Project Row Houses and UH’s Center for Art & Social Engagement Announce 2019 Fellows


Nataly Torres,

Elmore Public Relations, 713.524.0661


Project Row Houses and UH’s Center for Art & Social Engagement Announce 2019 Fellows


HOUSTON – Feb. 6, 2019 – Project Row Houses (PRH) and the Center for Art and Social Engagement (CASE) at the University of Houston’s Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts (KGMCA) today announced the artists participating in the 2019 KGMCA-PRH Fellowship: Texas-based Libby Bland and California-based Sarah Rafael García.

The KGMCA-PRH Fellowship was created to invite artists and cultural practitioners to the Third Ward to work alongside urban planners, educators and policy makers. The fellows will engage in creative collaborations that involve the Third Ward community and address issues important to them.

Bland and García will receive mentorship from project administrators Sixto Wagan, director of CASE, and Ryan N. Dennis, PRH's Curator and Programs Director. Local artists, faculty members, community members and selected leaders will offer their support during this process.

“Sixto and I are pleased to welcome Libby and Sarah as our 2019 fellows,” said Dennis. “The caliber of applicants we receive yearly is an indication of the amazing work artists are pursuing nationwide, and the necessity for a fellowship that supports them in their efforts to build community through art.”

Upon completion of the fellowship's pilot year, applications were accepted from nearly 60 local, national, and international artists and collectives. The applications were reviewed by a panel consisting of Dennis and Wagan; Bert Bertonaschi, artist and PRH Board Member; Mary Manning, Archivist, and Curator of Performing and Visuals Arts Collections, University of Houston Libraries; and Assata Richards, Executive Director, Sankofa Research Institute.

"The partnership between PRH and CASE continues to advance as we learn from the participating artists," stated Wagan. "Working alongside our fellows is a rewarding experience and it is exciting to see the investment artists are making in community-centered creative practices. We are delighted to begin our journey with Libby and Sarah, and look forward to the insights their work will certainly bring.”

The fellows will be introduced at the opening artist talks this spring, where they will share information on their work focus and the questions that will guide their research throughout the year. At the conclusion of their fellowships, the two will also present lectures/performances that encapsulate their year of research.


Libby Bland

Libby Bland is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania where she earned master’s degrees in architecture and city and regional planning. Her undergraduate degree is from Sarah Lawrence College where she studied narratives of place, children’s literature, and costuming. She was born and raised in Southeastern Virginia in the shadow of The Great Dismal Swamp. Her background is in oral history, arts-based community design, and the history of self-planned Black communities throughout the rural South. Previously she worked with The Community Futures Lab in Philadelphia, an oral history and arts project around gentrification in a neighborhood after public housing towers had been demolished. She also worked for the Village of Arts and Humanities, focusing on economic development and housing stability for long-time residents in North Philadelphia. She currently works full time at Texas Housers as a neighborhood and housing equity planner and analyst.

The through line of Libby’s work is trying to understand the narratives that Black people tell (and omit) about our experiences, and figuring out clear and compelling ways to connect us across the stories and lessons that have been lost to time and trauma.

Sarah Rafael Garcia

Sarah Rafael García is a writer, traveler, and arts educator. She was born in Brownsville, Texas and raised in Santa Ana, California—she considers herself “a first-generation everything,” including being an artist. Since publishing Las Niñas (Floricanto Press 2008), she founded Barrio Writers, LibroMobile and Crear Studio. In 2015, she completed a M.F.A. in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Fiction and cognate in Media Studies. She is an editor for the Barrio Writers, pariahs: writing from outside the margins and Latinx Archive anthologies. In 2016, Sarah Rafael was awarded to develop the multi-media project titled SanTana’s Fairy Tales (Raspa Magazine 2017), supported in part by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, through an Artist-in-Residence initiative at CSUF Grand Central Art Center. In 2018, she held an artist residency at The Guesthouse, Cork, Ireland and was honored as an Emerging Artist at the 19th Annual Orange County Arts Awards. In March 2019, she will exhibit her first installation as a conceptual artist: “A Book’s Journey,” a collaborative recycled book project.

