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World-renowned, interdisciplinary artists are invited to visit the University of Houston main campus to engage with students, faculty, staff and the general public. The Mitchell Center offers various opportunities to engage with these dynamic artists who cross disciplines, support artistic experimentation, foster collaboration and inspire experimental thinking and creativity. Artist visits vary in length and type and are determined by the artist’s project.

2022-23 Season

A smiling white-skinned man wearing a white hat and dark outfit standing amid lush greenery with a wall of trees behind him.

Alan Sonfist

Beginning with his first major commissioned work, "Time Landscapes" in Greenwich Village, NYC, Sonfist received critical acclaim for his innovative use of urban spaces to design havens of nature. His early work in the 1960s and 1970s helped pioneer the burgeoning movement of site-specific sculpture. Today, he continues to promote sustainable energy and strives to raise awareness for global climate change with his international projects. Recently, Sonfist collaborated with city planners in Pori, Finland and Tampa, Florida to create public spaces that visualize natural landscapes from the past. 
Sonfist has received major awards and grants from private and governmental organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Graham Foundation for Art and Architecture, the Chase Manhattan Bank Foundation, and the U.S. Information Agency. Sonfist's works are included in many international public collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the Whitney, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Villa Celle, in Tuscany, Italy, the Today Art Museum in Beijing, and the Museum Ludwig in Koln, Germany. >

A smiling, brown-skinned woman with short black hair wearing a multicolored T-shirt stands in front of a purple wall beside an oversized spiraling green tower.

Monira Al Qadiri

Monira Al Qadiri (b. 1983) is a Kuwaiti visual artist born in Senegal. In 2010, she received a Ph.D. in intermedia art from Toyko University of the Arts, where her research was focused on the aesthetics of sadness in the Middle East—stemming from histories of poetry, music, art, and religious practices in the region. Al Qadiri’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (2022); Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2020); Gasworks, London, UK (2017); Stroom Den Haag, the Hague, the Netherlands (2017); and the Kunstverein Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany (2019); among others. She has been featured in group exhibitions at venues that include the Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China (2021); Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2020); MoMA PS1, New York, New York (2019); the Pinchuk Art Center, Kiev, Ukraine (2019); the 6th Athens Biennial (2018); the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial (2018); and the Jameel Arts Center, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (2018); among many others. Her films and videos have also been screened in Ireland, Germany, South Korea, Romania, Egypt, Qatar, Norway, and many more nations across the globe. In 2022, Al Qadiri will be featured in the Venice Biennale’s central exhibition, The Milk of Dreams. >

A close-up of a smiling, white-skinned man with short white hair wearing a dark collared shirt against a dark background.

Steve Rowell

Steve Rowells work has been exhibited internationally at a range of galleries and museums, including MoMA PS1, LACMA, the MCA in Chicago, the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston, and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. The themes he has engaged with in his work include dark money, invisible infrastructure, speculative futures, geologic time, nonhuman intelligence, orbital omniscience, extraction, and extinction. From 2001 to 2013, Rowell collaborated with the Los Angeles-based Center for Land Use Interpretation on projects covering a spectrum of conceptual terrains. He is Creative Capital and Graham Foundation grantee. In 2019, Rowell became a Guggenheim Fellow and in 2022 he will be a resident at the MacDowell. He holds a B.A. from the University of Texas and an M.F.A. from Oxford University. >

A black and white close-up of a smiling, light-skinned woman with dark hair wearing a dark jacket and headphones hanging around her neck. A desert-like landscape behind her.

Tania Candiani

Tania Candiani was born in Mexico City in 1974 and currently lives and works there. She has worked in various media and practices, maintaining her interest in the complex intersection between phonetics, graphics, linguistics, the symbolic and the technological. She has employed different narratives of association, rearranging, remixing and playing with correspondences between technology, knowledge and thought. Thus, Candiani uses the idea of organization and reorganization as discourse and critical thinking and empirical research as material for production. The translation between diverse systems of representation is key in the materialization of her works. She creates interdisciplinary working groups in various fields, consolidating intersections between art, design, literature, music, architecture and science, with an emphasis on the recovery of early technologies and their history in the production of knowledge. Her projects are related to crafts, work, tradition, sound, synesthesia, rhythm and translation. >

A black-skinned man with a mustache, sitting, leaning forward in a tan leather chair, wearing a beanie and blue collared shirt in an interior space with large plant leaves in the background.

Preston Gaines

Preston A. Gaines (b. 1990), is a Houston-based artist, architect, and biophilic/industrial designer who manifests the hidden properties of nature through the use of technology, with the intention of learning and re-establishing our connection to the Earth. His immersive botanical installations and furniture designs raise questions about our collective experience and imagine radical possibilities for the future of art and design. Gaines' premise is that any built environment can have a physiological effect on the viewer inhabiting the space; his intent is to go beyond this premise to a psychological level. Gaines started Inanimate Nature as a multi-disciplinary design collective, investigating the use of technology to re-establish our connection to the Earth and nature through design, an approach epitomized in Gaines’ work with Project Row Houses in Houston's historic Third Ward.

