The Idea Fund Awards $5,000 to Support 12 Houston-based Projects

by Jessica Fuentes January 27, 2022

The Idea Fund, a re-granting program open to Houston-based artists and administered by DiverseWorks, Aurora Picture Show, and Project Row Houses, has awarded twelve projects each $5,000.

The Idea Fund is one of thirty-two regional re-granting programs funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. This year, for Round 15 of The Idea Fund, which is the thirteenth year of its awards to artists, the organizations received 108 applications. Jurors for the prizes included Bria Lauren, 2019 Idea Fund recipient; Daniela Lieja Quintanar, Chief Curator and Director of Programming at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions; and Nancy Zastudil, Independent Curator and Editor and 2009 Idea Fund recipient.

Below is a list of 2022 grantees. Scroll down to see summaries of their projects, via The Idea Fund. 

Francis Almendárez & Mary Montenegro
Felicia Johnson
Manuel Alejandro Rodríguez-Delgado
Reyes Ramirez
Kemi OG
Sindhu Thirumalaisamy
Fred Schmidt-Arenales
3 of Cups (Aveda Adara, Emilý Æyer, Hugo Pérez, Kelly Johnson and Philip Karjeker)
Collective Artists in Solidarity with Palestine & The Palestinian Youth Movement
Found Me (Matthew Ramirez & Anthony Obi)
Fair Housing Defenders (Sasha Marshall Smith & Melissa Diaz)

In the press release from Idea Fund, Ms. Lauren stated, in part, “It was an honor to be invited as a juror for TIF Round 15. I am really proud and honored to be amongst some of the most passionate, innovative, and courageous artists in the city. It takes a lot of vulnerability and trust within oneself to put their artistic ideas into words and allow their work to be viewed and critiqued. My prayer is that each applicant, awarded or not, sees this as an opportunity to keep pouring into their practice…I am very excited to see everyone’s work evolve and come into fruition! ” 

Ms. Zastudil added, “It was a powerful and illuminating experience to read The Idea Fund Round 15 applications and learn more about Houston-area artists and their visions for how art is vital to their communities. I am deeply grateful to the TIF partners and to the artists for trusting us jurors with their extraordinary ideas and efforts.”

Learn more about these projects in an online public presentation on Wednesday, February 2 at 7 pm. The program will be hosted by Project Row Houses and registration is required

Artists: Francis Almendárez + Mary Montenegro
Project: Titulado (Working Title)
Project Description: Coming together under the curatorial project Titulado, Almendárez and Montenegro will use their Idea Fund grant to support a series of studio visits with Houston area artists and the creation of an exhibition in 2022. Titulado seeks to present a myriad of ways in which artists and cultural producers fill the gaps of (his)tory by the telling and re-telling of cultural and historical narratives that remain in the periphery.

Artist: Felicia Johnson
Project: JuJu Strolling Through
Project Description: JuJu Strolling Through is the second chapter of the Felicia Johnson’s Ghost House Project, a photography and lecture series that documents empty spaces in Third Ward, highlighting their histories and cleansing them of past blockages. Johnson will publish a collection of new and old photos featuring herself as JuJu, an ephemeral church lady/fairy, strolling through different areas of Houston and dropping magical gems of change and transformation.

Artist: Koomah
Project: Gloryhole Theater
Project Description: Gloryhole Theater is an interactive cinemaspace utilizing themes of voyeurism, isolationism, and anonymity to encourage a return to cinema viewing by creating a desirable socially distanced cinema. Intersecting mediums of interactive exhibition construction, film, and live performance, Gloryhole Theater invites audiences to view short films of secret sex stories made by LGBTQIA+ folks and sex workers through bathroom stall-style seating with gloryhole viewing ports.

Artist: Manuel Alejandro Rodríguez-Delgado
Project: Future Contingencies: Exercises in Technological Disobedience
Project Description: Future Contingencies / Exercises in Technological Disobedience (FC/ETD) is an open-ended body of work intended to develop self-built technical solutions for emerging global crises. These DIY solutions will consist of various prototypes for air and water purification systems, mobile shelters, and solar power banks. With support from the Idea Fund, Rodríguez-Delgado will create a publication that will be freely disseminated, a series of open-studio styled workshops, and an exhibition in the Galveston community. 