As a writer and conceptual artist, Sarah Rafael offers historical counter-narratives for her gender and culture, while integrating contemporary social justice themes and creative narrative structures of people of color without the constraints imposed by society or traditional storytelling. For the KGMCA-PRH Fellowship, she is interested in expanding her ethnographic work by researching and incorporating Houston's Third Ward history along with its social justice and gentrification issues and further develop a multi-media, literary-arts platform.

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Project Row Houses Unveils Round 49: penumbras: sacred geometries


Nataly Torres,  

Elmore Public Relations, 713.524.0661

Project Row Houses Unveils Round 49: penumbras: sacred geometries

Artist Round explores the ideology of sacred geometries to form structures and landscapes that allude to the body, intent and consciousness

HOUSTON – Mar. 7, 2019 – Project Row Houses (PRH) will unveil its latest Artist Round, Round 49: penumbras: sacred geometries, on Saturday, March 16 at the Art Houses located at 2505 – 2517 Holman St. Round 49 is co-curated by PRH Curator and Programs Director Ryan N. Dennis and cultural practitioner william cordova. The Round explores the ideology of sacred geometries to form structures and landscapes that allude to the body, intent and consciousness.

Round 49 was curated in connection with the Latino Art Now! Conference, and the installations will bring attention to Houston’s Afro-Latino diaspora. The conference, organized by the Inter-University Program for Latino Research (IUPLR) and the Smithsonian Latino Center, will take place at the University of Houston from April 4-6 and explores themes similar to those of Round 49. Round 49 Art Houses will serve as one of the venues for Latino Art Now!’s Spring of Latino Art events.

“Round 49: penumbras: sacred geometries was envisioned to uplift dialogue around Houston’s Afro-Latino diaspora,” said Dennis. “As the only exhibit concentrated on Afro-Latin culture and art, william and I knew it was a perspective that could not be left out of the conversation. Our hope is that Round 49 will elevate the multitudes of rich texture and broad perspective within Afro-Latino heritage.”

Round 49 exhibiting artists include:

  • Yanira Collado's (Dominican Republic) work is rooted in the synthesis of African fractals, slave quilts and geometric concepts. Her work produces and highlights the complexity of abstraction as a non-western narrative rooted in African tradition.

  • Leticia Contreras (Afromexican) is an artist who reframes the unframed through photography, performance and site-specific installation capturing the felt essence of our presence in temporal structures and abandoned vessels.

  • Aramis O'Reilly (Cuba) creates alternative landscapes that relate to color based systems of communication and the harmony of the spheres; an ancient philosophical concept that regards proportions in the movements of celestial bodies.

  • Charo Oquet (Dominican Republic) is a performance artist whose installation based work draws from the intersection of sacred geometries and constellational patterns originating in Veve symbols and Taíno cosmograms.

  • Onajide Shabaka (US) is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice includes story-telling through short narrative films and expansive installations whose materials are drawn from organic matter.

  • Juana Valdes (Cuba) is a research-based artist whose travels bridge geographic moments that speak on the economy of labor, aesthetics and resistance in the Caribbean.

 In conjunction with Round 49, MacArthur genius grant recipient Okwui Okpokwasili and Peter Born will utilize one of the Art Houses for their installation titled Sitting on a Man’s Head. Okpokwasili and Born have created a dynamic “public song,” engaging PRH’s site, local artists and the Houston community. Their installation will be activated during the CounterCurrent Festival as an immersive live experience. Performances will take place on Friday, April 12 and on Saturday, April 13. 

To support neighborhood and economic development, PRH will also host a family-friendly market from 4 to 7 p.m. that showcases a variety of goods and services from Third Ward vendors. From 2:30 to 4 p.m., guests have the opportunity to hear from the artists about their individual practices and the inspiration behind their installation during Artists’ Talks.

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Round 49 will be on view from Saturday, March 16 through Sunday, June 9, 2019. Art Houses are open Wednesday – Sunday, 12 – 5 p.m.

