New Initiative 'Artists on Site' Provides Space and Financial Support to Houston-Based BIPOC Artists
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HOUSTON, December 17, 2020 — Asia Society Texas Center (ASTC) is launching Artists on Site, a new initiative supporting Houston-based BIPOC artists with funding and working studio spaces while shining a light on the artistic process. Designed in response to the mounting needs of artists due to the pandemic, the project provides direct support to four featured artists — Ahra Cho, Laura Drey, Brandon Tho Harris, and Royal Sumikat — who will transform the Louisa Stude Sarofim Gallery into public-facing studio spaces, allowing visitors a unique opportunity to see the artists' ideas, research, and works take shape as the project unfolds.
Artists on Site opens Thursday, December 17, and runs through Sunday, January 24, 2021. In addition to onsite opportunities to witness the artistic process, the project includes virtual webcast conversations with the artists. All the activities and programs in the initiative are FREE and open to the public.
As pandemic-related closings began in March, Nancy C. Allen Curator and Director of Exhibitions Bridget Bray engaged in specific conversations with artists, both in Houston and throughout the country, to develop ways that ASTC could support artists and their practices. Because the most critical needs expressed were for time, space, financial resources, and outreach, the Artists on Site initiative provides each artist a $1,500 artist stipend, $500 for materials, dedicated space for six weeks, and professional documentation of their work, as well as a platform for public programming and connectivity with patrons, curators, and other arts professionals.
Bray consulted with nominators Matt Manalo, Mari Omori, and Ashley DeHoyos to develop a short list of 27 Houston-based artists considered to participate in the project. The cohort spans different phases of career and overlapping interest in subject matter and medium such as painting, photography, video, sculpture, performance, and installation.
“I’m so grateful to have time, space, and the ability to explore ideas that have been dormant due to limited resources,” says Laura Drey. “I’m looking forward to the deep dive of artmaking and thinking and engaging with Houston's diverse community and creative artists. I am most excited about the idea of public-facing studio spaces and sharing my methodology with others. The efforts, support, and meaningful relations provided to me through Asia Society Texas Center will undoubtedly impact my art practice in ways that continue to evolve long after my visit.”
- Exhibition dates: Thursday, December 17, 2020 – Sunday, January 24, 2021
- Admission: Free
- Hours: Thursday–Friday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Saturday–Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- January 13, 2021, 7 p.m.: Artist talk featuring Laura Drey and Brandon Tho Harris in conversation with Ashley DeHoyos and Bridget Bray
- January 20, 2021, 7 p.m.: Artist talk featuring Royal Sumikat and Ahra Cho in conversation with Matt Manalo and Bridget Bray
About the Artists
Born in 1990, and after study in Houston, the Netherlands, and New York, Ahra Cho received her BFA at the School of Visual Arts, New York, and has established her studio practice in Houston. She has exhibited her work in both New York and Houston.
Laura Drey is a visual artist, writer, and educator, who lives in Houston, Texas, where she was born and raised. She graduated with her MFA, in Studio, from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2018, and she holds an (Honors) BA, in Studio Arts, from the University of St. Thomas, Houston in 2015. She has exhibited and performed her art nationally and internationally. Awards include a grant from The Warhol Foundation’s Idea Fund through Diverseworks for her project, Unsettled Space — by way of crops. In 2019, she was an artist in residence at Arquetopia Foundation and International Residency in Oaxaca, Mexico. She was also a 2020 Residency Scholarship Award Recipient for Arquetopia Foundation and International Residency in Cusco, Peru. Drey is a founding member of the collective MotherArt: Revisited.
Brandon Tho Harris is an interdisciplinary artist based in Houston, Texas. His creative practice explores his identity as a child of war refugees. By examining the Vietnamese diaspora in relation to his own family history, he is able to understand and process intergenerational trauma. Harris’ work incorporates self-portraiture, his family archives, and historical images portraying the Vietnam War. Through the use of photography, video, performance, and installation, he allows viewers a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding migration. He has received his Bachelor of Fine Arts with the concentration of photography and digital media from the University of Houston. His work has been featured in exhibitions at Houston Center for Photography and the Blaffer Art Museum. Harris' projects have also been funded by grants from The Idea Fund and Houston Art Alliance.
Born in the Philippines and currently residing in Houston, Texas, multi-city muralist and painter, Royal Sumikat is a dynamic human and a futuristic artist. She works with spray paint, gouache, acrylic paints, markers, and most recently – the app Procreate. The images in her works come off as if they’re contradicting each other but are intentionally done to highlight the contrast in colors, ideas, and textures. Sumikat's work is informed by her experiences as an immigrant, community organizer, and priestess – taking inspiration from the spaces afforded by these different identities. Storytelling and mythology are prevalent in her work as she aims to strengthen the connection she has with her ancestors.
About Asia Society Texas Center
With 13 locations throughout the world, Asia Society is the leading educational organization promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among the peoples, leaders, and institutions of Asia and West. Asia Society Texas Center executes the global mission with a local focus, enriching and engaging the vast diversity of Houston through innovative, relevant programs in arts and culture, business and policy, education, and community outreach.
This project is organized by Asia Society Texas Center. Exhibitions and their related programs at Asia Society Texas Center are presented by Nancy C. Allen and Leslie and Brad Bucher. Major support comes from Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen and Mary Lawrence Porter, as well as The Brown Foundation, Inc., The Hearst Foundation, Houston Endowment, and the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance. Generous funding also provided by The Anchorage Foundation of Texas, The Clayton Fund, Texas Commission on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Wortham Foundation, Inc., Olive Jenney, and Ann Wales. United Airlines is our official airline partner. Funding is also provided through contributions from the Exhibitions Patron Circle, a dedicated group of individuals and organizations committed to bringing exceptional visual art to Asia Society Texas Center.