2018 | Artists as Activists

The 2018 Conversations @ The Center lecture series features speakers on the topic of Artists as Activists, including artists whose work engages communities, is political in nature, and acts as agents for social change. The 2018 series will feature six speakers, paired in conversation around their work through three Conversations.

Lisa E. Harris and Prince Varughese Thomas

Thursday, April 12, 2018, 6:30 PM

Lisa Harris
Performing and Visual Artist

Recognized by the Huffington Post as “One of Fourteen Artists that are Transforming Opera”, Lisa E. Harris is a creator from Houston, TX. Harris is an American soprano and composer who often creates with media, performance, and installation, and is a filmmaker, singer/songwriter, writer, educator, community organizer, environmental transformer, and Mother Earth advocate as well. Harris clarifies her artistic voice through experimental film, improvisational performance and compositional practices, and further translates her music through the application of natural sciences, spirituality, popular song, melody, harmony, ritual, and ceremony. She recently performed “Work Songs” at the 52nd Venice Biennale. In 2007, Harris founded Studio Enertia, a multi-media production collective, with longstanding collaborator Alisha B. Wormsley and in 2013 began the artists run Studio Enertia Artist Residency Program in Houston. A collaborative artist with Jason Moran presents A Fats Waller Dance Party, Harris is a featured vocalist along with Meshell N’degecello on the Grammy nominated album “All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller”. She is a 2015 Valiante Award recipient and a 2016 inaugural artist in residence at The New Quorum, New Orleans, LA. Her two new opera films “Cry of the Third Eye” and “Children of the Lost” use vocal composition and film to amplify the quelled voices of youth and displaced people due to rapid gentrification in Houston’s Third Ward. Harris attained a Bachelor of Music Degree from the Mannes College and a Master of Music Degree from Manhattan School of Music.

Prince Varughese Thomas
Artist and Professor
Lamar University

Prince Varughese Thomas is an artist who is part of what has come to be known as the Indian Diaspora. A winner of the Time-Based Media in Art Prize 7 and a Texas Biennial Artist, Thomas has been invited to be a visiting artist, lecturer, panelist , and workshop instructor at numerous institutions including Ashkal Alwan Beirut, Lebanon; Indiana University; Memphis College of Art; the Light Factory, the University of Texas @ Arlington, and the Queens Museum.  Thomas’ work has been exhibited in over 150 solo and group exhibitions at museums, galleries, and alternative spaces including: Gallerie Huit, Arles, France; The Queens Museum, NY; the Zentral Bibliotheck, Zurich; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Houston Center for Photography; Bunker 8, Beijing, China; the Museum of New Art, Detroit, MI; the Alternative Museum, NY, NY; the Contemporary Museum, Atlanta, GA; FotoFest International; and The Station Museum of Contemporary Art.

Thomas received his B.A. in Psychology from the University of Texas at Arlington, and a M.F.A. from the University of Houston. He is currently a Professor of Art at Lamar University.

John Pluecker and Carrie Marie Schneider

Thursday, March 22, 2018, 6:30 PM

John Pluecker
Artist, Writer, Poet, and Language Justice Worker

John Pluecker is a writer, translator, interpreter, and artist. He frequently collaborates with artists, organizations and communities; one example is the language justice and literary experimentation collaborative Antena he co-founded with Jen Hofer in 2010. His work is informed by experimental poetics, radical aesthetics and cross-border cultural production. His texts have appeared in journals in the U.S. and Mexico, including artnet News, The Houston ChronicleThe VoltaMandorla, Aufgabe, eleven eleven, Third Text, Animal Shelter, HTMLGiant and Fence. He has translated numerous books from the Spanish, including most recently Gore Capitalism (Semiotext(e), 2018) and Antígona González (Les Figues Press, 2016). His most recent chapbook is An Accompanying Text (She Works Flexible, 2015). His book of poetry and image, Ford Over, was released in 2016 from Noemi Press. He is a member of the Macondo Writing Workshop.

Carrie Schneider

Carrie Marie Schneider is an artist interested in people’s ability to reimagine their space. Her past projects include Care House, temporary installation that transformed the suburban home she grew up in into a memorial for care and loss; Hear Our Houston, which offers the public free downloads of audio walking tours of the city, and the chance to record and upload their own; and Sunblossom Residency, a pilot program in which seven artists shared creative skills with refugee youth resettled in Houston while also sharing education and organizing experience with each other. With Jennie Ash, Schneider co-organized Charge, a Houston convening of local and national presenters to platform artist-led models, advocate for equitable compensation of artists, and consider artists’ work in the larger economy. With Susan Rogers of the University of Houston Community Design Resource Center, Schneider worked with five teen residents of a Houston Housing Authority complex to design and build new play spaces for all ages in apartment complexes originally meant for young professionals.

