Banners, hanky codes, and hoodies: textiles tend to lead a double life as both functional objects and signifiers of cultural identity and political histories and affiliations. They are deployed by activists, countercultures, and subcultures as a codified language of visual cues, understood only by kin. They envelop black, brown, and queer bodies with a warmth that suggests “we know the same things.” They march in front of crowds and fly above our heads as an acknowledgement of that same collective knowing.

Within/Without, curated by Esaú Betancourt, unpacks the ways in which cultural identities and political actions rely on textiles to transmit information through a visual language of signs and symbols. Exhibiting artists Paige ReitzMaria LunaTasha AbourezkHolly Krankerand Evan Meduna create textile-based work with an emphasis on enacted or signaled identity, solidarity, and a shared aesthetic of resistance that raises the flag of social change on a unified front.     

A performance during the exhibition’s opening December 8th, and a flag making workshop with Tasha Abourezk December 14th, will allow viewers to engage directly with artists and actively respond to the exhibition. 

Esaú Betancourt studied  Latin American Studies and Art History at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and studied Contemporary Latin American Art at Universidad de Belgrano in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2015 he worked with visual art and Indian classical dance artist Kuldeep Singh exploring themes of representation and identity in the modern world at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. Additionally he has explored these themes through research with illustrator Alfredo Franco (Mexico City) and  painter Fidencio Fifield- Perez (Iowa).