The Idea Fund Announces $60K in Grants Awarded to 12 Recipients

by Jessica Fuentes January 26, 2023

The Idea Fund, a Houston-based re-granting program funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and administered by DiverseWorks, Aurora Picture Show, and Project Row Houses, has announced 12 projects selected to each receive $5,000 for 2023.

A promotional graphic for The Idea Fund Round 16.

Now in its 16 round of grants, The Idea Fund has supported more than 150 art projects involving over 500 artists and collectives. This year was juried by a panel that included Mesha Arant, Manager of Administration and Programs at 3Arts in Chicago, Illinois; Vinod Hopson, artist and Idea Fund grantee, Rounds 8 and 15, Houston, Texas; and Leslie Raymond, Executive Director of the Ann Arbor Film Festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

This year’s recipients includes 10 individual artists and 2 collectives exploring an array of topics, including Black culture, Queer cinema, communities facing gentrification, and society’s relationship to nature. Selected projects include installations, workshops, film screenings, and more. Learn about the selected projects below, via descriptions provided by The Idea Fund.

A photograph of an NBA jersey screen printed with text that reads, "It can't all be all sudden death."

Tay Butler, “Sudden Death,” 2022, found replica NBA jerseys, screen printed text. Image credit: courtesy of the artist

Tay ButlerThe Play

The Play is a live performance and installation work that reorients basketball away from an output of Black culture, and reframes the sport as a tool to serve Black culture. With support from The Idea Fund, Mr. Butler will develop a live performance and installation work intended to bring viewers into the entanglement of community, collective assembly and the uncertain path to achieve basketball greatness. 

A photograph of a film screening with people seated watching.

Baird Campbell, “The Big Queer Pop-Up event Lacrima Cristi at Project Row Houses,” 2022. Image credit: courtesy of Michael Robinson.

Baird Campbell – The Big Queer Pop Up

The Big Queer Pop Up seeks to expand the reach of queer cinema beyond traditional cinematic spaces through pop-up screenings in community centers, bars, parking lots, and other public spaces. As a guerrilla-style initiative, this project will allow The Big Queer Pop Up team to meet queer people where they already are and activate existing community hubs through projection, and not in the rarified spaces to which queer film is often relegated.

A black and white photograph of people seated at a street corner with face masks on.

Brian Ellison, “Community Covid Year,” 2020, digital photo. Image credit: courtesy of the artist

Brian EllisonNapoleon’s Vanishing Point

With support of The Idea Fund, Mr. Ellison will develop the community film Napoleon’s Vanishing Point. Asking –What would it look, sound and feel like to capture a community that is rapidly disappearing due to being swallowed by gentrification? Napoleon’s Vanishing Point tells the story of Mr. Ellison’s neighborhood in Houston’s Third Ward and the people in it. His block is one of few blocks that still communes daily via barbecue, card games, music, dominoes, disagreements and laughter.

A photograph of a person's hand suspended over a pile of leaves, small colorful metallic bugs fly around the hand.

Jake Eshelman, “Telling of the Bees Field Study,” 2021, digital pigment print, 24 x 36 inches. Image credit: courtesy of the artist

Jake Eshelman – (Bio)Diversity Bonds: Mapping Houston’s Ecological Heritage through Native Bees

(Bio)Diversity Bonds is a hybrid art exhibit and guided nature walk with the Houston Arboretum. (Bio)Diversity Bonds empowers Houstonians to identify, celebrate, and support the many native bee species that have helped create the unique coastal prairie ecosystem that cradles our city, its people, and our astounding (bio)diversity. With support from The Idea Fund, Mr. Eshelman will conduct a visual field study of local pollinators in the Houston Arboretum prairie and develop an expert-led community nature walk that enables participants to meet and identify our native bee populations firsthand.

A photograph of a quilted object made by Marley Foster.

