Samora Pinderhughes to Perform at the Eldorado Ballroom in Houston

by Jessica Fuentes March 19, 2024

Samora Pinderhughes, an award-winning composer, pianist, vocalist, filmmaker, and multidisciplinary artist, will perform at Project Row Houses’ (PRH) Eldorado Ballroom on Thursday, March 21.

A photograph of a performance by Samora Pinderhughes at Carnegie Hall.

Samora Pinderhughes at Carnegie Hall

Mr. Pinderhughes is a graduate of The Juilliard School and is currently pursuing a PhD in Creative Practice and Critical Inquiry at Harvard University. A press release from the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, which is co-hosting the program, explained, “Working in the tradition of the black surrealists throughout the African Diaspora who bend word, sound, and image towards the causes of revolution, Pinderhughes is a prison and police abolitionist, an anti-capitalist, and an advocate for process over product.” Mr. Pinderhughes has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Museum of Modern Art, the Sundance Film Festival, and the Kennedy Center. In 2020 he received Chamber Music America’s Visionary Award, and in 2019 he was a Creative Capital grantee.

For this week’s performance, Mr. Pinderhughes brings his work The Healing Project to Houston. Launched in 2014, the project is an interview-based work that examines U.S. systems of prison, detention, and structural violence. Since it was first conceived, The Healing Project has expanded to include a variety of creative works illustrating the realities of violence, policing, and incarceration. In 2022, Mr. Pinderhughes received a $1 million grant from the Mellon Foundation in support of expanding The Healing Project

A still image from a film by Christian Padron.

Christian Padron, “Masculinity,” a film that is part of “The Healing Project.”

In a statement on his website, Mr. Pinderhughes explains, “This project also tries to approach many interlocking issues and realities at the same time – because I believe very strongly that it’s all tied together! We can’t solve one thing without actually dealing with how all these structural violences are interconnected. Policing is connected to incarceration, is connected to detention, is connected to surveillance, is connected to gentrification, is connected to capitalism, is connected to violence, is connected to loss, is connected to grief, is connected to hurt. And the same goes for solutions; they have to be wide-ranging and link many things together in order to truly have lasting effects.” 

The U.S. has a rich history of arts programming for incarcerated individuals. The earliest known prison art program began in 1876 at the Elmira Reformatory (now the Elmira Correctional Facility) in New York. These types of programs continue across the country, and just last year, the Houston Museum of African American Culture launched an arts education program at the Harris County Jail Women’s Empowerment Center. Beyond educational offerings, arts institutions have long supported presenting works by incarcerated individuals and artists that address the prison system and policing. Some recent examples include Julie Green’s The Last Supper: 700 Plates Illustrating Final Meals of U.S. Death Row Inmates at Texas State University’s Galleries in San Marcos (2017), Walls Turned Sideways: Artists Confront the Justice System curated by Risa Puleo at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (2018), and 8×5 Houston, a series of billboards designed by artists and supported by the nonprofit Art at a Time Like This (2023).

The Healing Project is co-presented by the Mitchell Center, PRH, and the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston. Additionally, Mr. Pinderhughes is a Mitchell Center visiting artist for the 2023-2024 season.

Doors at the Eldorado Ballroom will open at 6:30 p.m. and the performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets to the event are free and can be reserved via Eventbrite

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