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Fall 2020 Speaker Series

The University of Houston School of Art is proud to announce its Fall 2020 visiting speaker series, featuring practitioners and thinkers at the forefront of contemporary art, criticism and design. Distinguished guests offer a diverse range of perspectives on the most pertinent issues facing today’s makers and scholars. The series is a key component of students’ experience at the School of Art. In addition to presenting their work to a large audience of students and community members, speakers spend extended periods engaging directly with students in small gatherings for focused debate and conversation, in formats tailored to their individual practice. Past engagements have included hands-on workshops, masterclasses, studio visits, demonstrations and interactive performances. Recent guests include Charlene Villaseñor Black, Beverly Fishman, Coco Fusco, Jeffrey Gibson, David Rokeby, RaMell Ross, Richard The and Margaret Wertheim. 

This Fall, our series goes online, broadcasting via Zoom, YouTube Live and Facebook Live. All lectures are free and open to the public. 

  • Aruna D'Souza

    Aruna D'Souza

    Aruna D'Souza by Dana Hoey

    September 17, 7–9 p.m., CT

    Join Aruna D'Souza




    Aruna D'Souza is a curator and arts critic who writes about modern and contemporary art; intersectional feminisms and other forms of politics. Her most recent book, Whitewalling: Art, Race, and Protest in 3 Acts, was named one of the best art books of 2018 by the New York Times. She is currently editing two forthcoming volumes, Making It Modern: A Linda Nochlin Reader, and Lorraine O’Grady: Writing in Space 1973-2018, and is co-curator of the upcoming retrospective of Lorraine O’Grady’s work, Both/And, which will open in March 2021 at the Brooklyn Museum. 

  • De Nichols

    De Nichols

    De Nichols by Lindy Drew

    September 24, 7–9 p.m., CT

    De Nichols is a design activist, social worker and global lecturer who mobilizes creative changemakers to address issues within the built environment through the production of interactive experiences, digital media and social initiatives. She serves as the Principal of Design and Social Impact at the Civic Creatives consultancy in St. Louis, MO. She is a Transnational Fellow with Monument Lab and the Goethe Institut, a Citizen Artist Fellow of the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and a 2018 Artist Fellow with the Regional Arts Commision in St. Louis, MO. De Nichols is currently a Loeb Fellow in residence at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. 

  • Nicholas Galanin

    Nicholas Galanin

    Nicholas Galanin by Will Wilson

    October 15, 4–6 p.m., CT

    Nicholas Galanin’s (Tlingit/Unangax) work offers perspective rooted in connection to land and broad engagement with contemporary culture. For over a decade, Galanin has been embedding incisive observation into his work, investigating and expanding intersections of culture and concept in form, image and sound. His practice is expansive and includes numerous collaborations with visual and recording artists. His work is in numerous public and private collections and exhibited worldwide. Galanin apprenticed with master carvers and jewelers, earned his BFA at London Guildhall University in Jewelry Design and his MFA in Indigenous Visual Arts at Massey University in New Zealand. He lives and works with his family in Sitka, Alaska. 

  • Derrick Adams

    Derrick Adams by Christopher Garcia Valle

    October 22, 7–9 p.m., CT

    Derrick Adams was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1970. He received his MFA from Columbia University and BFA from Pratt Institute. Adams has been the subject of numerous solo shows, including ​exhibitions at the Museum of Arts and Design, NY, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, the California African American Museum, LA, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Adams’ work has been presented in public exhibitions, including ​Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth. (2019) by the Smithsonian Institution​; ​PERFORMA​ (2015, 2013, 2005); ​The Shadows Took Shape (2014) and ​Radical Presence (2013–14) at The Studio Museum in Harlem. His work resides in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. 

Spring 2020 Speaker Series

  • Margaret Wertheim, Coral Forest

    Margaret Wertheim

    Coral Forest, at Lehigh University Art Galleries (2019). Photo © Institute for Figuring

    January 30, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
    Dudley Recital Hall
    Fine Arts Building, Room 132

    Reception, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
    Dudley Recital Hall

    Margaret Wertheim is an internationally noted writer, artist and curator whose work focuses on relations between science and the wider cultural landscape. Her work is animated by a two-fold proposition: that science is both a field of conceptual enchantment, and a socially embedded activity with political and communal consequences. The author of six books, including The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace and Physics on the Fringe, she has written for The New York TimesThe GuardianCabinetAeon and many others. Margaret and her twin sister Christine are founders of the Institute For Figuring, a Los Angeles-based practice devoted to the aesthetic dimensions of science and mathematics – The sisters have created exhibitions for the Hayward Gallery (London), Science Gallery (Dublin), Mass MOCA (MA), Museum of Jurassic Technology (Los Angeles), and elsewhere. Their Crochet Coral Reef project has been shown nationally and internationally including at the Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh), Museum of Arts and Design (New York), Deutsches Museum (Munich), the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (Washington D.C.), and the 2019 Venice Biennale. Margaret has worked professionally on all seven continents and stood on the South Pole.

