Open Door Interviews with James Pickens – Lakea Shepard

Posted April 25, 2023 in Blog

“Open Door Interviews” is an informal interview series developed in collaboration with HCCC and social media intern James Pickens, intended to give insight into our resident artists’ creative process. 

This past April, I joined Lakea Shepard in her studio. During our visit, Lakea shared her journey as a textile artist while she worked away on her latest work. We also discussed life in Houston, and her experience here at HCCC. 

The conversation that follows has been edited for length and clarity.

James Pickens: How long have you been an artist?

Lakea Shepard: I’ve been an artist my entire life. Even before I started kindergarten, I was making art – it’s basically the only thing that I know.

JP: When did you start working with your chosen medium?

LS: I started working with textiles and fabrics because I’ve always been around them since my mom worked for a textile company. But I really started to focus in on it when I moved to Detroit, like [in] about 2009.

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Open Door Interviews with James Pickens – Yeonsoo Kim

Posted April 7, 2023 in Blog

“Open Door Interviews” is an informal interview series developed in collaboration with HCCC and social media intern James Pickens, intended to give insight into our resident artists’ creative process. 

This past March, I joined Yeonsoo Kim in his studio to learn about his creative process. During our visit, Yeonsoo walked me through his artistic journey and gave insight into where his inspirations, message, and style stem from. Additionally, we touched on his experience at HCCC, and discussed what it’s like living in Houston after traveling for various artist residency programs. However, we began our conversation with an introduction to Yeonsoo and his craft.

The conversation that follows has been edited for length and clarity.

James Pickens: How long have you been an artist, and how did you begin working with ceramics?

Yeonsoo Kim: I’ve been working with art since high school, so almost 20 years. I loved drawing and painting first, and one of my teachers had a double major: painting and sculpture. So that’s why I’m experienced with clay.

JP: How would you describe your style or particular type of craft?

YK: I started off with the onggi demonstration, which is making big pots. Continue Reading »

Open Door Interviews with James Pickens – Rebekah Sweda

Posted March 30, 2023 in Blog

“Open Door Interviews” is an informal interview series developed in collaboration with HCCC and social media intern James Pickens, intended to give insight into our resident artists’ creative process. You can watch the full interview by clicking on the embedded video below:

This past February, I joined Rebekah Sweda in her studio to learn about her creative process. During our conversation, I watched her work while we went back and forth between the kiln and her studio. In that time, we covered topics spanning her influences, inspirations, and experiences at HCCC. Our conversion began with a brief introduction to her work, where she guided me through her artistic journey thus far.

The conversation that follows has been edited for length and clarity.

James Pickens: How long have you been an artist, and when did you start working with ceramics?

Rebekah Sweda: I’ve been doing ceramics professionally for about four years. I’ve been building my ceramics skills for about eight years, but haven’t been doing ceramics professionally for too long.

JP: What drew you to ceramics?

RS: I have a background in STEM, so I have a chemistry degree, and I’d always done art all my life. And I really, really loved that ceramics is this combination of art – like creativity and chemistry combined together.

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Q&A with Resident Artist Carl Johnson

Posted November 3, 2021 in Blog

HCCC recently interviewed current resident Carl Johnson, who works in the medium of fiber arts and specializes in weaving with thin-gauge metal. Make sure to visit his studio before his residency ends at the end of this month! (November, 2021).

Carl Johnson sitting at loom

Carl Johnson in his studio at HCCC. Photo by: Katy Anderson.

HCCC: Why were you interested in this residency program?

Carl Johnson: I would say that, in large part, it was the interaction with the public and the ability to have an open-door studio. I could have dialogue with the public, who may have never met an artist before, or who maybe were an artist themselves and were interested in what other people are doing. By having my own studio, I could also work and explore my work with no restrictions. The location also appealed to me. I hadn’t spent much time in Houston, and it’s exciting to learn a new city.

I also like that it’s not a museum where things are just on the wall, but where the public can see who is behind the art. I like giving insights into my work, and sharing what I do with other people.

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Fiber artist Abi Ogle on her artist residency: remarkable makers, incredible resources, and sensational community

Posted February 20, 2020 in Blog

Marketing Specialist Mary Karcher recently interviewed Abi Ogle about her experience as a resident artist at HCCC. Abi’s residency runs through February, 2020.  For more information about HCCC’s artist residency program and to apply for the 2020 – 2021 cycle, click here. Applications are due March 1, 2020.

Mary Karcher: How have you evolved as an artist/maker during your time at HCCC?

