Day Jobs

Self-portrait by Jay Lynn Gomez
11″x8.5″; acrylic on magazine; 2013. Duròn Family Collection.


Day Jobs

at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas, USA
19 February-23 July 2023

One of the typical measures of success for artists is the ability to quit their day jobs and focus full time on making art. Yet these roles are not always an impediment to an artist’s career. This exhibition illuminates how day jobs can spur creative growth by providing artists with unexpected new materials and methods, working knowledge of a specific industry that becomes an area of artistic interest or critique, or a predictable structure that opens space for unpredictable ideas.

Signaling XVI by Nate Lewis
40″x26″; hand-sculpted inkjet print, ink, graphite, and frottage; 2019. Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Promised gift of Brent Hasty and Stephen Mills, 2020

“Day Jobs”, the first major exhibition to examine the overlooked impact of day jobs on the visual arts, is dedicated to demystifying artistic production and upending the stubborn myth of the artist sequestered in their studio, waiting for inspiration to strike. The exhibition will make clear that much of what has determined the course of modern and contemporary art history are unexpected moments spurred by pragmatic choices rather than dramatic epiphanies. Conceived as a corrective to the field of art history, the exhibition also encourages us to more openly acknowledge the precarious and generative ways that economic and creative pursuits are intertwined.

Same Ol’ Pimp by Mark Bradford
72″x84″; mixed media on canvas; 2004. Collection of Barbara and Michael Gamson.

The exhibition features work produced in the United States after World War II by artists who have been employed in a host of part- and full-time roles: dishwasher, furniture maker, graphic designer, hairstylist, ICU nurse, lawyer, and nanny–and in several cases, as employees of large companies such as Ford Motors, H-E-B Grocery, and IKEA. The exhibition includes approximately 75 works in a broad range of media by emerging and established artists such as Emma Amos, Genesis Belanger, Larry Bell, Mark Bradford, Lenka Clayton, Jeffrey Gibson, Jay Lynn Gomez, Tishan Hsu, VLM (Virginia Lee Montgomery), Ragen Moss, Howardena Pindell, Chuck Ramirez, Robert Ryman, and Fred Wilson, among many others.

(text adapted from material provided by the museum)


Blanton Museum of Art
The University of Texas at Austin
200 East Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard
Austin, Texas 78712 USA
(512) 471-5482

Hours (through 8 May 2023)
[Closed 23 April-3 May 2023]
Wednesday-Saturday, 10AM-5PM
Sunday, 1-5PM
(New hours starting 9 May 2023)