|JOURNEY|





Sisters: A Breakdown of Monolith [A Message From The Future] and Souls of Black Folk from the exhibition Black [Between The Lines]

Souls of Black Folks, 2022

Monolith [A Message From The Future], 2021

Souls of Black Folk speaks to the past and future of Black expression, experience, and people by highlighting the personal path and ancestral inheritance of Black Americans. This is illustrated by utilizing a black monolithic pedestal with a receded surface layer bearing a window into the sculpture. The sculpture’s insides contain suspended sheets of acrylic being navigated by a single golden thread: an investigation of the unseeable and at times unknowable obstacles faced while living in Black bodies.

A network of strings representative of an ancestral plain where those who have paved paths for Black Americans to navigate reside. Each individual lot, containing a tree, diamond and person, is symbolic of those pioneers whose names have traversed time and space, arriving in context with their actions, deeds and accomplishments in a future present tense. The hearts suspended throughout the network devoid of a lot of land, or individuals to rest within them are symbolic of those that have contributed to our collective progression without being granted equal or proportionate merit. Their names and accomplishments, respectively, move through time attached to the larger conversation disconnected, separated, disembodied.

If Souls of Black Folk exists to present Black people as having a rich and colorful ancestral heritage not always placed within its proper or full context, Monolith [A Message From The Future] illustrates a future where their respective narratives arrive properly contextualized. A cubed metal frame fashioned with lights, illuminating the path of a singular narrative, rests atop a recessed pedestal. Within its recessed base llie the decommissioned and damaged glass ceilings, obstructions and obstacles of a collective past. Deactivated though they may be, their lessons echo and arrive into a new future.

Unlike Souls, the path depicted does not engage the obstructions, which suggests a collective ancestral history has passed through time in its full and proper context, offering a sense of self and communal preservation.



[Un]abridged, 2022

I wanted to make a short film that would speak to my mental state during a difficult time in my life. I made three attempts at creating an artistic expression that could elaborate on those moments. The three attempts, separately, did not fully encompass how I felt. However, together they felt as though I had been able to say all that could be said about that period.igger Warning:
Issues discussed during this film may be trying for some individuals.



SURVIVAL MOMENTS
Saturday, March 5 | 8pm
Aurora Picture Show
Free Admission
Survival Movements is a creative project led by Ceci Norman that addresses trauma and coping through open dialogue and creative art making. This culminating event of the project features an hour-long screening of new short films created by Houston artists Julia Barbosa Landois, Marcelese Cooper, Julie De Vries, Ronald L. Jones, Matt Manalo, and Ceci Norman, with editing by Vinny Capurso.

A cocktail reception will follow the screening, with participating artists in attendance and a mobile animation station for creative play.




Art League Houston February 2022 Artist Talks

Brian Ellison, Bradley Kerl, Kathy Drago, and Ronald Llewellyn Jones discuss their respective exhibitions and installations.
For more information about the exhibitions and the artists, visit their pages on our website below!

  • Brian Ellison, "Backbone", Main Gallery

  • Bradley Kerl, "In & Out", Front Gallery

  • Kathy Drago, "Late", Hallway Gallery






Q&A Session with Orange Show Curator of Programs Pete Gershon and Ronald L. Jones

I had the pleasure of speaking with my friend Pete Gershon about Black [Between the Lines] my first solo gallery exhibition, currently showing at Hooks-Epstein Galleries.
About Pete Gershon
Pete Gershon is the Curator of Programs at the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art. From 2013 to 2021, he was the Program Coordinator for the Glassell School of Art's Core Residency Program. Gershon is the author of 2014's Painting the Town Orange: Houston's Visionary Art Environments and 2018's Collision: The Contemporary Art Scene in Houston, 1972-1985. Gershon is also the editor for the upcoming Impractical Spaces: Houston is Here. Impractical Spaces: Houston is part of a project to document artists spaces in all 50 states.

About Black [Between the Lines]
Black [Between the Lines] is an exhibition of sculptural pieces that serves to emphasize the framework of institutional spaces and the social implications of the lived experience within these structures. The works featured illustrate the systemic constructs that have moved through time, further polarizing and hindering lasting progress for the African-American community.

