The Idea Fund Awards $60,000 to 14 Houston Projects

by Jessica Fuentes February 1, 2024

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 14 projects grants ranging from $2,500 to $5,000.

The Idea Fund’s Round 17 marks 15 years of the program supporting artists in the Greater Houston area. Since its establishment, the fund has provided grants for 157 visual art projects led by over 500 artists and collectives. 

This round was juried by artist Tay Butler, who was a Round 16 grantee; Ekrem Serdar, Curator at Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center in Buffalo, New York; and Connie Yu, artist and Project Manager at The Velocity Fund, which is administered by Philadelphia Contemporary in Pennsylvania. The panelists selected 14 projects from 91 eligible applicants.

In a press release Mr. Butler noted, “In the art world, we are encouraged to maintain tunnel vision and focus all of our energies towards individual success and opportunities. But I firmly believe it a duty to also serve your art community, whether as volunteers, jurors, educators or simply supporters.”

A total of $60,000 has been awarded to 8 individual artists and 6 collectives or collaborative duos. The individual artists grantees are Salomé Benalcázar, Sebastien Boncy, Ian Gerson, Erika Mei Chua Holum, Deniz Lopez, Morgan Newton, Anne Park, and Trinity Stardust. Collaborative duos include Liyen Chong & Eddie Garcia (Inspire), Farrah Fang & Urethra Burns, Ryan Hollaway & bowan.ya, Katherine Trimm and Linda Brown, and the artists collectives are The Peanut Collective and Xochipilli Collective. 

Ms. Yu remarked, “It was an honor to be a part of this regranting effort and decide collaboratively on a group of grantees who will extend their work into their communities with heart, humor, and responsiveness. From the applications, and our three organizational hosts, I learned more about Houston, the arts here, and the urgencies and textures moving the artists’ work.”

Grantees will present their projects to the public at the 2024 Award Presentation on Tuesday, February 20, at 7 p.m., at the Eldorado Ballroom (2310 Elgin St, Houston, TX 77004). Learn more about the awardees below, via descriptions provided by The Idea Fund.

Salomé Benalcázar – Sus voces nos hilvanan/Their voices baste 

Sus voces hilvanan/Their voices baste is a collective loom-based project that highlights the loss of women to patriarchal violence, both conceptually and symbolically. Developed through an open call and working closely with family members, Ms. Benalcazar will coordinate the creation of a series of separate textile pieces with phrases of Latinas who lost their lives to femicide. Participants will choose their beloved women’s words and decide how to attach the pieces. Weaving phrases together to create a collective poem that honors these women’s lives. 

Sebastien Boncy – Houston Loops & Lines

Houston Loops & Lines is a self-published book project designed to introduce a larger audience to the possibilities of “Purple Time Space Swamp” (PTSS). PTSS is an ongoing visual archive of the city of Houston with over 4,000 copyright-free images and counting, available to all by request. With the support of The Idea Fund, Mr. Boncy will develop Houston Loops & Lines, an affordable primer of the archive shared with local libraries. In addition to the book release, Mr. Boncy will develop photo tours of unorthodox H-town spaces and an artist dialogue on imaging the city.

Liyen Chong & Eddie Garcia aka Inspire – Intergenerational Grief Work, Joy and Triumph

Intergenerational Grief Work, Joy and Triumph is a collaborative project developed by visual artist Liyen Chong and Houston poet Eddie Garcia a.k.a. Inspire. The project seeks to understand how grief is discussed in public spaces and how discussing grief can promote healing, working toward self-advocacy and reconciliation. With support from The Idea Fund, Ms. Chong and Inspire will host a series of intentionally designed conversations that explore intergenerational and complicated grief work through the creative acts of storytelling, writing, and artmaking. The process will culminate with a “Grief Work Manifesto” that will be created to be shared publicly online, highlighting traditional and non-traditional ways to move from grief to triumph and joy. 

Farrah Fang & Urethra Burns – The Future is Trans!: Amplifying The Next Generation of Trans & Nonbinary Voices

THE FUTURE IS TRANS!: Amplifying The Next Generation of Trans & Nonbinary Voices is a group exhibition and curatorial project of Farrah Fang and Urethra Burns. With support from The Idea Fund, Ms. Fang and Mx. Burns will select emerging Texan trans and nonbinary artists of different mediums to present new and existing work as part of the project. The project seeks to support those who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to participate in formal art spaces due to transphobia, racism, poverty, and other detrimental factors. In addition to the curated exhibition, Ms. Fang and Mx. Burns will incorporate a series of discussions, workshops, performances, shared resources, and mentorship opportunities for the exhibition artists while centering BIPOC trans and gender-nonconforming voices.

Ian Gerson – Invisible Landmarks

Invisible Landmarks is a project focused on telling queer and trans stories in Galveston, using drawings, zines, and guided audio tours. This will be the project’s second chapter and will embrace speculative history, being told from the point of view of a trans person attempting to access care at an early gender clinic in Galveston in the 1970s. Through drawing, writing, and recorded audio, Mx. Gerson will create fictional “archival” materials offering the viewer a lens into a trans experience in the past informed by experiences of themself and their friends in the present.