  • RaMell Ross,

    RaMell Ross

    Science Class from Hale County This Morning, This Evening.
    © IDIOM Film, Courtesy RaMell Ross & Cinema Guild

    February 20, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
    Dudley Recital Hall
    Fine Arts Building, Room 132

    Reception, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
    Dudley Recital Hall

    RaMell Ross earned a BA in both English and Sociology from Georgetown University and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. His photographs have been exhibited internationally and his writing has appeared in such outlets as The New York Times and Walker Arts Center. He was part of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2015, and a New Frontier Artist in Residence at the MIT Media Lab. In 2016, he was a finalist for the Aperture Portfolio Prize, winner of an Aaron Siskind Individual Photographer’s Fellowship Grant and a Sundance Art of Nonfiction Fellow. In early 2017, he was selected for Rhode Island Foundation’s Robert and Margaret Maccoll Johnson Artist Fellowship. RaMell is currently on faculty at Brown University’s Visual Arts Department. Hale County This Morning, This Evening is his first feature documentary.

  • David Rokeby, Hand-held

    David Rokeby

    Hand-held, 2012. Produced at Le Fresnoy Studio National des Arts contemporains

    February 27, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
    Fine Arts Building, Room TBA

    Reception, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

    David Rokeby's early work Very Nervous System (1982-1991) was a pioneering work of interactive art, translating physical gestures into real-time interactive sound environments. It was presented at the Venice Biennale in 1986, and was awarded a Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction for Interactive Art in 1991.

    Several of his works have addressed issues of digital surveillance, including Taken (2002), and Sorting Daemon (2003). Other works engage in a critical examination of the differences between human and artificial intelligence. The Giver of Names (1991-) and n-cha(n)t (2001) are artificial subjective entities, provoked by objects or spoken words in their immediate environment to formulate sentences and speak them aloud.

     He has exhibited and lectured extensively in the Americas, Europe and Asia. His awards include a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (2002), a Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica for Interactive Art (2002), and a British Academy of Film and Television Arts “BAFTA” award in Interactive art (2000).

    He is the Director of the BMO Lab for Creative Research in the Arts, Performance, Emerging Technologies and AI at the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto.

Fall 2019 Speaker Series

  • Charlene VillaseƱor Black

    Charlene VillaseƱor Black

    Alma Lopez, “La Peor,” 2013

    September 25, 6:30 p.m.
    Dudley Recital Hall
    Fine Arts building, Room 132

    Reception, 5:30 p.m.
    Blaffer Art Museum Café

    Charlene Villasenor Black is professor of art history and Chicana/o studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where her research and teaching focus on the art of the early modern Iberian world and contemporary Chicana/o/x art. In 2016, she was awarded UCLA’s 2016 Gold Shield Faculty Prize for Academic Excellence. She has held grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), ACLS, Fulbright, Mellon, Woodrow Wilson and Getty foundations. She also serves as associate director of UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center, where she edits Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies. She also founded and edits Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture (UC Press) with associate editor Emily Engel, the first academic journal in these fields. Currently, she is one of four PIs of the $1.03 million grant “Critical Mission Studies at California’s Crossroads,” funded by the University of California Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives for 2019–2021. Her upbringing as a working class, Catholic Chicana from Arizona forged her identity as a border-crossing art historian and inspirational teacher. The topics of her publications range from the early modern Spanish empire to contemporary Chicanx art.


  • Richard The, Bodies in Motion

    Richard The

    “Bodies in Motion,” Collaboration with Todd Bracher for Humanscale, Milan 2019; 16 moving lights, depth camera, computer, custom software; 20m x 12m x 5m

    October 10, 6:30 p.m.
    Dudley Recital Hall
    Fine Arts building, Room 132

    Reception, 5 p.m.
    Dudley Recital Hall

    Richard The is a designer, artist and educator. His work, ranging from graphic design to installations to user interfaces, investigates the aesthetic and cultural implications of an increasingly technology-driven society. After having studied at University of the Arts Berlin and the MIT Media Lab he has worked at Sagmeister Inc., led a design group at the Google Creative Lab and is co-founder of the transdisciplinary design studio TheGreenEyl. He is an assistant professor of art media and technology at Parsons School of Design. His work has been recognized by international design institutions such as D&AD, Art Directors Club New York, AIGA, Communication Arts, Type Director’s Club Tokyo and Ars Electronica, Linz and he has taught at NYU ITP, School of Visual Arts and MIT School of Architecture.


  • Beverly Fishman, Untitled (Split Pill/Alcoholism)

    Beverly Fishman

    “Untitled (Split Pill/Alcoholism),” Serigraph print, 24 x 30 inches, Edition of 50

    October 17, 6:30 p.m.
    Dudley Recital Hall
    Fine Arts Building, Room 132

    Reception, 5:30 p.m.
    Dudley Recital Hall

    Beverly Fishman is an internationally recognized painter and sculptor who adopts the language of abstraction to explore the body, issues of identity and contemporary culture. For more than three decades, she has used imagery drawn from science, medicine and the pharmaceutical industry to promote inquiry into the effects of these institutions on both individuals and societies.

    She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Philadelphia College of Art, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Yale University. For 25 years she was the head of the painting department at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and she has held positions at Maryland Institute College of Art and the College of New Rochelle, Graduate Art School. Fishman has been the recipient of many awards, including a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship; a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award; an Artist Space Exhibition Grant; an NEA Fellowship Grant; and an Anonymous Was A Woman Award. Her work is included in many public and private collections around the world.