DRAWING inspiration from recent social justice movements and local activists and artists fighting for cultural solidarity within the Palestinian movement, one of Houston’s latest art exhibitions explores the meaning behind cross-cultural solidarity.
Known for mounting timely and socially engaged exhibitions, the Station Museum of Contemporary Art welcomed, In The Sun organized in collaboration with the Collective Artists in Solidarity with Palestine (CASP) and Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM).
The organizers say the exhibition and symposium is a response to the Holocaust Museum Houston’s (HMH) alleged lack of solidarity and acknowledgment of the struggle for Palestinians. In May 2021, after the HMH posted a message denouncing anti-Semitic violence on Instagram, some artists involved in the museum’s upcoming Latinx art exhibition pulled out, citing the museum’s refusal to acknowledge violence against Palestinians at the same time. Those six artists formed CASP “to create space between interconnected struggles,” they say.
[Editor’s note: Representatives of the Holocaust Museum Houston reached out to Houstonia to dispute the account given in a linked blog post about CASP’s formation as inflammatory. We have invited them to provide an official response and, in the meantime, removed the link.]
Inspired by celestial mythology and the idea that the sun is the central guiding force for ancestral connection, the exhibition was made up of a constellation of local artists and orbited around themes of resistance, freedom and kinship.
“We believe this exhibition demonstrates that cultural production can serve as a space for continuing resistance and community building,” CASP tells Houstonia. “Through various forms of art-making, we can engage, organize, mobilize and empower our communities in service of liberation.”
The featured work ranged from videos, manipulated photographs, screenprints, sculptures, and family photographs. Artists Leticia Contreras and Jessica Gonzalez explore their family history through quilts and video work. Gonzalez also featured her book full of collages, Es Una Lucha, which featured family archive photos and documentation that represented the legal battle she went through for her mother’s residency.
Lina Habazi expressed her own internal struggles through the use of manipulated photographs. After finding out the truth behind the Palestinian images she once loved, she decided to manipulate them through scanning and silk screening them into prints. Moe Pender’s work used objects and images near and dear to them, exploring the battles they faced as a child growing up in a world of war and loss in El Salvador. Brenda Franco also took to photography, as she told the stories of the communities in Houston that are safe for migrants trying to create opportunities for themselves.
Texas-born artist Kill Joy emphasized the importance of art and community, saying “Art is one of the most powerful tools for organizing.” In the Sun offers keen insight into the way art mobilizes and motivates us to look beneath the surface and to continue fighting for a better world.
In the Sun was on view from October 8-17. For future exhibitions, visit the Station Museum of Contemporary Art’s website.