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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