Enormous Crowd Electrifies Night Market Atmosphere As Thought-Provoking Exhibitions Open
HOUSTON, November 7, 2013 — A diverse crowd of more than 1,600 surveyed stunning examples of Southeast Asian weaving, snapped up Asian crafts, and wolfed down Filipino-, Indian- and Vietnamese-themed street food as Asia Society Texas Center hosted its first Night Market.
Much-welcome crisp fall weather contributed to the festive atmosphere. Food trucks and food vendors dotted the lawn and street in front of the Center. Items for purchase ranged from artisanal honey and balsamic vinegar to Texas-raised kobe beef and made-to-order Chinese sausage and egg crepes. Picnic tables provided seating.
The event drew a multiethnic, multi-generational crowd, many from the surrounding neighborhood.
“We’ve been wanting to have a market for the longest time, so it’s dream come true for the neighborhood,” said Russell Hruska, president of the Museum Park Super Neighborhood. “This kind of environment reinforces the walkability of the neighborhood, allowing people to step out their front doors and end up in an Asian market. You can’t have anything better.”
Highlighting the evening was the opening of two new exhibitions, Weavers' Stories From Island Southeast Asia, and Between History and New Horizons: Photographs of Women, Work, and Community in Laos.
The latter, in the downstairs Fayez Sarofim Grand Hall, explores the nature of women’s labor in contemporary Laos, including the transformation of traditional skills into modern ways of work. The Texas Center and the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, Luang Prabang, co-organized the show.
Weavers' Stories, which fills the upstairs Louisa Stude Sarofim Gallery, displays the work of 10 women textile artists from Indonesia, East Timor, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Organized by the Fowler Museum at UCLA, the exhibition includes videotaped oral histories of the artists, situating the work not only in artistic tradition but also in the lives of specific women.
Sabrina Lynn Motley, senior director of programs and exhibitions for the Texas Center, says she hopes people walk away “with a sense of the depth of these women’s inventiveness as well as their varied perspectives on life and the meaning of their creative labor.”
Isman Pasha, a consul at the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia, welcomed the exhibition as a way of introducing Southeast Asian culture to Houstonians. It shows that “people living in a simple way can produce very high artistic work,” he said.
One visitor, struck by the rich colors of the work, said the exhibition “totally blew me away…. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
Textiles—these for sale—were a big draw in the area featuring Asian crafts. The checkout line was long at The Community Cloth, a microenterprise initiative that fosters marketing opportunities for refugee women artisans in Houston. The women keep 100 percent of the profits from their handmade scarves, bags and other household items.
“The artisans are super-excited,” said Nicci Lew, program coordinator for the nonprofit organization. “They feel appreciated and feel that they are getting to share their skills with our community.”
"It was a beautiful evening to launch the Night Market and celebrate the opening of two thought-provoking exhibitions. Every space at the Texas Center overflowed with excitement, curiosity, discovery and a deep sense of global community that embodies Houston and Texas," said acting executive director John Bradshaw, Jr.
Reported by Fritz Lanham
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