Erika Mei Chua Holum – Sahara Dust Residency

Sahara Dust Residencies are climate-responsive artistic inquiries into the affective and temporal region formed annually through migrating dust from the Sahara Desert. Each year, dust travels across the Atlantic Ocean from North Africa to the U.S. Gulf Coast, the Caribbean, and South America. With the support of The Idea Fund, Ms. Chua Holum will develop a summer residency program that will activate forms of knowledge-sharing across the temporary and migratory region created by the dust clouds. The project will culminate as an exhibition in Houston, with local, regional, and international artists who live, breathe, and co-exist with the same dust particles–from North Africa, Southern Spain, the Gulf South, the Caribbean, and South America. 

Ryan Hollaway & bowan.ya – a memes to cope with reality

With support from The Idea Fund, Ryan Hollaway and bowan.ya will continue to develop conversations around internet culture in Houston developed through their exhibition a memes to cope with reality. Together they will work to highlight the use of absurdism and dark humor found in memes as a coping mechanism within the digital sanctuary and showcase how memes have moved from digital jokes to a significant art form that resonates with a collective consciousness. The project will uplift original works by local Houston artists that embody the chaos, absurdity, and at times, grim humor of our human existence, bridging the gap between the interweb universe and the physical realm. This project will serve as a time and location capsule that preserves internet culture in the unique context of Houston’s creative landscape.

Deniz Lopez – The Lit: A Poetic Storyteller Series II

The Lit is an intimate poetic storyteller series featuring notable and established Houston-based poets who create intimate storytelling experiences with poets not just reading their work, but telling us the stories behind the words. With the support of The Idea Fund, Deniz Lopez will launch the second part of the series featuring six months of Lit Events to be featured on All Real Radio. 

Morgan Newton – The South Got Something to Say

The South Got Something to Say is a visual tribute to the resilient voices of black Southern women with a focus on often overlooked women rappers from the 90s – 2000s. Inspired by Andre 3000’s 1995 Source Award speech, The South Got Something to Say, uncovers the complex layers of Black womanhood through painting and archive video installation. With support from The Idea Fund, Ms. Newton will develop new work that centers on self-expression and confronts the historical disparities within the music and media industry. 

Anne Park – Korean Art: Minhwa

The Idea Fund will support Anne Park to research and develop new work inspired by Minhwa, a popular Korean folk painting technique, to expand their artistic practice. In addition to the new works, Ms. Park will develop a series of conversations around the history, genres, and techniques of Minhwa as a way to forge interconnectivity between Western and Eastern arts.

Katherine Trimm and Linda Brown – Art in the Dark

Art in the Dark is a collaborative project developed by Katherine Trimm, a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (CTVI), and Linda Brown a Braillist that seeks to provide an interactive art experience that is accessible for Houston’s visually impaired and differently-abled community. With the help of The Idea Fund, Ms. Trimm and Ms. Brown will curate a selection of work from their community into public exhibition with “touchable” art that can be accessed by senses other than sight. 

Trinity Stardust – Stardust Unions

Stardust Unions is a public wedding performance art piece, encompassing the opportunity to be flamboyant, creative, celebrated, and/or legally unionized by a same-sex certified officiant, TriStar. The project will explore the journey of acceptance for the LBGTQ BIPOC community by the Black Church within the Southern States, many of which are governed by laws that prohibit marrying same-sex couples. With support from The Idea Fund, Trinity Stardust will create an immersive experience that seeks to provide a much-needed safe space for BIPOC Queers to be loved and celebrated on their wedding day. 

The Peanut Collective – Check Out Artists at the Library

With support from The Idea Fund, The Peanut Collective (founded by Bridget Bray and featuring artists Guadalupe Hernandez, Kill Joy, Ruhee Maknojia, and Matt Manalo) will develop Check Out Artists at the Library, a series of free and public artists workshops for youth in the Sharpstown community created to take place at the Walter Neighborhood Library. The creative workshops will offer students a range of hands-on creative-making sessions including but not limited to, puppet making and puppet performance, creative writing and bookmaking, animation, papel picado (cut paper) making and installation, and the creation of natural art supplies, along with recycling and reclamation as a way to generate sustainable art materials.

Xochipilli Collective – Now Accepting Donations

Now Accepting Donations is a Compost Toilet Project that fuses sustainability and art. Through a collaboration of Indigenous artists, this innovative project combines a functional waste solution with symbolic stained glass art, featuring an ascending water bird—a powerful metaphor for life-giving water. The permanent structure, designed collaboratively with the community, promises an immersive experience. This interactive installation invites participants to contribute through toilet use, bridging waste reduction, art interaction, and community engagement. This project challenges waste norms, fostering cultural preservation and environmental consciousness. Now Accepting Donations for a greener tomorrow.

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Garry Reece February 1, 2024 - 15:22

Very happy for my friend Jean Sébastien.
Congratulations bruh!
Well deserved….about time he won something .


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