Gaines has had his work shown in museum exhibitions at venus such as the Contemporary Art Museum Houston (CAMH) in 2021 and, most recently, in The ION District in Houston, which is a joint initiative between Rice University and the City of Houston. He has an upcoming solo exhibition opening October 7th, 2022 at the Barbara Davis Gallery in Houston. Gaines received his B.S. in Architecture in 2013 and his M.S. in Architecture from Prairie View A&M in 2020. He is a recipient of the prestigious Houston Arts Alliance Grant.

@inanimatenature >

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Jeanette Andrews

Jeanette Andrews (b. 1990) is a New York City-based artist, magician, and researcher. Andrews’s work focuses on the development of interactive magic and sensory illusions via performance, sculpture, installation and audio. Originally hailing from Chicago, over 27 years of specialized study and technical training in parlor and sleight-of-hand magic has now afforded her a distinct perspective on crafting experiences with nuanced, surreal visuals and on designing objects that function completely differently than they appear. Andrews works closely with museums and galleries to recontextualize magic within the cultural arts and explore this craft as a performance art medium. She has presented commissioned and site-specific works with the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Elmhurst Art Museum, Birmingham Museum of Art, and International Museum of Surgical Science. She has held residencies at CultureLab LIC in New York City, High Concept Labs in Chicago and The Institute for Art and Olfaction in Los Angeles. She is an Affiliate of metaLAB (at) Harvard. Illusion is Andrews’s life’s work and her performances have been praised by the Chicago Tribune, PBS, and the New York Times. >

A black and white headshot shows a light-skinned white man looks pensively off camera with hand resting on face

Robert Wilson

Described by The New York Times as “a towering figure in the world of experimental theatre,” Robert Wilson’s (b. 1941) influential body of work employs a diverse range of media including dance, movement, lighting, sculpture, music and text, earning widespread acclaim from audiences and critics around the world. A native Texan, Wilson was born in Waco and attended the University of Texas before pursuing art and architecture at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. In addition to his academic education Wilson apprenticed with painter George McNeil in Paris and in Arizona with architect Paolo Solari. After obtaining his degrees, he founded The Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds in New York City where he worked and performed with fellow artists and directed his first major productions, The King of Spain (Anderson Theater, 1969) and The Life and Times of Sigmund Freud (Brooklyn Academy of Music, 1969). In 1976 Wilson collaborated with composer Philip Glass to write and direct the landmark opera, Einstein on the Beach, after which Wilson increasingly worked with European theater and opera houses.

Among his many creative partners are artists, writers and musicians such as Heiner Müller, Tom Waits, Susan Sontag, Laurie Anderson, William Burroughs, Lady Gaga, Lou Reed, Jessye Norman and Anna Calvi. Wilson’s reputation for innovating highly acclaimed theatrical products is rooted in his fine art practice. His drawings, paintings and sculptures are frequently presented internationally in both solo and group showings and are held in private and public collections worldwide. Major exhibitions include the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (1991); the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (1991); and the Instituto de Valencia de Arte Moderno (1992). Recent exhibitions in 2022 include Museum and Contemporary Design and Applied Arts in Lausanne Switzerland, MDFG in Brooklyn, NY and the Art Gallery of South Australia. Since the early 1990s, Wilson has hosted workshops for students and creative professionals at The Watermill Center, an interdisciplinary laboratory for the Arts in Water Mill, New York of which he is the founder and Artistic Director. He is the recipient of two Rockefeller and two Guggenheim fellowships and has been honored with numerous nominations, appointments, and lifetime achievement awards. In 1997, April 18th was declared “Robert Wilson Day” by the legislature in the State of Texas. >
A light skined white man with red hair and a red beard is smiling at the camera and gesturing with one hand. He wears glasses and a red baseball style cap with the University of Houston logo on it

Mike Durkin

mike durkin is a large-bodied multidisciplinary social practice performance artist residing in Philadelphia and New York City. mike (lowercase to de-center himself for the process) is guided by the intersection between art and the everyday. He has created site-responsive social practice productions exploring houselessness, food access, place, and gentrification. Upcoming projects will be held at the University of Houston, Louisiana State University, and Michigan State University. mike’s work has been presented at the Mural Arts Philadelphia, Brandywine River Museum, Barnes Foundation, Mt. Moriah Cemetery, the Life Do Grow Farm, and in parks, churches, and fields, diners, virtually, and most recently with The Performance Studies program at Texas A&M University and with the College of Arts, Humanities, and Sciences at the University of Central Arkansas. mike has held residencies with Revolve Art Gallery in Asheville, NC, Space at Ryder Farm, Drop Forge and Tool, the Hambidge Arts Center in Rabun Gap, GA, and the Greenhouse Lab with The Orchard Project. mike is part of the 2017 MFA in Devised Performance class with Pig Iron Theatre Company/University of the Arts. >