Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Unveiling visions at the McNay

Lauren Hernandez

​With a chorus of voices echoing through its halls, the McNay Art Museum’s latest exhibit, “Prints by Contemporary Black Artists,” is a powerful tribute to Black artists’ ongoing legacy and significant contributions to modern art. Each artwork on display provides a captivating glimpse into the Black experience, ranging from powerful visual narratives exploring themes of identity, history and social justice to bold expressions of cultural pride and resilience.

​Curated by Douglass Foundation Intern Chloe Feyock and McNay’s Curator of Prints and Drawings in Modern Art Lyle Williams, this exhibit was created to elevate Black voices. Within the “Prints by Contemporary Black Artists” exhibit, artists Derrick Adams, Kara Walker and Radcliffe Bailey’s artworks are displayed, each depicting different yet alluring pieces that possess characteristics of happiness, fantasy storytelling and historical components. 

“We went through a couple of rounds at looking at the collection and creating a bigger checklist, then reducing that a little further until we found the vision that we wanted,” Feyock said. “And that looked like three artists who were all speaking about their experience or how they felt about being a Black American and the history of that in that country.”

​The first pieces displayed are by Adams and titled “How I Spent My Summer.” His work includes nine screen prints depicting Black children having fun in the summer. The main subject matter of these vibrant prints is children and pool floaties. Rather than using images filled with trauma that rob people of their agency, the narrative behind Adam’s pieces highlights Black individuals’ joys and everyday experiences, capturing their fun and innocence. ​“We should make art about this,” Adams said. “This is what art should be made about.”

​Further into the exhibit, we see various prints by Walker in a series titled “Sheet from Testimony,” Using the process of photogravures, a print process used to produce high-quality reproductions of photographs in ink, her prints showcase the story of a stereotyped Black woman and her journey in revolting against her enslaver. In the pictures, the figure of the woman riding a horse is seen being moved by Walker’s hands, indicating a power shift. In a different print in the series, the same person is seen clutching what looks to be a firearm as a man with confined hands lowers his head in surrender. This depiction of the figures demonstrates how, in an imagined uprising, the woman has turned the tables on her enslaver. With her work, Walker reshapes the complex mythology of the American South and sheds light on the horrible potential of humanity by utilizing shadow puppets and the photogravure process.

​One of the last pieces of work depicted in the exhibit was by Bailey. His work combines traditional printmaking techniques with collage elements and oil-stick drawings. The exhibit displayed four of his works titled: “Until I Die/Crossing,” “Tobacco Blues,” Between Two Worlds” and “Lebga.” He relates his work to themes of memory, family history and the history of African-Americans in the U.S. In his work “Legba,” Bailey depicts an immersive collage with a black and red color scheme that contains various gestural lines, handwritten texts and loose sketches with a centered focus on what is assumed to be a picture of a family member. Bailey immerses his own story in his work by using family history and including photogravures of family members.

This exhibition delves into the complexities of Black identity, history and culture in America through the artist’s unique styles and captivating stories. The exhibit not only showcases the talent of these artists but also highlights the relevance and influence of contemporary Black art today. 

To learn more, visit the McNay Art Museum website or visit their location at 6000 N New Braunfels. The exhibit will be up and running until March 17.

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About the Contributors
Naydine De La Fuente, Copyediting Coordinator
Naydine De La Fuente (she/her) is an English major with a double concentration in professional and creative writing with a minor in communication. She joined The Paisano during the spring 2023 term in order to indulge in her passion for writing. In the future, she plans to pursue a career in journalism or publishing in hopes to utilize her writing skills. Outside of the organization, she enjoys reading, journaling and spending time with friends, family and her dog.
Lauren Hernandez, Assistant Arts & Life Editor
Lauren (she/her) is a second year English student at UTSA. After graduation she plans on attending law school. Outside of The Paisano you can usually find her at a concert taking pictures, hiking in the woods, watching movies or thrifting with her sister.

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