Marley Foster, “What Protects, Embroidery detail,” 2022, grandmothers’ used fabric, artist’s old clothing, community member’s & loved ones’ donated fabrics, embroidery, 4 x 5. Image credit: courtesy of the artist

Marley FosterFlag Diary (What Protects)

Flag Diary (What Protects) is a new program of public works developed through a series of community quilting workshops. With support of The Idea Fund, the workshops will accompany an exhibition of the same name at Art League Houston. Workshops will focus on patchwork patterns and embroidered text, considering quilts as familial diaries and testing how these complicated objects speak the language of public discourse.

A mixed-media work by Naomi Kuo of the exterior of a house.

Naomi Kuo, “Corner Home,” 2018, mixed media on paper, 24 x 18 inches. Image credit: courtesy of the artist

Naomi Kuo – Garden Connections

Garden Connections is a project that traces the web of relationships that are built up over the exchange of seeds, home-grown veggies, and gardening know-how in the Asian American communities of Houston. Through documentary mixed media zines and garden exchange events, Ms. Kuo will use their Idea Fund grant to expand on the healing potential of these everyday practices and to celebrate the concrete bonds that help keep communities together.

A silhouette of a creature with sharp teeth and claws is in front of a colorful flat landscape backdrop.

Ruhee Maknojia, still image from the animation “Paisley’s Odyssey,” duration 22 minutes. Image credit: courtesy of the artist

Ruhee MaknojiaOutdoor Animation Screening

Animation artist Ruhee Maknojia will use their Idea Fund grant to develop and present a series of outdoor animation screenings in the Greenspoint Mall parking lot as a way to highlight international and Houston-based animation artists outside of the city center. 

A photograph of shipping container buildings.

Matt Manalo’s Alief Art House, 2022. Image credit: courtesy of the artist

Matt ManaloAlief Art House Residency

With support from The Idea Fund, Mr. Manalo will develop and host the Alief Art House Residency, a three-week long residency for a high school Senior to explore art-making and have full creative freedom in the Alief Art House shipping container gallery.

A still image from a video of two women talking.

Eileen Maxson, still from “My Mom Knows Her Stuff,” 2020, single-channel HD video, color, sound, 15:41 minutes. Image credit: courtesy of the artist

Eileen Maxson Heirloom Haggle with the Maxsons

Tempered with good humor and influenced by audience engagement, Heirloom Haggle with the Maxsons, is a series of livestream videos in which artist Eileen Maxson’s parents try to convince her to inherit their most beloved “stuff.” The multiple livestream “episodes” will be a twist on the Antiques Roadshow TV series and focus on items from Ms. Maxson’s parent’s massive collection of porcelain collectibles, Hummel figurines, fine china, and crystal stemware.

A photograph of an array of magazines posted on a wall.

Alexis Melvin, “Trans Road Show,” 2022, video still. Image credit: courtesy of the artist

Alexis Melvin – Trans History Roadshow

The Trans History Roadshow is an educational TV Show that will air locally in Houston and be made available for viewing online. Modeled after BBC/PBS series “The Antiques Roadshow,” the Trans History Roadshow will feature guest experts presenting examinations and explanations of select art and rare historical artifacts from Houston area transgender art and history archives.

A photograph of an installation of several large plants with bright lights hanging from the ceiling.

Lorena Molina, “Reconciliation Garden” at the Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, 2021-2022, installation with various plants. Image credit: courtesy of the artist

Lorena Molina – At what cost? (working title)

With the support from The Idea Fund, Ms. Molina will develop a large corn maze installation with over 2000 pieces of dried corn stalks inside a gallery to discuss topics of immigration, safety and freedom, and who gets to feel safe and free. The installation will ask visitors to consider their instincts in the process of moving through the maze while highlighting the challenges of diasporic journeys and immigration experiences. 

A photograph of a person standing in front of a white building.

Sarah Sudhoff, “Beacon, Blue,” 2023, 24 x 30 inches. Image credit: courtesy of the artist

Sarah SudhoffExit Interview

Exit Interview is a multi-sensory exhibition that invites the Houston public to give voice to an unheard conversation they were either never given permission or never had the opportunity to have with a romantic partner or loved one. With support from The Idea Fund grant, Ms. Sudhoff will develop a series of new works through community collaborations that will harness and embrace our collective humanity through shared humor, love, sadness, and perseverance.

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