Black [Between the Lines] is on view at Hooks-Epstein Galleries through March 5, 2022.



I was recently featured in Houston CityBook

An excerpt:

“ Jones is a self-taught multidisciplinary artist, known for his site-specific sculptures — works he installs “guerrilla” style in outdoor locations, as well as in traditional galleries and museums. Using of long strands of string secured to the ceiling, walls and floors of the gallery, Jones challenges the viewer to navigate areas of inaccessibility, and consider how societal constructs can quite literally impede freedom of movement, and communication across class, ethnicity and gender. “



Install

Open House
𝘽𝙡𝙖𝙘𝙠 [𝘽𝙚𝙩𝙬𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙇𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙨]
January 29 - March 5, 2022
Hooks-Epstein Galleries

About The Exhibition:
Within his artistic practice, Ronald L. Jones investigates the barriers between creatives and audiences by encouraging viewers to examine their environment through the lens of complex, existing societal constructs. Often unseen is a broader system of oppression and omission that effectively marginalizes African-Americans in institutions throughout the United States.

𝘽𝙡𝙖𝙘𝙠 [𝘽𝙚𝙩𝙬𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙇𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙨] is an exhibition of sculptural pieces that serves to emphasize the framework of institutional spaces and the social implications of the lived experience within these structures. The works featured illustrate the systemic constructs that have moved through time, further polarizing and hindering lasting progress for the African-American community.


Affirmations, 2022

I thought about how my trauma triggers all come from someplace and that even though I may be working on myself, they are still very actively influencing some of my actions.

I like to think that by writing out the growth that I can currently perceive I am allowing myself an opportunity to create a placeholder.





RONALD L. JONES
𝘽𝙡𝙖𝙘𝙠 [𝘽𝙚𝙩𝙬𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙇𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙨]
Hooks-Epstein Galleries
Saturday, January 29 - March 5, 2022

OPEN HOUSE
11:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

*MASKS ARE REQUIRED*
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION:
Within his artistic practice, Ronald L. Jones investigates the barriers between creatives and audiences by encouraging viewers to examine their environment through the lens of complex, existing societal constructs. Often unseen is a broader system of oppression and omission that effectively marginalizes African-Americans in institutions throughout the United States.

𝘽𝙡𝙖𝙘𝙠 [𝘽𝙚𝙩𝙬𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙇𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙨] is an exhibition of sculptural pieces that serves to emphasize the framework of institutional spaces and the social implications of the lived experience within these structures. The works featured illustrate the systemic constructs that have moved through time, further polarizing and hindering lasting progress for the African-American community.



About Marcus, Jeff and Digital Art






A Backstory: Half of A Golden Ticket

Growing up, my favorite movie was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. My family never owned a copy of the film, but then again, we never needed to own one. TNT, TBS, and so many other networks would play the film at least four times a year, sometimes back-to-back.

I loved the film for several reasons. I identified with Charlie, not because I grew up in a household where my mom took care of my grandparents, but because he had an idea of what he wanted. He saw the possibility of arriving at a place where he could alleviate the stresses experienced in his lifetime to pull his entire family out of an economic downturn.

It could be that he never once thought he would arrive in that space, but only wanted to experience something new, different, highly sought after...something to look forward to, to get you out of the bed for, a thing to strive to achieve even if it was simply finding a once in a lifetime opportunity inside a candy wrapper.

Fast forward to now: 2022. I have arrived in a place where things I hoped for are closer than they were ever in my life. I didn't find a golden ticket in a candy bar, but I did eat a lot of candy while I shot the photos, videos and created the artwork that has led me to you: my audience.

The images above are for two screen prints that I had a desire to create in 2019. Like most of the artwork I have created, there is a story attached to these pieces. A story of a friendship.

The dollar bill depicted is one that I have kept in my wallet for nearly eight years. The other half is in the wallet of my friend Matt Casas. At a time when our friendship was budding, I was often annoyed with him. I grew frustrated with him often over surface level occurrences.

I caught myself on one of these occasions and decided that I needed to do something, to introduce a new dynamic into our relationship. I knew Matt was a good person, I just created a minefield around him that would allow me to push him away without investigating who he was, or what he was about.

