The Answer Is Yes: “You Are Enough”: YES Prep Teacher Shares Community Art Experience with Students

Full post by YES Prep

Brian Ellison is originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He moved to Houston to pursue his Masters in Counseling at Prairie View A&M University. He earned his BA in Sociology at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. Ellison works as a photographer, visual artist, and special education teacher at YES Prep East End. We interviewed him about his path to YES Prep, his art installation “You Are Enough” with Project Row Houses, and the intersection of community art and teaching.

How did you become a photographer?
I went to a performing arts high school and took my first photography class then. When I think back to it, I’ve always loved taking photos– I just didn’t know that there was a title for what I was doing. After I moved to Houston, I picked up my camera again and started taking photos. I’d post them online and people would reach out to me to see if I’d do shoots or to express interest in my work. I wasn’t trying to get accolades; it was just something I loved doing. In 2011, I went to Africa and that trip really transformed me. I was able to capture so many beautiful day-to-day moments in the community I visited. When I got back, I had my first show and 25% of the profits went back to that community. The show had an amazing turnout. There was a write-up in the Chronicle about it, and the feedback was great. It was the first time I realized that people really liked what I was doing. About a year and a half ago, I started talking to Michael Healey, East End’s art teacher, and he invited me to submit to Avenue CDC’s Winter Street show. I put in a photo and won best photo for the whole show. That was confirmation that you shouldn’t sit on your gifts. You need to be confident enough to try. After that, I started applying for grants and opportunities.

Houston Chronicle: Art Daybook: Third Ward as Monopoly game

Full article by Molly Glentzer

The current round of installations, "The Act of Doing," examines how the 2-year-old Emancipation Economic Development Council, which the Project co-founded, is dealing with rapid gentrification. One house contains an informative and dense timeline display. Nikita Hodge's Tre Chic pop-up boutique occupies another house, selling goods by black artists and artisans on Saturdays. Several of the other houses feature evocative video installations.

But Newsome hits it out of the park - passing "Go" and then some - by presenting the story of Third Ward's real-estate scramble as a Monopoly game.

Newsome calls himself a smart-aleck with a weird sense of humor. But the pain of this satirical game is real. He grew up in Third Ward, returned as an adult and bought his own fixer-upper home on Southmore about 12 years ago. That place, where he's invested so much sweat equity, now costs him more every year in property taxes, as values skyrocket.

Houston Press: Gentrification is Not A Good Thing for African American Communities

Full article by G. Paris Johnson

It took me a minute to piece this together because I had to listen to the interviews again to capture the raw, unfiltered emotions. If you're looking to experience gentrification in its most raw and pure form, you've got to check out the Project Row houses installation Round 47—it is here until February 11, 2018. Round 47 is located in the heart of Third Ward at 2521 Holman.

This group of talented artists offers a visual articulation ranging from sculpting, painting, cinemaphotography, choreography, and photography. Each installation captures the effects gentrification has on the residents of Third Ward.

"We make it work! We work with what we got. We are resilient. We can. We do. We are.", says photographer and cinematographer, Brian Ellison artist of the "We are Enough [Still]" installation.