A new art show just east of downtown is serving San Antonians a different kind of soul food. Now through December 23, the historic Carver Community Cultural Center is displaying more than 40 pieces from Texas artist Arielle Austin. The exhibition, entitled "Soul Food," marks the artist's first solo show in Alamo City.
Inspiration for the collection, says Austin, came from a rather unexpected place: a T-shirt. "After seeing a shirt that read 'soul food' on the front, I was inspired by the idea of us as people being food for each others souls," says Austin. "I began exploring what soul food meant to me personally, [for] my culture, and those around me. From there, I broke all these aspects down to create my own abstract style of painting."
To fund the idea, Austin launched a successful Kickstarter campaign. In addition to entering a new phase in her work, Austin took the opportunity to kickstart a new phase in her life. Originally hailing from Los Angeles, the artist recently left California to establish a studio in Austin.
The resulting show is as dazzling as it is expansive. With dozens of paintings, some of which measure five feet in length, "Soul Food" is a fascinating personal study. Each painting's title draws inspiration from traditional Southern fare (Southern Fried Cabbage and Sweet Tea are among the names) but, according to the artist's brief, is ultimately meant to capture "the essence of what it means to feed your soul — with truth, self-care, light, goodness, nostalgia and new beginnings."
And though it is intensely personal, Austin says she hopes the collection inspires the public in new and innovative ways. "There's something about creating space for others to experience art that brings about a lot of different and cool perspectives one wouldn't have come to on their own," says the artist.