Vinod Hopson, 1975 – 2023

by Jessica Fuentes March 5, 2023

Vinod Hopson, a Houston artist, storyteller, and cultural worker, died on February 28 at the age of 48.

A headshot of Vinod Hopson.

Vinod Hopson

Mr. Hopson was born on January 24, 1975 in Hoboken, New Jersey to Dawn (Miller) Hopson and Paul Hopson. His parents chose the name Vinod to reflect his mother’s Indian heritage. In India and Nepal, the name is used to mean “delight,” “enjoyment,” “pleasure,” and “happiness.” Mr. Hopson graduated from high school in Parsippany, NJ in 1993 and moved to Houston in 1996. He graduated cum laude with a BFA in Photography and Digital Media from the University of Houston (UH) in 2005. 

An event photograph of Jennifer Ward and Vinod Hopson.

Jennifer Ward and Vinod Hopson at the Houston Center for Photography Print Auction, 2014. Photo by Laura Burlton.

During his time at UH, he became interested in the work of FotoFest founders Frederick Baldwin and Wendy Watriss. From 2001 to 2020 he managed the organization’s communications and press. Through his work at FotoFest, Mr. Hopson met his soulmate, Jennifer Ward. The couple married in 2010 and welcomed their daughter, Aarya Zuzu Hopson, into the world in 2018.

Earlier this week, FotoFest posted the following statement about Mr. Hopson on its social media channels: “It is with heavy hearts and deep sadness that we mourn the loss of Vinod Hopson, our beloved friend, former colleague, and champion of FotoFest. Vinod’s presence graced FotoFest for over 20 years, and he will always be part of the great legacy of the organization. We will miss him more than words can express…”

From 2004 to 2007, Mr. Hopson also held positions at other Houston-area art organizations, including DiverseWorks and Aurora Picture Show. Most recently, Mr. Hopson worked as the manager of Marketing and Creative Services at the School of Public Health at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.

Artistically, Mr. Hopson is best known for his research and storytelling project, Those Who Desire, which highlighted people and places of color that have long been overshadowed by the predominantly white narratives and histories of Houston. Through the culmination of detailed maps, interviews, and extensive research, Mr. Hopson led walking and bus tours of Downtown Houston, the city’s Historic Freedmen’s Town, and the 1917 Camp Logan Uprising. His most recent research focused on the Brazos River, where, according to the project website, “the state’s first slave plantations were established, the first Texas millionaires were made, and where Jim Crow tactics were first tested large-scale.”

A black and white photograph of Vinod Hopson leading a tour.

Vinod Hopson leading a tour, c. 2016. Photo: The Idea Fund.

Mr. Hopson was a two-time recipient of 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. He received the award in 2016 and again in 2021. The funds went toward the development of Those Who Desire. Beyond this project, Mr. Hopson was an important fixture in the Houston art scene and was frequently invited to participate on panels and in collaborative projects.

In a statement on its Facebook page, DiverseWorks commented, “We mourn the passing of Vinod Hopson, a friend, colleague, and former employee of DiverseWorks (2005-07) who we greatly loved and admired for his unique mind, storytelling finesse, kindness, and generous spirit. His brilliant project, Those Who Desire… had a direct effect upon DiverseWorks staff and our programming… we are immeasurably grateful to have had the opportunity to work with a human being of such compassion, dignity, and humor…”

Of her husband, Mrs. Ward has said, “Vinod was the personification of his name. Wherever he went, he carried joy with him to light up the lives of those he met. He had a passion for cooking, trivia, music and pampering chickens. He was a wonderful son, a loyal brother, a loving husband and father. To the countless hearts he touched, Vinod leaves a legacy of love, hope and courage. He will be sorely missed.”

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 am on Saturday, March 18 at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Midtown, with a reception to follow.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Vinod’s memory to The National Multiple Sclerosis Society.


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Dave Renner March 5, 2023 - 10:22

We had the great pleasure to meet Vinod through our son Patrick and daughter-in-law Emily. He was a very gentle soul and I wish I had gotten to know him more. We was a lovely person and the world is better for him to have shared his time with us.

Garry Reece March 5, 2023 - 12:32

I first heard of Vinod from my daughter Irene, as he was the curator for her BFA show. I met Vinod during artist Jefferson Pinders reworking of The Camp Logan incident in 2019. Beautiful spirit and insightful intellect bound in a personage that always exuded humility and decorum. Genuine and sincere whenever we encountered each other, I will miss him terribly.

Chelby King March 13, 2023 - 17:26

Compassion and prayers to Vinod’s wife and daughter. The loss of Vinod saddens us all. God speed, Vinod, my friend.

Beth Secor March 5, 2023 - 16:04

Vinod, you were a ray of sunshine, and will be greatly missed by all who knew you. The deepest love goes to Jennifer, Zuzu and all your family and your multitude of friends.

Victor Hopson March 5, 2023 - 17:18

I’m proud to be his brother. What a great man he was and will remain. Can’t wait to sit and tell jokes with you again. Love you my brother.

Sukhada Tatke March 7, 2023 - 04:34

The day I woke up to the devastating news that my friend, my dear friend Vinod, had passed away, I was wearing my FotoFest tshirt. Working at FotoFest was the best time for me in Houston, not least because I shared those crazy intense months working on the Biennial with Vinod right next to me. In our little corner in the office, we spoke about anything and everything; we laughed, bitched, discussed our hopes and dreams. Quickly he became one of my closest friends in Houston and in life.

He told me stories of his Indo-American family, how his mother grew up in Pune before moving to the States with her white American husband. Complete with sounds and sensations, he brought his mother’s India alive as though he himself had lived there. He asked me a ton of questions about India. He told me it had taken him a while to own his Indian identity, to stop calling himself Vi-nod to please the American ear and to embrace the right pronunciation of his name. Vinod. He was truly the embodiment of his name – he was delightful; he was easily amused; he laughed hard; he lit up lives with his humour.

Vinod was a great storyteller and an even better listener. He gave you his undivided attention when you spoke; he paused and reflected; he asked the right questions. He was a big champion of my work; he always made it a point to tell me he was my biggest fan – something I am sure he told other people too, because that’s how he was, you know? He made everyone he spoke to feel very special, very seen. But he also put his money where his mouth was. Literally. He subscribed to a paywalled publication I wrote for just so he could read my work. I mean, I used *his* account to read *my* published stories.

Exactly a month before he passed, we had a lovely long conversation on a video call. I could not have imagined it would be our last. He said he was in a happy space, that he was creatively inspired and was full of ideas. He said a big change was coming, that he could feel it.

Since the news came, I have been moving along the contours of my life as though my world is still whole with Vinod in it. But I know it is not. And this reality will be made more and more certain as the days of not hearing from him, not receiving dumb memes and reels from him, will shade into weeks into months into years… A big change did come as he predicted, and it makes no sense.

Goodbye friend, my kind, warm, generous, hilarious, brilliant friend.

Lily Amezcua March 9, 2023 - 07:46

My most heartfelt and deepest condolences to you all. May God comfort you all with the beautiful memories spent with him. Sending you all much love and strength during this difficult time.

Brock March 7, 2023 - 08:47

My deepest condolences to Jennifer and family. Vinod was an exceptional person and I always looked forward to seeing his grin and hearing his latest stories from working in the frantic world of Fotofest.

Roland Lubiger March 8, 2023 - 18:41

We are very sad about this news. rest in peace . You were a brother and friend to our son Bertram in Texas 23 years ago. All the best for the entire Hopsen family!


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