Art League Houston is excited to announce that the 2016-2017 season will include exhibitions and art projects by the following artists:
Prince Varughese Thomas, Ann Johnson, Regina Agu, Rabéa Ballin, Lauren Kelley, Rosine Kouamen, Autumn Knight, Lovie Olivia, Kaneem Smith, Monica Villarreal, J. Pouwels, Benjamin Terry, Shane Allbritton and Peter Bernick-Allbritton, Edward Kelley, and Hazel Meyer.
The Space Between Grief and Morning
Prince Varughese Thomas
Exhibition dates: March 24 – May 6, 2017
Opening reception: 6 – 9 PM Friday, March 24, 2017
Main Gallery I Artist talk: 6:30 PM
Art League Houston (ALH) is excited to present The Space Between Grief and Morning by Houston-based artist Prince Varughese Thomas. The exhibition features an interdisciplinary series of work that metaphorically explores the process of grief and mourning in private and public contexts. Through a combination of drawing, video and photography, the artist draws on art historical, political and personal references about death, as it relates to personal and communal loss. Not only do the works in this exhibition captivatingly explore the transition of life from physical to spiritual planes, they also carefully reframe the distinct moments that express painful loss in global terms, directly speaking to the contemporary state of the world. The exhibition includes an original sound composition by Houston Composer Joel Love, and original choral composition by Composer Nick Rissman.
Thomas’s personal experience of loss provides a thematic and emotional touchstone for this exhibition. “In 2014, I lost my father,” says the artist. “I had been his primary care-giver for over ten years, having moved him and my mother to live with me in Houston. During this time, I had taken care of every aspect of my father’s daily needs while witnessing the slow process of aging, disease, and its effects on the body”. This body of work takes this very personal experience of loss and translates it to a larger audience by exploring grief and mourning in its various forms.
The cyclical nature of life, and the transition from physical to spiritual planes are concepts explored in the exhibition by Resurrection, a single channel video incorporating 3D audio. The video integrates the sound of the artist’s father’s heartbeat with video of blood pumping through his body. The moon, a significant element within the video, has a rich tradition in many cultural histories as a referent for death and metaphorically acts as the vessel for this work.
The exhibition also features Ancestors, a series of photographs inspired by four generations of funeral photos from the artist’s family’s archives. The photographs reference photography’s historical tradition with documenting death, while metaphorically speaking about communal and personal loss. The moon is a recurring element within these images, referencing the mythological associations with death throughout cultures.
Mourners, a 2 channel video incorporating Stereo and 3D audio explores the artist’s fascination with the role of professional mourners. This practice is not unusual in many African and Asian countries when there are few family members to actually grieve for the deceased, but is now surfacing more in Western Societies. The video features a group of actors performing as mourners for a fictitious death, alongside a group of vocalists who perform an original choral composition which musically reinterprets people grieving by Composer Nick Rissman. The piece creates a dialog between the two group’s interpretations on being mourners while metaphorically speaking to our contemporary times.
Additionally, the exhibition features The Space Between Grief and Morning, a series of high contrast minimal charcoal drawings inspired by various tragic events that have occurred around the world that speak to our contemporary times. Murder, violence, migration, terrorism, and environmental tragedies are a few examples of the events that sparked the creation of these drawings, which pull from press photographs documenting the pain, suffering, and grieving of family members of these various events that have occurred globally. From these original press photos, the artist distilled, fragmented, and restructured the distinct moments that express painful loss in global terms and directly speaks to the contemporary state of the world. The title of each drawing reflects the specific location and date of a particular event that the drawing is referencing.