 Abi Ogle: My time at HCCC has definitely been a time of listening to stories, being delighted by the proximity of (simply put) REMARKABLE makers, and a chance to explore the really incredible resources that the Craft Center provides. For me, personally, my six months here have been a time of growth, a chance to explore materials and concepts, and to make uninhibited (which has been SUCH a gift).

Abi Ogle, “Petannynai,” 2019. Installation of dried, Texas Ruby Red grapefruit membranes on wood oat stems, 2 x 16 feet. Photo by HCCC.

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Maxwell Mustardo on the Intersection of Geometry, Vessels, and Bodies

Posted December 20, 2019 in Blog

In the fall of 2019, HCCC curatorial intern Felicia Leyva interviewed recent HCCC resident artist Maxwell Mustardo about his experimentation with surface texture and volumetric forms in his ceramic practice.

Max Mustardo with visitors Max Jacobs and Carter Warren in September, 2019. Photo courtesy Krystal Hatchett.

Felicia Leyva: When did you first begin working with clay, and what do you love most about this medium?

Maxwell Mustardo: I began dabbling with clay in high school, after being denied entry into my preferred class in film and video. I didn’t begin considering making ceramics as a kind of viable path until I started visiting Toshiko Takaezu in her home studio, which is nearby my family’s home in northern New Jersey. There’s very little that I dislike about clay. It’s an immensely expansive medium, from Neolithic cooking pots to NASA’s rocketship plating to geological structures to the curious things kindergarteners make. It is polyphonic—singing with multiple disparate voices in a single harmony. There are so many ways to approach and enjoy it. Continue Reading »

Audrey LeGalley on Modern Insecurity, Domesticity & the Anxieties of Girlhood

Posted October 2, 2019 in Blog

 HCCC curatorial intern Grace Winburne interviewed Texas ceramist and recent HCCC resident artist Audrey LeGalley about her creation of household objects in porcelain to address issues related to anxiety, fueled by domesticity. Audrey returns to HCCC to be part of Resident Artist Talks on Saturday, October 19, 2019.

Former HCCC resident artist Audrey LeGalley in her installation, “Girlhood Scary” (2019), featured in “Ghostly Demarcations” at Blue Star Contemporary. Photo courtesy of Barbara Miñarro.

Grace Winburne: Though your pieces deal with heavy subject matter, the porcelain that you use to create your installations is delicate and fragile. Why do you choose to work with porcelain, and how do you see the material relating to your subject matter as you address the theme of domesticity?

Audrey LeGalley: The visual weight of the material isn’t directly indicative of emotional weight in this work. The emotional aspects are explored through implied fragility and anxiety that is emphasized through delicate forms. I use porcelain in my work because most viewers understand an immediate reference to its break-ability, encouraging a sense of anxiety in the viewer. I also think it’s important that the material I use is found in domestic spaces—normally, porcelain has a place in the average American home. It’s used for tile and dinnerware. I’m taking the material out of its intended purpose in the home and using it in dangerous and impractical ways, to address themes of insecurity within the home.

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Ean Escoto on Craft & Science in Jewelry Making

Posted August 9, 2019 in Blog

In the spring of 2019, HCCC intern Kelly Dolan interviewed former resident artist, Ean Escoto. As a jeweler and metalsmith, Escoto presents a new style of craft that takes the concept of jewelry into the contemporary aesthetic. Escoto, by incorporating roboticics into his designs, makes exceptional work that conveys a sense of meaning and whimsy to his audiences.

Ean Escoto working in his studio at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Photo courtesy of Blaize Middleton.

Kelly Dolan: You initially went to school to study bioengineering; however, you graduated with a degree in applied design for jewelry, metalsmithing, and ceramics. How has bioengineering influenced the combination of electronics and jewelry in your work, and what other influences inform your work?

Ean Escoto: I would argue that art and science are born of craft; art and science were predated by craft as disciplines while present within craft as practices. Bioengineering and craft, particularly art jewelry, both satisfy my core interests, providing people with something meaningful. Bioengineering generally seeks to enhance people’s quality of life by supporting their physical needs. Craft tends to focus on the impact of objects of daily use on people’s lives. For me, they both start with the body.

Jewelry objects are literally attached to the body as items of use or metaphorically attached as items of consideration. Most often, they serve as prostheses of identity, evoking meaning for the wearer and the viewer. I find this platform for expression really great for the types of engagement I would like to have with others.

