The venue: Asia Society Texas Center, Houston
The exhibition: Artists on Site
Artists: Laura Drey, Ahra Cho, Royal Sumikat, and Brandon Tho Harris
Video and more about the artists below:
My work explores themes of labor and movement, geography, government, race, class, and economics. The influences and experiences of family members who worked on Texas land as migrant farmers and longshoremen are the abstract narratives that inform my material choices. I weave textiles in use in the farming industry—polypropylene sacking, burlap, and twist ties—into the strands of an expansive, personal narrative. My use of these materials pays tribute to those who came before me. My Mexican and American experiences and intergenerational conversations, along with my familial bonds, home, poetry, and motherhood deepen this expression.
A lot of the time, my words lose their form and scatter into the air. But when I paint, I feel I can face that unknown. Maybe painting is the only way I can make something poetic permanent. Everything made by humanity is in a finite moment and our existing is also the sequence of moments. Making art is the path of realizing my weakness and insufficiency. I see and feel the great breath in everything. Our emotion is silence (physically). Seeing silence always fills my eyes with so many conflicts. I wait to see what happens in the creative process. Waiting for the moment is also part of the work. I wait for the creation and then stop. I try not to finish the work. My completion point is just as the senses awaken. I trace my senses and memories and look for the source of light somewhere in life.
In the days of our ancestors, storytelling was a form of community building – sharing space through oral tales and creation myths from our elders, building worlds from gestures and symbolism, and breathing life into each other by the fire. And now, as a modern-day ancestor, I am building up from that foundation. I make ancestral offerings through my art. My workspace is my altar. My tools are my talismans. These have provided me with protection, solace, and magic in times of uncertainty. My work symbolizes the divine warriors, healers, tricksters, and children that live within us. The children who play effortlessly without names. The neon indigenous-futuristic archetypes. What you experience from me is celebration through my work.
Brandon Tho Harris:
This family history was never discussed growing up. A part of my identity that is unknown to me, yet my curiosity desires to understand this hidden aspect of my history. The project has been a proactive way of addressing these traumas. My artistic practice is foundationally a collaboration between my family and I. By navigating this history, it allows my family to finally heal from years of repression. My grandmother has expressed to me how important it is to allow others to hear her story, yet does not have the language or way to do so. With this project, it has opened dialogue about this unspoken history between my family and me created an even closer bond between us.