This exhibition is generously sponsored in part by Jereann Chaney, 3DIO, The Smither - Langley - Johnson Families, Picture Plus, Linda Shearer, Kenny Trull with Valspar Paint and Clint Willour. Special thanks to the Station Museum of Contemporary Art.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Prince Varughese Thomas is an artist who is part of what has come to be known as the Indian Diaspora. “Being Indian by birth, born in Kuwait, naturalized in the US, and raised primarily between India and the United States, I have felt outside the dominant culture in which I exist. This sense of being the 'Other' has influenced how I view the world, approach my conceptual concerns, and create art. With an educational background and degrees in both Psychology and Art, I investigate and deconstruct complex sociopolitical issues from the interstices in personally expressive ways that humanize my subjects while incorporating a variety of photographic, video, and installation techniques into my artwork. My work has been characterized as poetic moments captured in chaotic worlds”.
A winner of the Time-Based Media in Art Prize 7 and a Texas Biennial Artist, Thomas has been invited to be a visiting artist, lecturer, panel discussant, and workshop instructor at numerous institutions including Ashkal Alwan Beirut, Lebanon; Indiana University; Memphis College of Art; the Light Factory, and the Queens Museum. Thomas’ work has been exhibited in over 150 solo and group exhibitions at numerous museums, galleries, and alternative spaces. His work is represented in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Thomas received his B.A. in Psychology from the University of Texas at Arlington, and M.F.A. from the University of Houston. He is currently a Professor of Art at Lamar University.
How Do I Say Her Name?
Organized by Ann Johnson
ARTISTS: Regina Agu, Rabéa Ballin, Ann Johnson, Lauren Kelley, Autumn Knight, Rosine Kouman, Lovie Olivia, Kaneem Smith, and Monica Villarreal
Exhibition dates: March 24 – May 6, 2017
Opening reception: 6 – 9 PM Friday, March 24, 2017
Front Gallery I Artist talk: 7:00 PM
Art League Houston (ALH) is excited to present How Do I Say Her Name? a group exhibition organized by Houston-based multidisciplinary artist Ann Johnson. The exhibition features a selection of multidisciplinary work by nine women artists of color; Regina Agu, Rabéa Ballin, Ann Johnson, Lauren Kelley, Rosine Kouamen, Autumn Knight, Lovie Olivia, Kaneem Smith, and Monica Villarreal. The works in this exhibition are made in direct response to the countless number of women, specifically women of color who have been victims of violence but whose stories have been erased from the larger demonstrations and narratives surrounding state violence and the demand for a broader vision of social justice.
“JULY 2015 changed me. For the first time in twenty-six years I was nervous about driving into Waller County. During the thirty minute commute to Prairie View from my house I was constantly telling myself don’t forget to use your blinker when you exit University Drive. You see that was what reportedly happened to Sandra Bland. She was pulled over and three days later was found dead in a Waller County jail” - Ann Johnson
Recently there has been much attention paid to the #blacklivesmatter movement in the form of protests, marches and riots. The largest forms of protest and activism have been in response to the deaths of black males. But what about the women like Rekia Boyd, and Reneisha McBride? What about the mothers of Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin? Or a mother being arrested for defending her child that was assaulted by a grown man? How many more news stories will we watch of little brown girls being slammed to the ground by law enforcement? So many women are on the front lines of the protests, but rarely are the large protests and marches about women who have suffered the same fate as men with similar circumstances.
How Do I Say Her Name? features a dynamic group of women artists who creatively respond to these issues, as it relates to women of color. Throughout the course of the exhibition, there will be performances and a panel discussion addressing issues related to the #sayhername movement.
