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Installation view of Diedrick Brackens: darling divined, New Museum, 2019 (image courtesy the Blanton Museum of Art; photo by Dario Lasagni)

AUSTIN, Texas — Metaphor looms large in the art and craft of textiles and has for millennia.

In darling divined, artist Diedrick Brackens’s evocative tapestries rely on the symbolism, allegory, and parable long associated with global cosmologies of weaving.  The exhibition’s nine pieces all explore the intricacies and complexities of identity, woven along the warps and wefts of Black and queer histories.

Diedrick Brackens, “break and tremble” (2019), woven cotton and acrylic yarn, 89 x 93 inches (image courtesy New Museum, New York; photo by Dario Lasagni)

Brackens is pointed in his decision to work with cotton, as “it is tied up in the history of this country, Texas, and my family.”  He offers his art as “something beautiful,” a small tribute to his enslaved ancestors. “I choose to sit at my loom and weave my stories,” he explains in the exhibition’s introductory text.

At the Blanton, “break and tremble” (2019), hangs so that audiences can see its intricate double weave — where one side is the inverse of the other — but the black figure under the horse’s hooves only appears only on one side.  The selective presence of the figure, reminds viewers that which stories are told and why depends on the larger context that they’re woven into.

Drawing inspiration from poet Essex Hemphill’s work, darling divined offers a richly dimensioned exploration of history and identity.

Diedrick Brackens, “the cup is a cloud” (2018), cotton and acrylic yarn and mirrors, 74 x 78 inches (image courtesy the artist; Various Small Fires, Los Angeles / Seoul; and Jack Shainman, New York © Diedrick Brackens)

Diedrick Brackens: darling divined continues through May 16, 2021 at the Blanton Museum of Art (200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Austin, TX).  Organized by the New Museum, New York, the exhibition is curated by Margot Norton and Francesca Altamura. The Blanton’s presentation is organized by Veronica Roberts.

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Lydia Pyne

Lydia Pyne is a writer and historian in Austin, TX, interested in the history of science and material culture. She is the author of Bookshelf (Bloomsbury 2016), Seven Skeletons: The Evolution of the World’s...

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