Meet the Fellows - University of Houston
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Meet the 2019 Fellows

The Center for Art & Social Engagement at the University of Houston’s Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts and Project Row Houses are pleased to announce the artists participating in the 2019 KGMCA-PRH Fellowship: Texas-based Libby Bland and California-based Sarah Rafael García.

Libby Bland

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Libby Bland is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania where she earned master’s degrees in architecture and city and regional planning. Her undergraduate degree is from Sarah Lawrence College where she studied narratives of place, children’s literature and costuming. She was born and raised in Southeastern Virginia in the shadow of The Great Dismal Swamp. Her background is in oral history, arts-based community design and the history of self-planned Black communities throughout the rural South. Previously, she worked with the Community Futures Lab in Philadelphia, an oral history and arts project around gentrification in a neighborhood after public housing towers had been demolished. She also worked for the Village of Arts and Humanities, focusing on economic development and housing stability for long-time residents in North Philadelphia. She currently works full time at Texas Housers as a neighborhood and housing equity planner and analyst.

The through line of Bland’s work is trying to understand the narratives that Black people tell (and omit) about our experiences, and figuring out clear and compelling ways to connect us across the stories and lessons that have been lost to time and trauma.

Sarah Rafael GarcĂ­a

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Sarah Rafael García is a writer, traveler and arts educator. Born in Brownsville, Texas and raised in Santa Ana, California, she considers herself “a first-generation everything,” including being an artist. Since publishing “Las Niñas” (Floricanto Press 2008), she founded Barrio Writers, LibroMobile and Crear Studio. In 2015, she completed an M.F.A. in creative writing with an emphasis in fiction and cognate in media studies. She is an editor for the “Barrio Writers, pariahs: writing from outside the margins and Latinx Archive” anthologies. In 2016, García was awarded to develop the multi-media project titled “SanTana’s Fairy Tales” (Raspa Magazine 2017), supported in part by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, through an artist-in-residence initiative at California State University, Fullerton’s Grand Central Art Center. In 2018, she held an artist residency at The Guesthouse in Cork, Ireland and was honored as an emerging artist at the 19th Annual Orange County Arts Awards. In March 2019, she will exhibit her first installation as a conceptual artist: “A Book’s Journey,” a collaborative recycled book project. 

As a writer and conceptual artist, García offers historical counter-narratives for her gender and culture, while integrating contemporary social justice themes and creative narrative structures of people of color without the constraints imposed by society or traditional storytelling. For the KGMCA-PRH Fellowship, she is interested in expanding her ethnographic work by researching and incorporating Houston’s Third Ward history along with its social justice and gentrification issues and further develop a multi-media, literary-arts platform. 

Learn more at https://sarahrafaelgarcia.com/.