Schneider was 2017 Fellow at the University of Houston’s Center for Art and Social Engagement (CASE) and Project Row Houses, where she examined the idea of Survival Creativity – amending the adage that the greatest creativity comes from the most dire circumstances to consider the support that allows silence to break.

Her work has been featured by the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Project Row Houses, Diverseworks, Alabama Song, Labotanica, and many places outside of arts institutions. She has organized and hosted many public conversations including the Art of Equity panel for the Rothko Chapel’s Confronting Inequality Symposium, and dialogues between artists and experts in a range of other disciplines for the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts. Her visual work and writing have been featured in Gulf CoastTemporary Art Review, and Cite Magazine.

She earned her BFA in Fine Arts and Culture and Politics from Maryland Institute College of Art and has engaged in a self-constructed MFA program by auditing courses at local universities.

Darryl Ratcliff and Rick Lowe

Thursday, January 25, 2018, 7 PM
Preceded by a reception at 6:30 PM

Rick Lowe
Artist and Founder
Project Row Houses

Rick Lowe is an artist whose unconventional approach to community revitalization has transformed a long-neglected neighborhood in Houston into a visionary public art project that continues to evolve, two decades since its inception. Originally trained as a painter, Lowe shifted the focus of his artistic practice in the early 1990s in order to address more directly the pressing social, economic, and cultural needs of his community. With a group of fellow artists, he organized the purchase and restoration of a block and a half of derelict properties—twenty-two shotgun houses from the 1930s—in Houston’s predominantly African American Third Ward and turned them into Project Row Houses (PRH), an unusual amalgam of arts venue and community support center.

Darryl Ratcliff
Social Practice Artist, Cultural Organizer, Curator, Writer, and Poet
Ash Studios

Darryl Ratcliff is a social practice artist based in Dallas, TX. In 2012, Ratcliff cofounded Ash Studios with artist Fred Villanueva, a 20,000 square foot DIY arts center serving communities of color in Dallas. In 2013, Ratcliff became the inaugural artist-in-residence for Rick Lowe’s Trans.lation Vickery Meadow initiated by the Nasher Sculpture Center. In 2014, Ratcliff initiated Creating Our Future, an art project that focuses on creativity and civic engagement and registered over a hundred millenials to vote for the 2015 city council elections.  In 2016, COF successfully advocated for $225,000 in cultural equity grants from the City of Dallas. Currently Ratcliff is working with his art collective, Michelada Think Tank, to create pathways for creatives of color from high school to retirement in the City of Dallas. Ratcliff is also a recent recipient of artist awards from the Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, and Office of Cultural Affairs.

2017 | Intersections: Art, Science, and Technology

The 2017 lecture series featured speakers on the topic of the intersection of art, science, and technology. 

Adela Andea and Pablo Gimenez-Zapiola

Thursday, May 25, 2017 | 6:30PM
In the Peaches Kempner Studio Classroom

Adela Andea
Within the medium of light

Simultaneously inspired by the beauty found in nature and the contrasting aesthetic she finds in technology, Adela Andea’s large-scale light installations explore the concept of natural versus artificial and seek to re-examine the notion of separating the two. In her presentation, Andea will address the influence of these concepts on her work and the use of light as an artistic medium within the new media discipline.


Pablo Gimenez-Zapiola
My Way Of Seeing + Merging The Analog With The Digital

Pablo Gimenez-Zapiola employs photography, video, projections, text and computers in his multi-disciplinary work. In recent multi-projection performances, he combined analog thinking with digital tools to transform the viewers’ relationship with time and space. Gimenez-Zapiola will discuss his work, and how art can enhance life experiences and establish a unique dialogue with each viewer.


Support for GAC comes from: The Brown Foundation, The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, Fondren Foundation, The Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund, Houston Endowment, The Marlene Nathan Meyerson Family Foundation, The Robert W. and Pearl Wallis Knox Foundation, Save America’s Treasures, The Moody Foundation, The Susan Vaugn Foundation, The John P. McGovern Foundation, The Albert and Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation, The Texas Historical Commission, and numerous individuals