We sat around a fire in the front yard of the home he, his partner and their daughter resided in, near MacGregor Park. I pulled a dollar from my pocket. It was likely the only dollar I had at the time. I asked if he would carry one half of the bill in his wallet and I would do the same. After ripping the dollar and placing my half within my wallet, I felt a weight leave me.
Since that moment, I believe I have become more open and the firewalls we once navigated no longer serve as barriers in our friendship.

I was once very interested in stencil making, but soon grew out of the idea of cutting several small holes with an exacto knife. The tedious nature of the enterprise lost its appeal once I realized the path that lay ahead of me, the layering of multiple stencils, lining them up to get the perfect print; all that did not really appeal to me. I became interested in the idea of creating screen prints, but did not have very much source material, or so I thought.

I went through all the saved images, all the photos and digital artworks that I created, just to see if there was a thing I had in my library that could be easily converted into a print.

Maybe a month prior to this experience I started to go through my box of keepsakes, scanning them to make sure that the memory of the experiences that led to them being in my possession were documented in some form or fashion. Within the series of documentation, the dollar existed.

I decided I would attempt to create a print with a bill. The prints featured are proof of my ability to manifest that possibility.

I have been printing the same bill for two years now, with several iterations including some mixed media artworks. I like to think of the prints as a way to push our friendship into the future. Moreover, I like to think about the conversations and interactions I have had the pleasure of partaking in due to its existence. That I could, with the simple act of tearing a dollar bill in half, salvage a friendship I was once consciously, or subconsciously attempting to cut short.

I think having a newsletter gives me the opportunity to share this type of information about my artwork, my process, my relationships with my peers and community, as well as offering insight into who I am.

My plan, however, still requires the sale of these artworks. Although, I would hope that they would not be seen as just products or materials, but as pieces of myself, my story, the story of my family, my peers and community.

These 12 x 10.25 in. prints on golden reflective poster paper are
$15 each and the colorways are issued in editions of six.




Seasonal Survival Movements
by Survival Movements
Tue, December 28, 2021 | 7PM–9PM CST
A gathering to watch a couple of films made by Houston artists, make some animations and reflect on the year we've had and the year ahead.

About this event

Survival Movements is a creative project addressing trauma through open dialogue and stop-motion animation, creating conversation and space in a way that explores experiences through art making.





I was invited to submit a film for University of Houston Clear Lake’s Sustainable Stories Film Festival. If there were not awesome enough, I was also awarded 2nd for my documentary Again, Together - The Cumulative Impact of Environmental Racism in Houston.



[Continuum] is a short narrative entailing a personal journey in search of peace of mind in a time of compounded trauma while examining past experiences in search of answers for present and future contexts.

[Continuum] will be self published in collaboration with Houston Museum of African American Culture early 2022.



A Spark [That Spirals Out]
Orange Show
Spring 2022

An immersive site specific sculptural work that utilizes LED lights to simulate a nexus point from which a network of sparks are projected out into open space. This sculpture is representative of the power of exposure and the necessity for more creative and ingenuitive measures in the presentation of available options, opportunities for investment in a more equitable and just future for our global society.

Illuminated by beams of light spiraling outward from a base structure, the audience will have the opportunity to navigate the sculptural work as an immersive experience meant to peak their interest as well as create a spark within them that will spiral outward into the future.



For Black Lunch Table's winter fundraising campaign Pour Noir, BLT is creating a set of limited edition mugs (ed.100). These limited edition mugs feature original artwork by photographers who have collaborated with us on our Wikimedia Pop-up Portrait Studio. See link in their bio to donate + get your very own mug!
Today they have featured photographs by me, Ronald L. Jones. If you did not know, I'm a Texas based self-taught multidisciplinary artist. My artwork explores barriers between creatives and audiences, while regarding individuals and their communities. My work tends to challenges each individual’s respective perceptions in regard to the availability of access and agency within normative societal structures. The site specific sculptures I create are exercises investigating the usage of available space and how the environment is navigated by the public. These public sculptures, though large in scale, are nearly invisible from a distance; a characteristic which allows the audience to simultaneously experience the sculptures and environment. These sculptural works have existed as both guerrilla installations and have been featured in exhibitions and collaborations with Houston Museum of African American Culture, Art League Houston, Galveston Arts Center, BOX13 ArtSpace, and among others.