This exhibition is generously sponsored in part by Hooks-Epstein Galleries, Anita and Gerald Smith, Linda Darke, Dr. Alvia Wardlaw and Kenny Trull with Valspar Paint.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Ann 'Sole Sister' Johnson is an artist who paints portraits with her feet. Yes her feet! Born in London, England and raised in Cheyenne, WY, Ann is a graduate of Prairie View A&M University in Texas, (where she now teaches) and received a BS in Home Economics. She has also received an MA in Humanities from the University of Houston-Clear Lake, as well as an MFA from The Academy of Art University, in San Francisco with a concentration in printmaking. In 2010 she received the Teaching Excellence Award at Prairie View A&M University, and was awarded Art teacher of the year in the School of Architecture. In 2011 she received the distinguished Presidents Faculty of the Year award. Primarily a mixed media artist, Johnson’s passion for exploring issues particularly in the Black community has led her to create series’ of works that are evocative and engaging such as The Hoop Dreamin Collection. This is a series of decorative basketball goals that explores the social issue of a Hoop Dream. The series, It Is The Not Knowing That Burns My Soul, is an investigation of exploratory mixed media works that examine the “Black Indian. The latter was included in an exhibition and catalog for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian titled: Indivisible. She has been invited to teach at Tougaloo Art Colony in Jackson, MS in 2009, 2011 and 2015. Ann's work has been exhibited nationally in solo, group and juried exhibitions. She was a Prize winner in Houston’s “The Big Show” in 2004, and was the Mixed Media winner in the Carroll Harris Simms National Black Art Competition in 2007. Johnson was also included in the Texas Biennial in 2013. Most recently Johnson has focused on experimental printmaking, and in 2015 she was acknowledged as an “Artist to Watch” in the International Review of African American Art. Her series Converse: Real Talk has been exhibited at Women and Their Work in Austin, TX, Deborah Colton Gallery in Houston, TX and The Community Art Center in Syracuse, NY. She has exhibited at The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, TX, The Museum of Printing History, Houston, TX, Women and Their Work Gallery, Austin, TX, Project Row Houses, Houston, TX, Tisdale Beach Institute, Savannah, GA, Charles H. Wright Museum, Flint, MI, The Apex Museum in Atlanta, GA, The 2016 Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, PA, and The California African American Art Museum in Los Angeles, CA. Johnson has published several articles for School Arts magazine (Davis), and has written and designed a number of books including: I’ll Fly Away (Solefolio Press), Bās (Solefolio Press), Paper & Ink (blurb), ROUX (Solefolio Press), Craft$ For The No Budget Art Teacher (Solefolio Press), Unapologetic and STIR (Solefolio Press). Ann 'Sole Sister' Johnson aspires to leave a legacy of challenging and thought provoking work that will entice the viewer and inspire younger artists. Johnson is represented by Hooks Epstein Gallery in Houston, TX. www.solesisterart.com
Regina Agu is an artist and writer based in Houston, TX. Agu is a 2016-2017 Open Sessions participant at the Drawing Center in NYC. She is the co-director of Alabama Song, which received a 2016 SEED grant from the Rauschenberg Foundation. Agu’s work has been included in exhibitions, public readings and performances at multiple venues nationally. Agu’s published experimental texts include ON |OFF (onestar press, Paris, France via Book Machine, Houston), Visible Unseen (Nyx, a nocturnal, Goldsmiths, University of London), and Index, With and for: “Black Mo'nin',” by Fred Moten (Book Club Book, Future Plan and Program). www.reginaagu.com
Rabéa Ballin moved to Houston to pursue her MFA in drawing and painting at the University of Houston in 2003. She earned her BFA in Fine Art from McNeese State University. During her years at McNeese she returned to Germany to reconnect to her birthplace and attend the Goethe Institute, subsequently studying Art History in Rome and Florence, Italy.
Currently a professor of fine arts, Rabéa is living and working in Houston’s historical Third Ward community and exhibiting nationally. She continues to explore personal narratives as it relates to her multi-cultural upbringing and her deep connection to hair politics through printmaking, drawing and photography. www.rabea-ballin.com
Lauren Kelley is a 2015 Creative Capital Award winner and a 2011 Louis Comfort Tiffany Award recipient. Currently, Kelley serves as Associate Director, Curatorial Programs at the Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art and Storytelling in Harlem, New York. She has been a resident of the Skowhegan School, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Glassell School's Core Program and the Studio Museum in Harlem. This year the artist is also a resident at the Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation's Studio Program. Her work has been exhibited in such venues as the New Museum, Spelman College Museum of Fine Arts, Sikkema Jenkins & Co., and the Contemporary Art Museum Houston. Reviews of her work have appeared in The Huffington Post, New York Times, The New Yorker, Art:21 Blog, Art in America, ArtLies, Houston Chronicle and Houston Press.
