In addition to artists living and working in Texas, the Biennial curators have broadened the scope of the project to include “Texpats,” i.e. Texas natives and artists with deep connections to the Lone Star State working in any part of the world. In another first, the 2021 Texas Biennial will also feature international artists for whom Texas and its history are subject matter.
“Intentionally broad in its scope and organized throughout the pandemic,” Garza explains, “the 2021 Texas Biennial is spread across San Antonio and Houston in order to realize a diversity of practices and explore a vast landscape of disciplines, themes, and historical events relevant to both Texas and contemporary global discourse. Principal themes of the project—the mutable histories contained within objects and people, activism and issues of racial and social justice, and narratives unique to the history and land of Texas—are examined in multiple creative disciplines and across multiple sites.”
Dennis adds, “I am thrilled to be in dialogue with our artists about what has been resonating with them. It is such an unprecedented time to be making work and having a specificity around Texas and the influence of this complex state. My hope is that people explore with us, with our artists, the expansiveness of the constellation we are creating with some beautiful, brilliant minds.”
Artists featured in the 2021 Texas Biennial range from emerging artists and collectives to well‑established and internationally celebrated artists working in sculpture, film and experimental video, photo-based media, installation, sound, painting, printmaking, music and performance, social practice, and public art. The curators selected artists from more than 850 considerations over the last 18 months. Both Garza and Dennis performed hundreds of studio visits—in person before the pandemic and exclusively through virtual means since March 2020. Shortly after their appointment to curate the Texas Biennial, both Dennis and Garza moved with their respective partners and families out of Texas—Dennis to Jackson, Mississippi, and Garza to Washington, D.C.—immediately followed by the coronavirus pandemic and a year in lockdown. Separated from each other, their Big Medium team in Texas, and artists across the country by thousands of miles, Dennis and Garza organized the 2021 Texas Biennial via Zoom, FaceTime, email, phone, and text with the aid of curatorial and production assistant, Rigoberto Luna, in San Antonio and the support of Coka Treviño, Shea Little, and Big Medium in Austin.
Garza and Dennis added, “Although we were faced with several limitations in the last eighteen months, connecting with artists virtually during the pandemic gave us the opportunity to get to know some folks intimately and also consider how to expand the Biennial in several ways. Our desire to partner with incredible museums in San Antonio and Houston, and the need to make decisions based on public health guidelines, led us to organize a project that is iterative in form and expansive in scale.”