Each day of this fundraiser they’ll feature the work of one of their incredible photographers. We are grateful for their artistic vision + contributions to the art historical record.

BLT would like to thank: @tiffanysmithstudio @ronaldllewellynjones @khickmanphotography @zakkiyyah.najeebah @drea_vision

#pournoir #blacklunchtable #limitededition #endofyearcampaign #pournoircampaign #bltpournoir




A Will [A Way]
February 18 - May 14, 2022
Art League Houston | Sculpture Garden

A site specific sculpture presents a physical manifestation of a gilded path. Acrylic sheets hover above Art League Houston’s Sculpture Garden, illuminated by a stand of LED filament.
A Way [A Will] exists as a tangible illustration of an individual’s trajectory through a life cycle. The light force moves through a field of acrylic sheets which are representations of the hidden costs and glass ceilings we encounter in life.

The sculpture invites an audience to witness the hidden parts of an individual's journey as an experience. Following the path through a system of ricochets, deflections, penetrations and moments of circumnavigation it is possible to see how obstacles inhibit, reinforce or disengage a range of trajectories.

This artwork offers an opportunity for self-reflection upon our obligation to members of a global society. It exists as an abstraction that allows an individual to see themselves and also others as part of the same journey, traversing a similar structured network of obstacles.



I still have a hard time believing that a film I created has been screened as part of Houston Cinema Arts Festival.

I moved from my small hometown of Bay City, Texas in rural Matagorda County to pursue a path in filmmaking. I wanted to give voice to individuals that had not had the opportunity to see themselves as heroes amoung heroes.

For nearly six years I have attended HCAF, viewing films, panels and experiencing interactive events. It really is an honor to be a part of the experience this time around and to be able to bring full circle, my want to share stories just like those featured in the film.





It means more than you know to have the privilege and opportunity to make art, and to do it publicly in places where it is not prioritized. It matters in ways I cannot quantify, because I will not meet everyone that will engage the work. I say this, having met several people during these installation processes.

You get a mixture of praise, gratitude and wonderment. You also get the occasional passerby that wants you to know the City won't let it stand, or that maybe the community won't appreciate what you are doing. It is pretty exciting, and also a little intense at times. However, regardless of the type of engagement you will always get an honest reaction.
A while back I stopped thinking that I would find my audience inside the confines of white-walled galleries. I began to understand that some people did not even know that they were someone's intended audience. Others had never been to one of those spaces or felt included in the conversations that might take place in those environments. Still others may not have been engaged in a meaningful way.

Over time I came to the understanding that my audience is everywhere, and always all around me. I just needed to activate them by being present wherever they can be found. I sought an audience in places I knew they had to be, their communities and on their commutes.

For a variety of reasons I stopped putting my name on the public work. I like to think that the work serves its purpose without there being a banner or placard with my name on it. I began to care more about the community having art, being acknowledged and recognized than whatever may come to me for producing the works.

Public art, to me, is a gesture that acknowledges the importance of art and creativity in the general lexicon of humanity. We have to be able to imagine a better world before we can ever set out in search of semblances of such a place.

The future requires an imagination.





Super excited to announce that Hooks-Epstein Galleries and I have joined forces! It's an awesome honor to be represented by a gallery that also represents some of my favorite Houston artists.
Ronald L. Jones
Black [Between the Lines]
January 15, 2022 - February 19, 2022


An exhibition of sculptural works which reference the insidious nature of institutional structures which act as inhibitors of the forward progress of African Americans within the United States of America. Sculptural works featured illuminate an institutional and structural framework, while also including the lived experience within the constructs.

Black [Between The Lines] features works that serve as aids in the elucidation of a continuum of intentional constructs that have moved through time as a means to co-opt, usurp, and stifle upward mobility within purposefully disenfranchised and disinvested African American communities.



I guess I've been using self portraiture as a means of seeing myself through my own lens since I first gained access to a camera.

Images from 2004-05.




