories, provoking questions of our present, and unearthing inherited complexities of American identities and pathways to acknowledgment, healing, and envisioning the future.

The exhibition was curated by BSC’s Curator and Exhibitions Manager Jacqueline Saragoza McGilvray and features the work of Preetika Rajgariah, Juan Carlos Escobedo, Mickalene Thomas, Audrya Flores, C. Rose Smith, and Luis Valderas.

Preetika Rajgariah (she/her) is an Indian American visual artist who explores the complexities that arise when cultures intersect and creates work that expands how we think about an increasingly globalized world today. Through object making, video installation, and performance, she weaves together her unique life experiences as a queer, Indian born Texan, with culturally loaded materials to explore the ways in which an immigrant experience counters and aligns with a quintessential, classic American upbringing.

Rajgariah has attended residencies at Oxbow School of Art, ACRE, Vermont Studio Center, and the School of Visual Arts, and she has exhibited at a variety of spaces such as Western Exhibitions and Roots & Culture in Chicago as well as Art League Houston, Lawndale Art Center, and Women & Their Work in Texas. She received her MFA from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and currently lives and works in Houston, Texas.

Juan Carlos Escobedo (he/him) Explores his identity as a brown, Mexican-American queer male, raised in a low-socioeconomic community along the US/Mexico border. His work discusses residual class and race shame that arises from living in a predominantly “white” structured United States which favors light-skinned individuals and middle-class and above socioeconomic classes.

Escobedo holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from New Mexico State University and received an MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

Mickalene Thomas (she/her) (lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) makes paintings, collages, photography, video, and installations that draw on art history and popular culture to create a contemporary vision of female sexuality, beauty, and power. Blurring the distinction between object and subject, concrete and abstract, real and imaginary, Thomas constructs complex portraits, landscapes, and interiors in order to examine how identity, gender, and sense-of-self are informed by the ways women (and “feminine” spaces) are represented in art and popular culture.

Thomas received a B.F.A. from the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY in 2000 and an M.F.A. from Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT.

Audrya Flores (she/her) is a Tejana artist, educator, and mother from Brownsville, Texas who creates assemblage and installation work exploring themes of healing. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She has exhibited at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Mexic-Arte Museum, Lady Base Gallery, Provenance Gallery, Luminaria Contemporary Arts Festival, Centro de Artes, and Central Library Gallery at San Antonio Public Library. Flores lives and works in San Antonio, Texas.

C. Rose Smith (she/her/they) is a lens-based artist and archivist whose work interrogates and challenges the covert and overt presence of patriarchy from the 19th- 21st century. Particularly, Smith examines chattel slavery, a device for and of industry that forged and sustained the American economy through the trade of raw materials.

Smith holds a BFA in Photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta, Georgia and is currently an MFA candidate at the Rochester Institute of Technology, fashion, representation, identity, and American history, serve as frameworks for their thesis, Scenes of Self: Objecting Patriarchy. Their research is grounded in the mining of photographic and textile collections across the northeast to engage histories past, present, and future. They are a museum cataloguer at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, NY and an intern in photo conservation at Graphics Atlas in the Image Permanence Institute on RIT’s campus.

Luis Valderas (he/him) received a BFA in Secondary Art Education from the University of Texas-Pan American. Valderas co-founded Project: MASA I, II, and III, a national group exhibit featuring Latino artist and focusing in Chicano identities. He is also the co-founder of 3rd Space Art Gallery, a space devoted to representing current trends in the San Antonio visual arts scene, A3—Agents of Change LLC, a public art community engagement collaborative. Valderas has had the opportunity to show not only locally and nationally, but also internationally. His work was exhibited at OSDE Espacio de Arte in Buenos Aires, Argentina and the Medellin Museum of Art in Medellin, Colombia. Valderas’ work has been featured in books such as: Altermundos-Latin@ Speculative Literature, Film, and Popular Culture. Mundos Alternos-Art and Science Fiction in the Americas. Chicano Art for Our Millennium-2004 and Triumph in Our Communities: Four Decades of Mexican American Art-2005.

The Black Art Library, on view through March 27, was created in 2020 by curator Asmaa Walton as a tool to educate people on the arts. Walton’s academic background in art education and personal interest in Black art drives the focus of the library and desire to help others discover more about Black art, as it has historically been lacking in art education.

“I want to create a space where people of all ages can come to spend time with these books and learn things that they did not have the opportunity to learn in school or at home” says Walton “I want the Black Art Library to be a place local students can come to do research for a project, self-taught artists can be inspired by images that they see between the pages, and art lovers can spend a day falling in love with the work of an artist they had never even heard about before.”

The collection includes exhibition catalogues, children’s books, artist memoirs, artist biographies, art history texts, and other art-related ephemera that focuses on Black artists and Black art history. The collection is meant to be accessible for people at all levels of education to reduce the intimidation that many feel when entering art institutions and other art spaces, and there are items that would be of interest to art historians and individuals new to the arts alike. The Black Art Library was inspired by spaces such as The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and projects such as the Free Black Women’s Library, but exclusive to material focused on Black visual arts and the history that informs it. Blue Star Contemporary is pleased to be the first arts organization outside of Michigan to host the Black Art Library. In the future, Walton plans for the Black Art Library to be a physical space that acts as a non-lending library based in Detroit.

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