Science and engineering have greatly informed my approach to living with appreciation and curiosity. Science is a formalization of the fact that the natural world will answer any question you ask it. The challenge of science is in the difficulty of understanding what you actually want to ask, learning how to phrase it, and interpreting the answer you receive. The glory of science is that the answers we receive spawn even better questions. It really seems like the universe will never run out of wonder. Engineering provides a powerful set of problem-solving tools. The basic idea is to break a problem into smaller parts that you either understand or don’t understand. You solve the parts you understand, quantify what you don’t understand, and use that information to find or create resources which will allow the problem to be solved.

When I make jewelry, I apply the tools I have to solve the problems I am interested in. The initial motivation behind introducing electronics to my practice was to make objects activate people’s theory of mind. I wanted people to consider what the object is thinking. This ability to consider the thoughts of another is worth celebrating. Leveraging this experience is a powerful tool for getting people to engage in the other types of experiences I am trying to promote. Continue Reading »

Antonius-Tin Bui & Tonya Huynh on “Queer(ing) the Wheel”

Posted March 21, 2019 in Blog

“Queer(ing) the Wheel,” presented on February 21, 2019, at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, was the brainchild of resident artist Antonius-Tin Bui and collaborator Tonya Hyunh. Inspired by the historic Playhouse Theater located next door to HCCC on Main Street, this performance harnessed the concept of the immersive “theater-in-the-round” to engage audiences in an exploration of queer identity and mobility in Houston. On the 68th anniversary of the Theater’s opening night, the event featured Antonius-Tin Bui (performance and craft), Emilý Æyer (sound and performance), S Rodriguez (sound and interactive performance, queer sci-fi literature), Devin Kenny (multidisciplinary sculpture), Junior Fernandez (photography), Post Modern Sleaze (performance), and Duke Diesel (performance). HCCC Curatorial Fellow María-Elisa Heg interviewed Bui and Hyunh to learn more about what inspired this project and its significance to the queer community.

Kumquat performing in “Queer(ing) the Wheel.” Photo by Antonius-Tin Bui

María-Elisa Heg: Tell us a little bit about how this performance came about and how you first encountered the Playhouse Theater.

Antonius-Tin Bui & Tonya Huynh: What does the archive mean in the 21st century? Who has access to archives? Who is in charge of defining the mission and intentions of an archive? Who is forgotten and erased from the archives?

This performance seems to be the physical manifestation of our ongoing conversations around queerness, liminality, and archives. We were also inspired by Guy Debord’s concept of psychogeography, the study of a geographic environment’s impact on the emotions and behaviors of an individual. Psychogeography calls for the dissolution between art and life through playful strategies that take community members off their usual paths, bringing forth new awareness of the landscape.

MH: At the time of its inaugural performance on February 21, 1951, the Playhouse was one of the largest theaters-in-the-round in the nation. However, it only operated for two years before shutting down due to lack of funds. The ambitious scale and tragically short life of the Playhouse Theater make for interesting reading, but what is it particularly about the Playhouse’s history that inspired you to create your unique variation on the concept of theater-in-the-round?

AB & TH: José Esteban Muñoz defines queerness as a horizon of being that can be glimpsed in utopian bonds, affiliations, designs, and gestures that exist within the present. This includes art, writing, political protest, performance, public sex, and theater.

As queer artists of color, we saw parallels between the ever-changing lives of Playhouse Theater and the horizons of queerness. Even though Playhouse Theater only operated for two years, it took on multiple lives after being shut down, later becoming Academy Theater, as well as the National African American Museum. Both queerness and the Playhouse Theater continue to evolve.

On a starker note, we saw the similarities between the careers of artists and Playhouse Theater. Artists will continuously be displaced and forgotten if we are not properly valued and compensated for the work that we do. Continue Reading »

Aram Han Sifuentes on the Protest Banner Lending Library

Posted December 20, 2018 in Blog, Case Study

Aram Han Sifuentes with a banner from her “Protest Banner Lending Library.” Photo by Virginia Harold.

On view in the Case Study Space through January, 2019, HCCC presents a banner from Chicago-based artist and activist Aram Han Sifuentes’ “Protest Banner Lending Library.” Developed in response to the 2016 presidential election, the “Protest Banner Lending Library (PBLL)” provides a safe outlet for individuals to address their concerns about current socio-political issues by organizing protest banner workshops and allowing individuals to check out the banners made from the workshops. HCCC Curator Kathryn Hall interviewed Aram about this project and how she would like to see it move forward.

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