While secretly living as a fugitive from the law, I lived in Southern California. Towards the end of a two year period of time I lived in San Diego county.

There were times when my friends and I would drive around and check out random places. One night some friends and I found this lot that overlooked the 76 freeway. It reminded me of one of those make out places from movies.

Around this time, one of my roommates moved to New York to pursue a photography career. He packed all he could into his two-door Civic and made the trek, leaving me his drums.

As a child I used to play the drums that my dad had in his body shop in Houston. He and my uncle were in a band. One night while visiting him before going back to Bay City, I asked if I could have his drums. He said if I could hold a beat I could. At the time I couldn't.
My whole life following that moment, I would dream of owning my own set. When I was gifted the set from my roommate I felt like I was living some kind of dream. He and I would play together: he on the guitar, I on the drums.

During this time I worked at a glass tile warehouse in Carlsbad, a job that was secured through a temp agency. One day following the handoff of the drums, I called in faking being sick.

I loaded up the drumset in the Dodge Neon my sister Jackie gave me before she moved to Louisiana. I drove back to the location, set them up and played for my own enjoyment.

At one point a mom drove up with her young son and they watched me play for about thirty minutes. There was a truck that came later that dumped waste in the lot before leaving.

It was an amazing experience to just show up and play in an vacant lot just to experience it.

However, after about a month of being in New York, he wanted to join a band. The band had a guitar player, but needed a drummer which meant he would require his drumset. Needless to say, I was devastated. Yet, I did ultimately surrender them.

I documented the experience and took self portraits, not for any reason, but to have a physical rendering of an experience. I've only played the drums a handful of times since. This was sixteen years ago.




Lightening [Not Lightning]

During the process of allowing myself to become the topic of conversation within the Houston arts ecosphere I attempted to make sense of what I was dealing with. I had just watched a documentary that followed the rise of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s popularity and subsequent election. It felt as if I had watched a group of filmmakers capturing lightning in a bottle.

It sat with me and I rolled it over in my mind several times. I wished to find a way to incorporate light into my sculpture, but I did not have the means to explore these options. I did possess gold embroidery floss, which I could use as a substitute for the materials needed. I also had several acrylic sheets of various sizes that I had received from Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. I would often be called when they were cleaning and found items they were hoping to dispose of.


I thought of ways in which I could elaborate on what I was experiencing, while also tying together several additional narratives. I wanted to address how I was treated at CAMH and the hours of unpaid work. I wanted to address existing in a space where ceilings never seemed to move out of your purview. I also wanted to find a means of expressing how I had been navigating the arts and life in general, up to that point.

I made two pieces initially. The first was of a single suspended piece of acrylic being engaged by a strand of the golden floss. The second exhibited a single strand of floss engaging two sheets of acrylic. Over time I would create a third piece that would have a single strand of acrylic engaging sheets of acrylic only to be encapsulated within an acrylic cube.

The entire process of creating these works would later allow me the presence of mind to become vulnerable with three very special individuals in my life who would help to move me forward as I was beginning to question my access to any forward trajectory.

I saw these as visual representations of what people were witnessing, or would be privy to in the coming months and years. I wanted to make a statement that no obstacle, no matter the magnitude, would prevent my arrival.




A Story, An Image

While traveling to back and forth from Texas to Camp Pendleton in 2004, I shot about twenty-seven rolls of film. At the time, my roommate Matt worked at Calumet and would develop his own film. He offered to process my many rolls of film as well. I would wait patiently for the roll containing this image to be processed. I thought about it all the time, wondering whether it would come out as I shot it.
When the image was finally produced I was ecstatic. I could not believe I captured it. I was so excited about it. Matt recommended that I enter the photo into the Del Mar Fair photo exhibition. He would have it matted at the store and submit it for me. I did not have big ideas about winning. I had only been shooting for maybe three or four months.

I did not place, but I did receive eight out of a possible ten. I recall meeting one of the judges that juried the show. She was an employee of the camera store. She asked about how I was able to create the blue hue in the top of the image. It was strange as I knew she had already asked Matt the same question prior. I told her and she feigned interest. I would later learn from Matt that my image was not selected because she wanted to make sure her friend’s work was included.

