ArtsResponders Dougherty Arts Center

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department’s Division of Museums and Cultural Programs has launched ArtsResponders: Social Practice Responds to COVID-19. Sites including The Dougherty Arts Center, the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, the George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center, the Asian American Resource Center, as well as the Elisabet Ney Museum and Oakwood Cemetery Chapel, have commissioned artists to train in Social Practice and engage the community in an artistic response to cope with and overcome COVID-19.

Through a juried process, the Dougherty Arts Center selected two artists and their Social Practice projects. Learn more about Sarah Wilson and Caroline Walker and browse the content on this page, view their websites, watch the recorded virtual Artist Talk, and use the link below to take a self-guided tour of the completed artworks!


ABOUT THE ARTIST: Caroline Walker is a multi-disciplinary artist. Finding a meeting point between traditional materials and new technology is of key interest in her work. She received a B.S. in engineering; however, she went on to have a successful career as an interactive designer and art director in New York. Motivated by a lifelong interest in creating, Walker moved to Austin in 2015 in order to have more time to work on art. Her work has been included in numerous shows in Austin and the greater Austin area. In 2019, her work won 1st place in the three-dimensional category at Georgetown Art Center. That same year, Walker received a Bronze Award from Bastrop Art in Public Places for one of her augmented reality sculptures. She continues to experiment with ways to combine the digital and the traditional into two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and installation work.


Heart hosted by Art for the People Gallery.

ABOUT THE PROJECT: This project is bringing together the collective voices of our community, who are now practicing social-distancing due to COVID-19, to create physical artworks. The public was invited to contribute a brief message about the friends, family, and routines that have helped get them through the last several months of the pandemic. A template was made available for download on Caroline Walker’s site. Submissions included drawings, written statements, and voice recordings. These submissions have become part of digitally created mosaics and placed around Austin. Use your phone to trigger an augmented reality experience with audio.

Heart hosted by Prizer Arts & Letters Gallery.

Right: Heart hosted by Neill-Cochran House Museum.


ABOUT THE ARTIST: Wilson is an Austin-raised photographer and cinematographer. Much of her work has focused on communities in crisis. Through portraiture and documentary storytelling, she's been fortunate to tell multi-faceted visual stories of disparate communities. From blind teens at the Texas School for the Blind, to a town reeling from a brutal murder; from victims of the Bastrop fires, survivors of the UT Tower shooting, to teenage girls at rock n’ roll camp, paleontologists in West Texas, and even an enclave of Central Texas nudists, her work finds the connections through community. She seeks to honor individuals and to explore our greater shared humanity. Wilson states, "This work is a privilege."


Sarah Wilson photographing Michelle, an Austin Embalmer.

ABOUT THE PROJECT: In Spring 2020, Austin Mayor Adler’s shelter-in-place order called for citizens to self-isolate, all citizens except those doing specific, identified essential work. Many of these workers are women who risk their own safety and health to support the immediate needs of the community. In return we must also support and celebrate them. Wilson called for nominations from the Austin community, encouraging nominations of ALL women including gender-fluid/non-binary and trans women essential workers. Family, friends, and coworkers were invited to submit a description and photo of their loved one in essential service. Selected nominees have been photographed and their images turned into larger-than-life wheat pasted portaits on buildings across Austin.

Keyanna, a Medical Assistant with Community Care COVID Unit.

Left: Elicia, the first woman hired as Crew Chief for the city of Austin Public Works Dept. - Street and Bridge Operations.


The Dougherty Arts Center hosted a virtual Artist Talk featuring both Sarah Wilson and Caroline Walker on January 13, 2021. View the recorded version here and listen in as each artist discusses their artistic background, the progress of their social practice projects, and the inspiration behind their message.



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Dougherty Arts Center