Project Row Houses Presents Round 48: Beyond Social Practice


Nataly Torres,  

Elmore Public Relations, 713.524.0661


Project Row Houses Presents Round 48: Beyond Social Practice

Latest round investigates the storied connection between artists and activism within contemporary art

HOUSTON – Oct. 01, 2018 – Project Row Houses (PRH) will unveil Round 48: Beyond Social Practice on Saturday, October 13 at the Art Houses located at 2505 – 2517 Holman St. The latest Round brings together a group of artists deeply engaged in collaborative practices that speak to social issues related to identity, politics, and activism. In conjunction with the opening, PRH will host a family-friendly block party that spans its Third Ward site.

Beyond Social Practice comes at a pivotal moment for our organization as we mark 25 years of engagement in the Historic Third Ward community,” said Eureka Gilkey, Executive Director of PRH. “The foundation of our organization is built on encouraging artists to extend their practice outside the studio into the social context. Round 48 will build upon our efforts to engage neighbors, artists, and enterprises in collective creative action and evidence new ways of bringing people together.”

Participating artists and collectives include Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, Armina Mussa, Tia-Simone Gardner, Lisa Harris, Dawn Weleski, jackie sumell and The Design Studio for Social Intervention. The seven renowned artists and collectives from across the U.S. are socially-engaged artists whose work shapes and frames socio-political issues while demonstrating their ties to various social justice movements and strategies.

  • Tatyana Fazlalizadeh (Brooklyn, NY): Fazlalizadeh’s installation “The Personal as Political” creates a space for people to talk candidly about their experiences being black, women, and/or queer. Their personal stories will then be used to create political art that disrupts the common narrative and forces a new perspective on identity and activism.

  • Armina Mussa (Los Angeles, CA): Mussa’s installation “Fragility—Death” uses various mediums such as sculpture, video, durational performance, and performance documentation to allude to the practices of repressive and violent environments.

  • Tia-Simone Gardner (Houston, TX): Gardner’s “The Black Power Station” is a digital audiobook archive and mobile sound installation that highlights authors of African descent whose works were published before 1923, but have fallen out of print.

  • Lisa Harris (Houston, TX): Harris’ “House of Practice” is a holistic recreation center that creates a sacred space and a healing environment through the use of cool colors, calming and orderly interiors, mirrors, furniture, literature and a practitioner. The installation offers organic practices, materials, and information as alternatives to overindulgence in pharmaceutical consumption and digital recreation.

  • Dawn Weleski (Pittsburgh, PA): Weleski’s “Noon at Night” is a pay-what-you-can bakery serving international baked goods, while connecting customers in real-time to other cafés and patrons around the world. “Noon at Night” opens when the sun sets and doesn’t close until sunset the next day, allowing customers in Houston to converse via video conferencing with customers in cafés half a world away where their hour is noon. 

  • jackie sumell (New Orleans, LA): sumell’s “gRow House” will fill the space with flowers chosen by incarcerated mothers from prisons across the U.S. The installation, which recognizes that 80% of incarcerated women and girls are mothers, invites visitors to plant the seedlings chosen by the women, document their transformation, and share the images with the moms through a prisoner-support app called Flikshop.

  • The Design Studio for Social Intervention (Boston, MA): The Design Studio for Social Intervention will create a “Social Emergency Response Center” with the intention of taking social emergencies that we presently face to help individuals pivot out of despair, rage, and hopelessness into collective, creative, and radical action. The House will be programmed as a space for activists, artists, and Third Ward residents to gather and activate in ways that feel useful and inspiring.

“Round 48: Beyond Social Practice builds on the thought-provoking and engaging dialogue from our recent Social Practice.Social Justice symposium, which focused on the creative actions around preservation and social practices in communities,” said Ryan N. Dennis, Curator and Programs Director of PRH. “The term ‘social practice’ is often broad and vaguely defined and we found it imperative to further fuel the conversation on how it’s defined, who defines it, and what it means for artists, collectives, and institutions. Round 48 explores the organic efforts that move beyond the name and elevate the spirit of socially-engaged art through their actions.”