I did not attend the photo exhibition. I was satisfied with having an image reviewed and scored in a photo exhibition. I recall the pride I felt after collecting the image from the fair. I knew that I wanted to continue taking photographs, that I might have found an additional outlet of expression outside that of skateboarding, writing, and collage.





You can embed a lot within the name of a company, an organization or entity. A company can choose to broadcast their intentions within the confines of a few characters, or they could purposely hide themselves and their intent within their chosen name. It is imperative that community members and their representatives know our aim and intentions immediately, as many of whom have already had several unfortunate experiences with outside influences.
Aesthequity is the partnering of the two words: aesthetics and equity. Our singular goal: illuminate opportunities for communal growth and equity for disinvested communities through creative practices. The goal is not to become wealthy monetarily, but to produce immediate results wherever possible, while also creating ongoing self-financed initiatives that can and ultimately will be managed by members of partnering communities.

Aesthequity speaks to the need for creative communities to acknowledge more than the desire to create, but the understanding that by creating publicly, within and in collaboration with a community, real change can be attained.

Local, state and government agencies and organizations have long denied funding for projects that would provide greater visibility for underserved communities only to, years later, seek to employ entire departments to do the same work, not in collaboration with but as proposed experts on the needs of said communities. A pathway to a more equitable future for underserved and disenfranchised communities should not be dependent upon a juried selection; resources and engagement are what is needed most within these communities.

If no one is coming to save us or tell our stories in their proper context, then it is our responsibility to make sure there are those that can speak to it, in the future; not just to carry our memories, but to carry all of our communities into a future that is equitable for all. Although Aesthequity may be an entity that is required at present, it is my hope that the future will not require such an entity to exist.




[black] in pursuit of a monolith

Upon entering the upstairs backdoor you find a dimly lit entryway. The only light source highlights the three panel portrait and two doormats depicting Bjork. The main light is controlled by my neighbors and they keep it off to make it hard for me to be comfortable.

Once inside the space you are greeted by photographs, silkscreen prints, and a television showcasing the forty-five stories from the video series Stories Within City Limits. This room is an entry point within the life of Ronald L. Jones. This room is an acquaintance's description of the person.
Peering into the adjacent room many sculptures, a series of prints and a void fill the space. This room serves as an introduction to the thoughts, ideas and understanding made present for friends of Ronald. In this space you learn of the constructs that the artist navigates and the tools developed to traverse the world. Ideas encapsulated in tangible form. In this friendship space you are aware of an elephant in the room, a source of ideas presented, a black box hidden in a dark void.

The contents of the black box are made tangible and present within the next room. In this space you are asked to navigate a dark room filled with ulcers spewing highlights, or trauma made into positive energy. In this space, audio from another space is heard. The path leads to a hidden passage. This path leads to a crossroads where the future is made visible. You appear from the darkness, illuminated by the light of the future. To exist in the trauma, or to accept the lessons and move into the future is the question posed.

As you turn to leave the projected future, the audio is nearer. Crossing a new threshold, patrons are invited into the mind of the artist, behind his eyes. Pillows depicting hearts tell those that enter this space that they are in my heart. The pupils of the half-closed eyes replay ten years of documentation of the Houston community. These images are funneled into the mind’s eye where they are filtered through the conversations and experiences shared with those held close to the heart and converted into sculptures that carry the information into the future.




A Crude Illustration of Intersectionality Made Present.

There is a saying that appears in science fiction movies: the quickest path between two locations is a straight line. I think about how life is presented as a linear experience. How we are taught to traverse this plane constantly acknowledging the finite nature of our individual and collective existences.
If we were to view our lives, these linear passages as more than a one-dimensional experience, we can see that from another angle, that straight line is actually a system of peaks and valleys. It may actually read more like the display upon a heartbeat monitor.

Yet, still, within this same construct, we must also acknowledge the presence of others along this path. The individuals that arrive when we reach the valley’s pit and those that are present while we peak. These individual’s lives are also attached to our paths.

However, it is not always presented so directly, the impact or the importance of others. In some instances, an underlying theme, experience or occurrence weaves itself into the lives of these individuals. In those moments, we are made aware of our interdependence and reliance upon others and are forced to acknowledge the intersectionalities of our existences.