Rosine Kouamen is a visual artist based in Houston, TX who works with numerous media, including photography, sculpture, installation, fabrics, and more, to create a dynamic body of work. Her artistic practice endeavors to capture the transformation of humanity through visual narratives. She is concerned with global issues affecting gender, urbanism, the African identity and how they all work to affect the our visual experiences. Kouamen was born in Douala, Cameroon and immigrated to the United States as a teenager. Her work is very influenced by her
experiences an immigrant and as a global citizen. She is a graduate of Washington and Lee University (BA, ’05), the San Francisco Art Institute (BFA, ‘09) and the University of Houston (MFA, ’12). She participated in the first residency at Rice University's Emergency Room and also participated in the Jackman Goldwasser Residency at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago. She has exhibited at Texas Southern University Museum, Project Row Houses, Art League Houston, Lawndale Art Center, Texas Contemporary Art Fair (ARTADIA finalist ’12), Main Street Project, DiverseWorks, Art Place, Blaffer Museum, Lone Star Studios, Blue Star Lab In San Antonio and the Swell Gallery in San Francisco. www.rosinekouamen.com
Autumn Knight is an interdisciplinary artist working with performance, installation and text. Her performance work has been in group exhibitions at various institutions including DiverseWorks Artspace, Art League Houston, Project Row Houses, Blaffer Art Museum, Crystal Bridges Museum, Skowhegan Space (NY), The New Museum, The Contemporary Art Museum Houston, and Krannart Art Museum (IL). Knight has been in residence with with In-Situ (UK), Galveston Artist Residency, YICA (Yamaguchi, Japan) and Artpace (San Antonio, TX).She attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2016) and holds an M.A. in Drama Therapy from New York University. In 2015, Knight was an Artadia awardee. Knight is currently a 2016-2017 artist in residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem (NY). www.autumnjoiknight.com
Houston-based visual artist Kaneem Smith recently served as a visiting faculty member in the Sculpture Program at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. She had also taught arts courses at the University of Houston/Downtown, the University of North Texas and at Texas Women’s University in Denton. Ms. Smith studied at the Maryland Institute, College of Art and Rice University before receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Syracuse University. She had also previously taught in the visual arts programs at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, the University of North Texas in Denton and at Texas Women’s University. Ms. Smith is currently working towards earning a PhD in Art Theory and Philosophy through the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts.
Among her many accomplishments, exhibitions, awards and residencies, she was the recipient of an Edward F. Albee Grant and a Visual Arts Fellowship from the Creative Capital Foundation in New York. She has been an Artadia award finalist and in she co-organized the 2015 Texas Sculpture Symposium, which featured visual artists and scholars Judy Pfaff and Ken Little. She has been awarded a residency with the Sculpture Space Foundation in New York that she will begin in 2018.
Lovie Olivia is a native Houstonian and a visual artist who employs painting, printmaking, and installation to create her works. Although her past includes some formal artistic training, including graduating from Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, she mostly relies on her independent studies of art, cultures, music, literature and history to influence her work. She has exhibited at, Vanderbilt University Nashvelle, Jam Gallery - Brooklyn NY, Pillow – Brooklyn NY, 36 Steps Gallery – Pittsburgh PA, The Art League Houston, Darke Gallery, GalleryM2, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Project Row Houses, and the Arthello Beck Gallery in Dallas as well as Houston Museum of African American Culture and more. Olivia’s work hangs in numerous private and public collections and her decorative interior and restorative painting applications can be found in many homes and businesses, throughout Houston. In addition to her multifaceted approach to visual art, she enjoys teaching drawing at Art League and painting at High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. She continues to volunteer and collaborate with organizations like Project Row Houses, Houston Arts Alliance, Art League and Diverse Works to name a few. Olivia is also a recipient of an Individual Artist Grant Award 2009 and 2014 which is funded by the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance. www.lovieolivia.com
Monica Villarreal is an interdisciplinary artist native to Houston. Her art explores ethnic identity, gender roles, migrant and environmental issues. She is a recipient of multiple awards in photography and filmmaking, and has participated in installation and performing art productions organized by Voices Breaking Boundaries, Project Row Houses, Houston Arts Alliance, Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts, Santa Fe Arts Institute, and Alabama Song.
