In One Form or Another; Verse One
Nathaniel Donnett

Opening Reception: 6 – 9 PM Friday, December 1, 2017
Exhibition Dates: December 1, 2017 – January 20, 2018
Main Gallery

The Homeplace Aesthetic, a lecture by Dr. Andrea Roberts

A Lecture by Dr. Andrea Roberts

Art League Houston is pleased to host 'The Homeplace Aesthetic: Finding Black Pasts and Seeking Black Futures in Bottom Land' a lecture by Dr. Andrea Roberts organized by Nathaniel Donnett in conjunction with the artist's exhibition 'In One Form or Another; Verse One' currently on view at Art League Houston. 

Within the American landscape, Black vernacular placemaking manifests as spatialized self-determination, intentional design, self-making, and protest. Presently, popular film and TV (i.e., Queen Sugar) express African Americans’ persistent desire to simultaneously return to self-determined, rural settlements while retaining a foothold in urban meccas pregnant with both danger and opportunity. Dr. Andrea Roberts’ research documents and assesses the relevance of rural exodus and return to Black Texas settlements called freedom colonies. Between Juneteenth and the beginning of the Great Depression, Black Texans founded more than 540 freedom colonies. Dr. Roberts partners with grassroots preservationists, descendants of freedom colony founders, who simultaneously call Houston and rural East Texas settlements their homes. Her ethnographic research documents baby boomers’ complex, gendered and raced preservation practices. Of specific concern to Dr. Roberts are descendant communities’ unique approaches to homestead preservation which she calls The Homeplace Aesthetic—the practice of preserving place, reproducing identity, and fostering belonging through commemoration, interior design, and land-based heritage. She concludes the presentation by discussing the implications of the Homeplace Aesthetic for freedom colonies in “bottom land” after Hurricane Harve



Everyday it’s been the same old mess on my block.
You either struggle or you had to protest on my block
Housing discriminatory practice
Homeless people need a loan just to afford a mattress, to sleep on.
On my block they raise ya tax rate up.
The medium income wealth of whites -100k up.
For Blacks, it’s only 1700- straight up.
For Latinos, it’s 2000, nothing I made up.
That’s not an anecdote, that’s racial wealth gap data.
Gentrifying 5th Ward, ‘cause of low social strata.
From the Harlem Renaissance to the Black Arts Movement represented
In black visual arts and black music, performance to literary stations,
Jacob Lawrence Great Migration to mass incarcerations.
On my block, you see aesthetics in vernacular
Architecture, Houston, Texas from West Africa.
On my block, the police will come test you.
4th Ward Camp Logan, Riots at TSU.
So with their protest signs, they formed a line,
3rd Ward marches on Almeda by design.
On my block, Black women strike with labor unions
For higher wages but not treated human.
On my block, systems sustain poverty
Form became protest then became policies.


My block - when everything is everything for sheezy
My block - protest has form, homie believe me
My block – made a lot from a little look easy, fa sheezy
My block - we’ll keep speaking out and speaking freely

Nathaniel Donnett
Verse One - Inspired by Houston based rapper Brad “Scarface” Jordan and the song “My Block”


Nathaniel Donnett lives and works in Houston, Texas and studied at Texas Southern University. Donnett is the founder of the website blog "Not That But This". which was funded by a 2015 Idea Fund /Andy Warhol Foundation Grant, 2017 Houston Arts Alliance Individual Artist Grant, 2015 Houston Downtown Vehicular Wayfinding Signs Project public art commission. Donnett has also received the 2014 Harpo Foundation Grant, 2011 Houston Arts Alliance Individual Artist Grant, 2011 Idea Fund/Andy Warhol Foundation Grant, 2010 Artadia Award. He’s exhibited at The American Museum, Washington, DC, The Kemper Contemporary Arts Museum, Kansas City, MO, The Theresa Hotel, Harlem, NY, Harvey B Gantt Art Center for African American Arts and Culture, Charlotte, NC, The Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury CT, The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX, Project Row Houses, Houston, TX, Texas Southern University Museum, Houston, TX, The New Museum, NY, NY, The National Museum in Lima, Peru and The Modern Museum of Peru.

Nathaniel Donnett is a recipient of an Individual Artist Grant Award. This grant is funded by the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance. 

This exhibition is generously sponsored in part by Linda Darke and Greg Shannon. 

The Beauty of the Black Woman
Aesha Lee

Opening Reception: 6 – 9 PM Friday, December 1, 2017
Exhibition Dates: December 1, 2017 – January 20, 2018
Front Gallery

Art League Houston is excited to present The Beauty of the Black Woman, an exhibition by Houston based artist Aesha Lee addressing the diversity found in the African American woman. The series features more than twenty paintings, all 2 x 2 ft. oil on wood. The idea behind the series is to address some of the many concerns that plague the black woman, and to challenge those notions with playful titles and beautiful images.

“All of my portraits have titles which reflect some of the things that black women are told on a daily basis from not just [people of] other races but within our own race, which come off as offensive even if they are not meant to be" says the artist. "Black women are ridiculed for our hair, the shape of our noses, the size of our lips, the way that we speak, and the different tones of our skin. We can be too dark or too light, our hair is too nappy or too straight, it is a lot to try to please society. I want young women of all races to look at the portraits and see beautiful women with all of their flaws, and know that they too are beautiful.”

Inspired by the cohesive design layout of Instagram, Lee creates uniform images in both dimension and content. Lee’s portraits address the viewer directly, with most subjects facing completely forward. Each piece, though able to stand alone individually, when displayed together highlight the vast array of beauty surrounding a single identity. 


Aesha Lee is a local, Houston based artist who obtained her Master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas and her undergraduate degree from the University of Houston. She is currently working as a Professor of Arts at Lone Star College and has shown her work at various galleries in Houston which include, but are not limited to Project Row House, Lawndale, The Community Artists Collective, P.V.U., and HCC campus.

This exhibition is generously sponsored in part by Linda Darke and Greg Shannon. 

Houston Sinfonia
music for found sound
Ross Irwin & Harry Leverette

Opening Reception: 6 – 9 PM Friday, December 1, 2017
Exhibition Dates: December 1, 2017 – January 20, 2018
Hallway Space

Art League Houston is excited to present Houston Sinfonia: music for found sound by Houston based artists, Ross Irwin & Harry Leverette. Houston Sinfonia is an installation of experimental music featuring six motion-activated music boxes, each of which plays a different part from the work along with a video accompaniment. The random but over-lapping playback of these parts imitates background noise as we experience it, coming to us from many directions at once.

Houston Sinfonia is music made with ambient sounds from Houston, Texas. The everyday clamor of Houston’s demolition and construction, its year-round air conditioning hum, its passing trains, its own species of toad, some local TV personalities, and a band of rodeo trail riders provide starting points.

Houston Sinfonia is an exploration of sounds within sounds. The process begins by extracting a few audio grains from the original recording or by “stretching” the original recording to a much longer length. These raw audio samples are then digitally processed to create musical voices.

Houston Sinfonia is available as a free album for digital download:



Ross Irwin (MFA/Painting, Houston Baptist University) and Harry Leverette (MA/Literature, University of Houston) have been making experimental music together for the last twenty years. Recent work includes music for wolves, a sound design for Prey, an exhibition by Rachel Gardner at the Galveston Arts Center and Texas Art House, as well as music for Moby-Dick, three and a half hours of dark ambient opera for digital download.