A brief look at four young local artists who look beyond artistic limits and have left their mark on the Houston art scene over the past year
By: Meghan Hendley
As a writer, artist, and lover of the arts, I often find inspiration within our local arts community. Houston is an underappreciated haven for talented creators and there are four artists in particular who have truly stood out to me in 2012. They have left an indelible impression on my visual journey across Houston and beyond. These artists are not your run-of-the-mill canvas painters. They study, they educate, they produce, they play with techniques, they don’t settle, and they advocate for the importance of the arts in our community. They push back on their medium and transform the materials they use to go beyond their perceived conventions. Most of all, they are souls of gold who engage others with a sense of duty and camaraderie using their gift as a binding agent that glues us all together. As an added note, these artists make things happen with their own talent – unrepresented and ever moving in their contemporary language.
Theresa Escobedo is the newly-appointed Lead Workshop Instructor at the Houston Center for Photography. Her desire to capture both the ancient and modern combined with her love of places, particularly the Lone Star State, makes for work that summons history. She shoots using both analog and digital and has recently incorporated instant photography into her repertoire. She uses a Polaroid SX-70 with Polaroid and Impossible Project films, as well as snapping digital pics thanks to her trusty iPhone. The various vignettes of cities, crumbling structures, people, and absent spaces draw us into their living loneliness. The various processes she uses to develop help cast a particular visual mood. Sepia tones and blue hues infuse objects in the picture with a sense of nostalgia and memory. In her new role at HCP, Theresa has created new courses that accommodate everyone from Instagram users to advanced photographers. Sign up for a class and be on the lookout for a chance to see her photos over the coming months.
Michael K. Taylor
Michael Kahlil Taylor is a performer and multimedia artist. His work has included object and video installations at Project Row Houses and his unique wall relief sculptures at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. His early work in photography made for a unique view of lines and structures, leading into sculptural pieces including the use of wood with carvings that swirl and move within the piece. An arts educator and writer, Michael focuses on issues facing global communities, adding food for thought beyond the status quo. One reason this artist’s work is worth noting this year is due to his summer residency at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture located in Maine. A nine-week intensive program, Skowhegan has served as the launch pad for some of the most prolific artists of our generation, allowing them to fully dedicate themselves to new ideas and site-specific works. Michael was the only artist selected from Texas for this prized program. We look forward to seeing what ideas incubated during his residency.
Earlier this year, Free Press Houston featured Felipe Lopez and since then he has gone on to create some of the largest original work to date. Extracting his concept from neuroscience and psychology, Felipe artistically shows what goes on in our brains including everything from synapses to memory recognition. Taking his pieces beyond paper and canvas, Felipe uses a combination of painting and printing onto sturdy black roofing paper that is cut into strips and then woven together. He has had featured openings this fall at Winter Street Studios and War’Hous Visual Studios. Noted as the largest mono-printed sculptures being created, these pieces occupy wall space with each turn and twist, making a bold statement that hints back to the ornamentation of the baroque. The sculptures carry the idea that we choose the placement where different synapses, neurons, and receptors overlap and collide to create different thoughts through a subconscious language. These pieces are being pushed beyond normal conventions and are growing in size as his concept deepens. Placement in our local urban landscape and exhibitions on grander scales are planned for next year.
Though born in Houston, Regina Agu has traveled far and wide her entire life including trips throughout Europe and Africa. Harkening back to the ritualistic and forgotten histories of cultures, Regina recounts and morphs tales along with myths throughout her various mediums. A recent show “Visible Unseen” (part of the ARC Exhibition Series by Fresh Arts) featured drawings and collage work that included the incorporation of biology and anatomy texts – morphing these artifacts into new work. These elements collided with Regina’s own handmade meditations on the body, hidden histories, and a collection of memories. These pieces, although rooted in the past, take on a new, futuristic mood thrusting them into a science fiction realm. A recipient of the 2012 Houston Arts Alliance individual artist grant, Regina used this year as a chance to push herself as an artist and the coming years should bring even more travels through her futuristic work.