In this space you are able to see the overlapping dimensionalities that bind us to one another. In this space you can identify how important each individual is to the system and the amount of agency we possess as a whole.

I learned this from making art.




My childhood best friend took the stand as a state’s witness in a trial for my life. At one point he referenced the short stories that I used to write in junior high. That they were violent, at times, because I was dealt violence and did not retaliate. I sculpted characters that pushed back.

At the lunch recess I spoke to a former classmate that was working in the court. I was reprimanded by the bailiff for being close to her. I responded that I was not dangerous. They did not know me. They only knew what I was charged with.
When we walked under the court, to the transport back to county jail, I saw this person pass by with their mother. I wore the suit that my mom and sister picked out for me. My hands were cuffed in front of me. I did not hold a grudge. I was still happy to see him. I raised my hands to say hi as they exited the garage.

When we returned from the recess, my lawyer cross-examined him. Almost line by line, he crossed out the entirety of his statement rendering his testimony useless for the prosecution.

The following day, another childhood friend was set to testify as a state’s witness. My lawyer entered the room where I would be briefed on the day’s agenda. He was not confident that this witness would fall in line with the previous day’s experience. This witness had entered a plea with the guarantee that he would testify against me.

The District Attorney, who never offered me a plea deal, this day made an offer. I could accept two ten year sentences, to run concurrently or I could return to the courtroom and potentially receive up to 109 years in prison.

It was my 23rd birthday.




In March I left Houston to attend a two-week residency in Seaview, Washington. I'd never been to Washington before. While aboard the plane I pondered upon what it was I sought from the experience. All I could think about was a need to be free of something: to be relieved of the seemingly nonstop traumas of the past year. I had not yet come out the other side of it.

When I arrived, I realized the drive from Portland was three, almost four hours. I drove on roads and through wooded areas that looked like they were sculpted for car commericals. It was beautiful. Yet, it all seemed very temporary, much like my stay in the area. I noticed, as I grew closer, that there were big trucks coursing up and down the same highways. They were exporting this paradise for economic reasons. Their experience, too, would begin to feel temporary. I knew I wanted to speak to that.
I had an obligation to present a public work while undertaking the residency and I felt I would use that opportunity to paint a picture of how delicate the future of that community would be, if they continued in that manner.

I worked through a lot during my residency. As is the case, I went a little mad trying to remove my ego from scenerios so that I might be able to better assess my role in either situation I sought to investigate.

As a result, I created five new sculptures addressing a system of structures present within multiple facets of our everyday lives. I thought the best way to keep information hidden while passing it through to the future, would be through creative abstractions.

I also thought about how Dawn needed support while she was in Houston, so many years ago. I thought about how she stepped in and recommended that I apply for this residency. In a lot of ways she provided me a centering opportunity.

I bought this and another lockbox with the intent of creating two works that would speak to hearts of gold draped in soot. I felt slighted, abused, misused and ignored after departing from a large exhibition just prior to the residency. I wanted to characterize or encase the emotional response in a symbolic way.

Instead, there’s a gold heart that sits above the soot.




After my release from prison, I immediately went back into photography and skateboarding. Well, honestly, I was really afraid that people would be afraid of me, or not want to know me. It wasn't until I met @skateorelse at the skate shop that I understood that folks still looked up to me. Folks had never stopped talking about me as a skateboarder. It was how Marcus knew who I was when he entered the skate shop. Ronnie Jones, the tall Black skater that's always skating in town. There were more Black skaters than when I left. It used to just be me.
I wanted to follow through with photos I imagined while I was away. I leaned heavily on the skaters in town for night time photoshoots. We were well aware that there was nothing to do, so we had late night adventures. Driving around looking for cool lowlight situations where I could test out some ideas or just to see if the camera could see in the dark.

We all start someplace. A lot of times the people around you aren't aware how much you actually need them. Then there are times when you aren't even aware of that required bond. I needed Marcus to walk in that skate shop. I needed Rusty, Josh, and Toby all those nights we went out shooting. Looking back on those times, reviewing images of those excursions, I understand that we all needed each other. They, and I, might have felt it, but we never said nor made mention of it.

