The ISESE Gallery
John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin
From Press Release:
Historical Present surveys photographs and mixed media works by Capistran and Yanas. Capistran’s photographs include painted tools of political dissent common during the civil rights and liberation movements of the 1950s to 1970s. Objects include a Molotov cocktail and protest sign painted white and photographed against white backgrounds. The associations of the color with ideas such as surrender, white-wash, and rebirth interest the artist. Indeed, he urges viewers to consider the various metaphorical implications of the whitened objects.
Yanas draws from the archives of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History and the Austin History Center, among other places for Historical Present. His photographs depict flyers, newsletters, and other ephemera made by activists from across the nation and especially those from the Austin community. Thus the artist encourages viewers to consider local activist histories alongside better-known narratives of political resistance.
Both artists have a particular interest in minimalism, a trend in sculpture and painting that arose in the 1950s and is characterized by the use of simple, minimal, forms that are often repeated in sequence. They find the rise of the stripped down, structured style of art striking, especially against the tumultuous context of civil rights histories. Within the works of Capistran and Yanas, a fascinating interplay between the two disparate, overlapping movements occur. The reductive single-color or monochromatic art of Capistran and serial grid works of Yanas are at once private meditations on the political relevance of art and public appeals for reawakened political consciousness.
Historical Present is curated by Rose G. Salseda, Ph.D. candidate in Art History at UT Austin. She will lead a talk with Capistran and Yanas at the opening of the exhibition.