Austin, Texas—The Visual Arts Center at The University of Texas at Austin has received a $75,000 grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to support the Fall 2021 exhibition Social Fabric: Art and Activism in Contemporary Brazil. Organized in response to a heightened political and cultural climate in Brazil, Social Fabric seeks to provide a platform for Brazilian artists who are facing increasingly challenging times. 

Co-organized by UT Department of Art and Art History Assistant Professor of Art History and Associate Director of the Center for Latin American Visual Studies (CLAVIS) Adele Nelson and Director of the Visual Arts Center MacKenzie Stevens, Social Fabric will bring together emerging and mid-career Brazilian contemporary artists whose work contends with and is responsive to the democratic erosion in Brazil. Nelson and Stevens position Social Fabric as ideally suited for a university context, and specifically the University of Texas at Austin, because of its strong multidisciplinary faculty working on Brazilian subjects. 

Social Fabric asks us to consider recent political and social changes in Brazil alongside the country’s complicated history and to engage in interdisciplinary inquiry between art history, cultural studies, history, political science and other disciplines,” say Nelson and Stevens. 

The exhibition will feature artists whose work is overtly political, blurring the boundary between art and activism; those whose work engages with environmental issues; and those who consider identity politics and freedom of expression. The exhibition includes artists living and working in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s most populous cities, as well as those from and in some cases still residing in the interior, Amazon, and Northeast of the country—regions long considered peripheral. 

“We are thrilled to make our first grant to the Visual Arts Center at The University of Texas at Austin for Social Fabric: Art and Activism in Contemporary Brazil,” says Rachel Bers, program director at the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. “An ambitious project that promises to bring international attention to the social and political dimensions of contemporary art making in Brazil, Social Fabric exemplifies the foundation’s belief that artists have important contributions to make to conversations about democracy and freedom of expression—in Brazil and around the world.”

The grant will support the production of the exhibition on view from September to December 2021, in addition to research trips to Brazil, and a fully illustrated catalogue, including essays by Nelson and Stevens as well as artist entries and an annotated chronology documenting Brazil’s recent history.

About the Visual Arts Center
The Visual Art Center (VAC) is a cultural hub on the UT Austin campus, where students and faculty from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines come together to think critically about contemporary art. The VAC program is varied and expansive, including solo and group exhibitions with emerging and mid-career artists as well as the work of students from the BFA and MFA programs in studio art. Students and faculty of UT Austin and residents of greater Austin are the core audiences of the VAC, benefiting from the exhibitions, performances, and other forms of public programming, all of which are free. Each year, the VAC hosts two artists-in-residence, who reside in Austin for one month, produce a site-specific work, and engage with students and faculty. The residency is an essential part of the VAC’s mission, which is to provide artists with a platform to experiment, to give students the opportunity to interact with artists from around the world, and to spark conversations that point to the intersections between art and contemporary society.

About the Center for Latin American Visual Studies
Founded in 2009, the Center for Latin American Visual Studies (CLAVIS), a unit of the Department of Art and Art History of The University of Texas at Austin, is a nucleus in the advanced study of modern and contemporary art from the Americas internationally. Focusing on research and graduate education, CLAVIS leverages the unique, world-class resources at UT Austin, including the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, Harry Ransom Center, and scholars of Latin American and Latino studies across campus to build bridges that allow for the reciprocity of ideas and methodologies with colleagues throughout the world.

About The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
In accordance with Andy Warhol’s will, the mission of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts is the advancement of the visual arts. The foundation manages an innovative and flexible grants program while also preserving Warhol’s legacy through creative and responsible licensing policies and extensive scholarly research for ongoing catalogue raisonné projects. To date, the foundation has given over $200 million in cash grants to over 1,000 arts organizations in 49 states and abroad and has donated 52,786 works of art to 322 institutions worldwide. 

About the Department of Art and Art History
The Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin is one of the largest and most diverse in the country. It includes the divisions of Art Education, Art History, and Studio Art and reflects the rigorous standards of a flagship institution, while offering an intimate environment for students to train as scholars, practitioners, and educators in the arts.

Jan. 16, 2020
Faculty & Staff
Art History