Skip to content Skip to footer


September 17, 2022–February 12, 2023

Titled after a text by Jenny Holzer, IN A DREAM YOU SAW A WAY TO SURVIVE AND YOU WERE FULL OF JOY features works by eight female artists—Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley, Adriana Corral, Ellie Ga, Juliana Huxtable, Tala Madani, Danielle McKinney, Wendy Red Star, and Clare Rojas. The exhibition addresses a range of issues facing our society today, as the artworks on view critically evaluate intersections of narrative, identity, and power. 

The evocative title, which comes from Holzer’s Survival (1983–85) series, conveys a tale of possibilities and poses important queries to ponder in relation to the works of art gathered for this project: Who, and under what circumstances, must fight for survival? What does survival entail for people as well as communities? How can we find joy and work together to improve our society using the instruments of our imaginations? The included artists address societal injustices and foresee ways to a different and better future, as Holzer’s text implies. Their works analyze institutions that restrict and exclude people whose lives are not privileged within the mainstream patriarchal power structure, even as they make room for new forms of representation, through confronting identity and history in ways informed by feminism and other political philosophy.

Dreams can serve as sources of inspiration that inspire us to make changes in our life. Similar techniques of exploring and influencing reality are provided by storytelling and other approaches to narrative forms. The artworks in this exhibition use these imaginative techniques to provide a haven from oppressive systems and to highlight important viewpoints that may aid in dismantling those systems. The featured artists encourage us to tell new stories about who we are and what is possible for each of us by reflecting on the social and historical contexts that underlie our ways of being in the world. They do this by encouraging us to envision happier, more fair worlds.

The Contemporary Austin has erected a brand-new public mural of Holzer’s IN A DREAM… lettering on the museum’s downtown building façade in conjunction with the show and in partnership with the artist. The show also includes a brand-new augmented reality piece by Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley that the museum commissioned in collaboration with Meta Open Arts and a brand-new outdoor sculpture that Clare Rojas was commissioned to create for the Laguna Gloria sculpture park.

IN A DREAM YOU SAW A WAY TO SURVIVE AND YOU WERE FULL OF JOY is curated by Robin K. Williams, Curator, with Julie Le, Assistant Curator, The Contemporary Austin.  

The Contemporary Austin
700 Congress Avenue
Austin, TX

T +1 512 453 5312
[email protected]
Instagram / Facebook / Twitter