Gaspar Enríquez, Michael Ray Charles, James Watkins & Diana Kersey Among 2023/2024 Texas State Artists

by Hannah Dean October 17, 2023

The Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) recently announced the 2023 and 2024 Texas State Musicians, Poet Laureates, and Artists. These designations are made for “the exceptional quality of their work and for their outstanding commitment to the arts in Texas.”  

Texas State Musicians Gary Clark, Jr. (2023) and Kelly Clarkson (2024) and Poet Laureates ire’ne lara silva (2023) and Amanda Johnson (2024) are joined by 2D Visual Artists Gaspar Enríquez (2023) and Michael Ray Charles (2024), as well as 3D Visual Artists James Watkins (2023) and Diana Kersey (2024.) 

A photograph of artist Gaspar Enríquez.

Gaspar Enríquez

Painter Gaspar Enríquez was born in 1942 in El Paso’s Segundo Barrio, where he returned to teach at Bowie High School for 32 years. His hyper-realistic portraits range from former students to celebrities. Mr. Enríquez holds an MA in Metals from New Mexico State University and a BA in Art from the University of Texas at El Paso. Read a review of his work in Glasstire here.

A photograph of artist Michael Ray Charles.

Michael Ray Charles. Photo: Aarik Charles.

The 2024 Texas State Visual Artist (2D) Michael Ray Charles received his MFA from the University of Houston (UH) in 1993. He has taught both at UH and at the University of Texas in Austin, where he currently holds the E. W. Doty Professorship in Fine Arts and the Frank C. Erwin, Jr. Centennial Professorship in Fine Arts. His paintings explore racist stereotypes of black people in advertising and broader culture. Learn more about his work via the Art21 video series here

Lubbock-based ceramics artist James Watkins’ (the 2023 3D Visual Artist) work is held in more than 21 institutions’ permanent collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (as seen in its Kinder Building), and the Renwick Craft Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. Mr. Watkins’ former student and fellow ceramic artist Diana Kersey joins him as the 2024 Texas State 3D Visual Artist. Their shared connection dates back to 40 years ago, when Mr. Watkins was the organizer and director of the MacKenzie Terrace Pottery Center in Lubbock, where a fourth-grade Ms. Kersey attended for the first time on a class field trip. 

A photograph of artist James Watkins.

James Watkins. Photo: Bonni Oakes.

About their connection now, and then, Mr. Watkins said, “It’s almost like a miracle. I would do firings with interesting things like putting banana peels in the fire to show the students examples of what different materials would do to the fired clay. [Kersey] must have been nine years old, and after the workshop, she went home and her parents let her dig up the back yard, where she found clay! You never know if you’re making an impression, and to have it come back to you after all these years is really neat.” 

When asked about what the designation of Texas State Visual Artist means to him, Mr. Watkins replied, “It makes me feel like what I’ve been doing has made a difference. It makes me feel really proud to be a part of something so big. I feel overwhelmed, appreciative, and thankful.” You can read an interview with James Watkins on Glasstire here.   

A photograph of artist Diana Kersey.

Diana Kersey. Photo: Clara Lewis-Valero.

Ms. Kersey currently resides in San Antonio, where she serves as faculty at Northwest Vista College and operates her clay studio, Kersey Ceramics LLC. She has been commissioned for various public works, including by the City of San Antonio, VIA Metropolitan Transit, the San Antonio River Authority, and the City of Harlingen. Her largest work, The Riparian Edge, is on view on the facade of the Oxbow Building in San Antonio. You can read about her work in Glasstire here.

About the Texas Laureates and State Artists Program
Nominees must be native Texans or have resided in the state for at least five years. They must have attained the highest levels of excellence and success in their respective disciplines and earned a statewide, regional or national reputation for their high caliber work.

Any Texas citizen was able to nominate an artist in any of the four categories and self-nominations were encouraged. TCA reviewed all nominations and developed a list of finalists for submission to the Texas Poet Laureate, State Musician and State Artist Committee. The committee, composed of members appointed by the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, made the final selections. The next call for nominations will take place in the fall of 2024.

For more information about the Texas Laureates and State Artists, please go here.

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Audrey Worman October 21, 2023 - 15:30

BRAVO to all these artists who’s diverse works of art make me quell!!!


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