Artist: Reyes Ramirez
Project: The Houston Artist Speaks Through Grids
Project Description: The Houston Artist Speaks Through Grids is an online exhibition featuring works by Houston artists of color from different racial, ethnic, and disciplinary backgrounds bound by one theme: grid(s). The online exhibition will feature literature, conversations, efforts, and resources by guest educators, professionals, community partners, and/or writers to better understand the history, current effects of, and futures through grids, such as urban planning, gentrification, and institutional racism in America. Funds will be used to primarily pay collaborators for their intellectual contributions, in addition to making all materials as accessible as possible through captions, transcripts, and translations.

Artist: Kemi OG
Project: The Moments Project – Phase 3: Passport
Project Description: The Moments Project – Phase 3: Passport is a multi-media art exhibition highlighting local artists of color, mostly African immigrants, who use their artistic practices to tell the stories of their complex and intersectional identities as Black people, Africans, and Immigrants and the challenges they face while reaching for the American dream. The artist’s goal is to highlight the diversity of contemporary African dance, art, and culture, and the myriads of Black and African immigrant experiences in a unique form that brings value to the individuals who work tirelessly to bring these stories to life through their art.

Artist: Fred Schmidt-Arenales
Project: Untitled Ike Dike Film
Project Description: Schmidt-Arenales will produce a film about the history, development, and speculative future of the “Ike Dike” plan as a coastal barrier to protect against hurricane-induced storm surges. The film focuses on something that only exists as an idea: a giant movable wall spanning Galveston Island to the Bolivar Peninsula, intended to protect the vulnerable property, corporations, residents, and infrastructure from the catastrophic hurricanes which strike the region.

Artist: Sindhu Thirumalaisamy
Project: Driving Through (working title)
Project Description: Driving Through is an experimental film that critically engages the genre of the road movie. It explores the affective dimensions of driving in an automotive city where the roads are sinking and somehow never wide enough. Driving through Houston, the artist flips through South Asian radio stations and chats on speaker-phone with friends, old and new. Their conversations seek out a transformative vision of un/belonging for diasporan communities in the city.

Artists: 3 of Cups (Aveda Adara, Emilý Æyer, Hugo Pérez, Kelly Johnson, and Philip Karjeker)
Project: 3 of Cups Community Convening & Queer Futures Zine
Project Description: With support from The Idea Fund, 3 of Cups seeks to produce their inaugural Community Convening and creation of a Queer Futures Zine in 2022. 3 of Cups is a newly founded collective that seeks to amplify the voices of queer and trans Black, Indigenous, people of color, and other marginalized members of the Houston art community through arts programming, social practice, and research-driven cultural work. 

Artists: Collective Artists in Solidarity with Palestine & The Palestinian Youth Movement
Project: In the Sun Catalog
Project Description: In collaboration with the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM), the Collective Artists in Solidarity with Palestine (CASP) seek to build further support for Palestinian solidarity in Houston. Together the two collectives will revisit their most recent exhibition, In The Sun, by creating a response catalog featuring commissioned writings, essays and interviews by local organizers, artists, and community members.

Artists: Found Me (Matthew Ramirez & Anthony Obi)
Project: Found Me Magazine – Issue #3
Project Description: Found Me is a mutable chronicle of BIPOC artists, writers, creators, and thinkers who live in, have lived in, or otherwise have strong ties to Houston. It is an art book that asks people to express themselves how they see fit, whether they are a visual artist who wants to submit a handwritten prayer or a florist who sends in photography and a personal essay. With their Idea Fund Support, Ramirez and Obi plan to scale up the project and print high quality books. The grant will allow them to further develop Found Me Magazine in new directions.

Artists: Fair Housing Defenders (Sasha Marshall Smith & Melissa Diaz)
Project: Fair Housing Defenders Comic Book Series
Project Description: The Fair Housing Defenders program educates readers about recognizing and reporting acts of housing discrimination through a comic book series that introduces readers to Defenders: Justus, Aya, Abel, Taranjit, Liberty, Sang, Shilah and Shenandoah, giving readers insight into their individual journeys in fair housing and how they overcome acts of discrimination.

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