Blanton Brings New Art

Lasya Sangana, Staffer

Within the midst of bumbling pedestrians and the car-cramped streets of downtown sits one of Austin’s art museums, the Blanton Art Museum (Blanton). The new contemporary art exhibit by Njideka Akunyili Crosby of large scale paintings, and other exhibits such as Ellsworth Kelly: Postcards and Painted Cloth: Fashion and Ritual in Colonial Latin America are the newest additions to the museum.

Blanton Public Relations & Media Manager Kate Bruton says that in order to create an exhibit, the first step of the creation process is with the curator. According to Bruton, there is a curatorial team where each curator specializes in a different global area. 

“We have a lot of art from Latin America,” Bruton said, “And this was the first museum [in the US] to have a curator dedicated to Latin American art.”

The Blanton also has a curator who specializes in Spanish American art, another for modern and contemporary art, and a final director for European art, as well as prints and drawings. The exhibits are planned several years ahead of time, because the curators need a couple of months to sign contracts and coordinate with other museums to loan pieces of art for the exhibit. 

Bruton feels the diversity of art at the Blanton is especially important due to the mixed culture of Austin and the centrality of the museum in the heart of the city.  Located downtown, the Blanton is right next to the State Capital. 

“It’s on the university campus, but it’s right across from the Capitol, which is  interesting and symbolic,” Bruton said. “It’s an art museum for the University of Texas, but it’s also an art museum for the entire city.”

According to, the museum is not just for students, but it is for all people to come and enjoy it like a laboratory of learning in a fun environment. Blanton Museum Educator Carlen Floyd similarly spoke about the welcoming environment of the Blanton. When she was a kid going to museums, she wasn’t allowed to speak, look too closely, or even sit down. Floyd said she wants the Blanton to be different.

“We really embrace an experience of art,” Floyd said. “When there are particular installations, we invite people to lie down on the floor, to look up. It’s to look at things from different perspectives.”

Floyd feels like the uniqueness of the Blanton exhibits makes the experience more special and valuable. Floyd said that it never gets old to just look at the same piece of art multiple times at the Blanton.

“When you slow down and devote uninterrupted time, energy, and consciousness to looking, there’s nothing like that,” Floyd said. “When you come with other people and have the opportunity [to look at art], we learn so much from each other. That has been one of the things that I just love about looking at art with other people is, the more you look, the more you see.”

According to Floyd, seeing students is always a treat as they teach her something new about a piece of art she’s already seen whenever they come to the museum. Intermediate Art teacher Jessica Fisher strongly agrees that going to art museums is beneficial saying it’s important for students to experience  art.

“It’s creative expression,” Fisher said. “It gives [high schoolers] a way to express themselves and learn different mediums, like technical things.”

Fisher also said the Blanton does a great job curating and displaying art. She loves how there’s always something new and they are always rotating art exhibits, such as Crosby’s contemporary project: a showcase of paintings of plants from Lagos, Nigeria, and Los Angeles, and a self-portrait of her holding her son. According to Floyd, the Blanton’s 20,000 artworks currently not on display ensure that it can continue connecting, challenging, and inspiring people. 

The contemporary project by Njideka Akunyuli Crosby will be up until December 4, Ellsworth Kelly: Postcards wil by up until November 27th, and Painted Cloth: Fashion and Ritual in Colonial Latin America is also up at the Blanton until January 8th.