Monica studied typography under Mainz Gutenberg Award winner Mahendra Patel and is currently learning printmaking from Master Printer Armando Rodriguez. She has a B.A. in Entrepreneurship from the University of Houston and an M.A. in Digital Media Studies from the University of Houston-CL. Monica wears various hats, as the founder of Creative Women Unite, a local feminist arts collaborative and as a traditional Aztec dancer with Danza Azteca Taxcayolot, a local group that practices Mexican indigenous traditions through spirituality, and community engaging performances. She has over a decade of experience organizing with local grassroots and nonprofit organizations. www.lamonicavillarreal.com
Exhibition dates: March 24 – May 6, 2017
Opening reception: 6 – 9 PM Friday, March 24, 2017
Hallway Space I Artist talk: 6:15 PM
Art League Houston (ALH) is excited to present Dysfunctional Systems by New Zealand-born and California-based artist J. Pouwels. The exhibit continues the artist’s exploration into the rising issues related to the mismanagement of water resources in Chico where the artist lives, which is considered one of the agricultural heartlands of California. Inspired by a series of recent drawings which re-imagine water-towers as a kind of inverted, or landlocked island built on dysfunctional structures, the exhibition features a life-size drawing of a collapsed water-tower drawn directly on the walls of the gallery, made using passages of text from several prominent documents on global climate change and various appropriations bills, which include the Paris Climate Agreement and the Agriculture Appropriations Bill from the House of Representatives 2016.
“As a New Zealander, a close relationship with water has been a pivotal part of our culture and is responsible for our security and isolation, as well as our identity” says the artist. “A strong relationship with the ocean is found throughout the nation: in the weather, smells, foods, imagery, myths, history. I often play with water/island symbolism to define the tenuous connection I maintain with my historic culture, as I plot my way through a newer one. Living away from the ocean in the massive landscape of the United States has had a profound affect on my self-awareness. In the imagery I use I refer not only to social isolation but also one that is geographical, like unfamiliar dialects, landmarks or customs”.
“Since moving to Chico, one of the agricultural heartlands of California, I have been interested in the management of our valuable water resources. In part, this has led me to a body of work called Dysfunctional Systems, a series of ink drawings that bring me back to my close relationship with the ocean, as I imagine the water tower as a kind of inverted, or landlocked island. But I also see them as a series of misguided structures built on concepts that are basically corrupted, ill-informed or woefully mismanaged. Focusing on the Right To Water as a theme, and pandering to my personal connection to the ocean, they reflect our alarming situation regarding the balance between a need for water and its clean, uninterrupted supply. The Flint, Michigan water crisis is only a recent example of our rising problems with water management as the climate changes”.
This exhibition is generously sponsored in part by Tom Phillips.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in Invercargill, New Zealand, J. Pouwels received an MFA from Miami University. Oxford, OH and BFA from Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA. He currently lives and works in Chico, California where he maintains an active studio. Pouwels’ resume is extensive and international. Since 2002 he has shown in the United States many dozens of times including solo and group exhibitions in California, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, New York, Montana, and Washington, D.C. He has shown multiple times in New Zealand, Japan, and Italy. He has had residencies in Italy, the Netherlands, and New Zealand, and his work from 1996 through the present is part of more than twenty collections in California, Ohio, Amsterdam, and New Zealand. He has been commissioned for artwork many times and been the recipient of awards and scholarships here and abroad.