For the opening on October 13, PRH will offer Artists’ Talks from noon to 2 p.m. as well as a block party, which continues the tradition of the community gathering to commemorate a new Round of installations. The Artists Talks will offer attendees the opportunity to hear from the artists about their individual practices and the inspiration behind their installation. The block party runs from noon to 7 p.m., and occupies the PRH site.

At the block party, guests can celebrate the Round 48 opening through a series of live performances from local artists Eimaral Sol, The Afroknotts, Marcus Ardoin and Da Zydeco Legendz, Marium Echo, Tim Woods, and Undergravity; family-friendly games and activities, including ZooMobile from the Houston Zoo; free Yoga with Letty classes; food and shopping for goods from local entrepreneurs. PRH’s block parties have a long and rich history for celebrating art and African-American history and culture.

There will be a health fair on-site with vendors speaking about and offering services on areas such as sickle cell, adult and childhood diabetes, HIV, spinal and mental health, and the need for minorities to donate blood. Legacy Community Health will be providing screenings for diabetes, blood pressure, BMI, pregnancy, HIV and syphilis, as well as giving educational presentations.

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Round 48: Beyond Social Practice on display: Saturday, October 13, 2018 - Sunday, February 17, 2019
Open Wednesday – Sunday, 12 – 5 p.m.

Project Row Houses Announces Social Practice.Social Justice Symposium

Abby Linney,
Elmore Public Relations, 713.524.0661

Project Row Houses Announces Social Practice.Social Justice Symposium

Renowned artists, activists and thought leaders gather in Houston’s Third Ward for one-day symposium

HOUSTON – Aug. 22, 2018 – Project Row Houses (PRH) announces its Social Practice.Social Justice symposium, which will be held on Saturday, September 8 in the Historic Eldorado Ballroom. The day-long symposium, which features panel discussions and a keynote address, brings renowned, socially-engaged artists, activists and thought leaders from across the U.S. to Houston’s Third Ward to share their insights on the role of art and creativity in the social and political landscape. 

“25 years ago, our founders strived to be a catalyst for social transformation in the Third Ward community through the celebration of art and African American history and culture,” said Eureka Gilkey, executive director of PRH. “While our work has become a model for art and social engagement in communities throughout the world, we remain committed to the cultural enrichment and historic preservation of the Third Ward. This symposium brings artists, activists and thought leaders to our community in order to expand the dialogue around our work and look at new opportunities for direct action through collective creativity.” 

The symposium will begin with a morning panel discussion entitled “Neighborhood Development and the Preservation of a Community,” moderated by Gilkey, which brings together individuals who are paving a way forward for conscious neighborhood development and who work actively to preserve historic buildings in disinvested neighborhoods. Panelists include Irfana Jetha Noorani, deputy director of the 11th Street Bridge Project in Washington D.C.; Pat Jordan, president of the Gem Cultural and Education Center in Kansas City; and Danielle Burns Wilson, curator and manager of The African American Library at the Gregory School in Houston.

“Through the Symposium, we aim to create a thought-provoking and engaging dialogue around the intersection of art, community engagement and neighborhood development,” said Ryan N. Dennis, curator and programs director of PRH. “We believe our keynote speaker and panelists will highlight creative actions around preservation and social practice in communities, and in turn, we can share how PRH spurs direct action through art and engagement in the Third Ward.” 

Lisa Dent, thought leader and advocate for cultural workers and living artists, will deliver the keynote address, “The Romance of Community,” on Saturday afternoon. She will present current research on philanthropic and cultural organizations, placing the support of artistic work in a socio-economic context.

The symposium will conclude with a conversation centered on the broad, often vague definition of “social practice,” entitled “Beyond Social Practice.” Moderated by Gia Hamilton, cultural producer, panelists multi-disciplinary artist Shani Peters of New York; visual contemporary artist Nathaniel Donnett of Houston; and creative laborer, educator, writer and radical community arts organizer Jen Delos Reyes of Chicago will present their individual practices and their observed impact of art and creativity on the community.

The event is open to all, with ticket prices at $10 for students, $25 for PRH members and $35 for all other guests. Attendees can register in advance at the PRH website. To learn more about the PRH symposium, please visit:  

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