Life is a lot like freeze tag. You meet folks and they touch you in a way that asks you to be still for them, if only for a moment. If you're willing or able, you stay there in that space with them until you're tapped to move for someone else. You move through life touching and being touched, freezing and being frozen.




My next documentary project will be examining the church in the Black community.

I grew up in a predominantly, if not entirely Black community. We had clinics, convenience stores, clothing stores, night clubs and speakeasys (my great-grandfather owned and operated one), laundromats, and so much more. Today, we only have the remnants of those structures, if they have not been destroyed or left as empty lots.

These changes, this devastation, did not happen in the dark. We were all here for it.

I started to think about what I longed for as a adolescent, what I really saw, but could not put words to at the time. It was willful disengagement, a sense of disassociation. It's all that I could feel; that someone felt it was not their part to play, that their role was to watch and not take part. But watching is taking part, an inactive role that allows the wave to crash.
While this was happening the churches within the community grew, new ones were built and new building funds started to maintain those new spaces, along with the old. The housing projects changed management, but nothing improved, no upward mobility was established. Community members, lifelong congregation members, were forced to hold a fish fry, bake sale, or another alternative as way to fund a proper memorial service.

I started to ask myself, why is the church here, aside from shepherding the congregation into the house Jesus built? If the nine churches aren't starting community gardens that become a community farmer's market; if they aren't buying the housing projects to provide upward mobility for the residents trapped in a cycle of poverty; if the church is not acting as a job fair; if it isn't paying the bills for the elders of the community; if it is not acting as the resource that it is, what is it here for?

The church, in many Black communities, is the heart of the community. Yet, in so many communities, the heart never circulates the blood it's fed. Humans are given a single heart at birth, but many Black communities have upwards of seven hearts. How is it that so many communities still seem to need a transfusion?

All these hearts pumping in so much of the community's lifeblood.




I was beginning to feel myself spiralling. I did not want to die, I did not have those ideations. I just could not find safety, comfort, protection. I always felt like my artwork told the story of me, where I stand, where I come from and have been through, what I have witnessed, or wished to acknowledge. I tried to speak in parables, metaphors, similes and through abstractions. I was direct, focused and descriptive in the discussion and presentation of the narrative. Yet, people would ask me to elaborate upon those topics, they would ask why they had not known prior, they would continue to inquire. I started to feel like I was being gaslit by everyone.
I sat thinking about all the posts I had made about how my landlady would sneak into my apartment while I was gone. Usually following the compulsive transitioning of space which would follow any shift in artistic medium or traumatic life experience. I would rearrange my apartment to help me deal with things I could not control. I would minimize my imprint within the space so that more artistic possibilities could be presented or explored more readily. She and her brother had both walked in while Nina was painting her mural, I believe. And it’s possible that Latricio may have encountered one or the other as well. I know that my ex-girlfriend, when visiting from Sweden, encountered her. I would set traps to be sure, and I was sure. No one else could get in the locked gate or had a key into my apartment.

I thought about the stint of time where I paid more than both the individuals I shared the building with; something I learned only once my rent went up $135 when I needed the stove replaced. A stove which leaked so bad I had to cut the gas off if I was not cooking. It was the first thing you would smell upon entering my apartment at the time. It was not the first time my rent was hiked. It went up once before, just after I needed the refrigerator replaced. I had to catch the leaking water with pitchers before she believed me. When I asked for them to be my ally in an action to draw attention to the discrepancy, there were none to be found. I knew if anything else were to break, I would need to figure it out.




I hate driving in Houston. It's not how I want to experience this city. I might love the people here, but once they get into their cars, I suddenly hate everyone around me. I hate having to drive for me and everyone else on the road. Although biking appears less safe, I feel more in control of my movement and have greater freedom to navigate the city.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep this bike after what happened, even if it could be fixed. It just carries an ominous glow for me right now. Those feelings, I know, will fade with time.
I took my bike to @fixedupbikeshop just hoping that they could help me out with some of the repairs and replacement parts. It could be said that my preexisting relationship with the shop played a part, but honestly, I know they're just good people.

They reached out to folks in the community for parts that would fit my older bike. They put it back together for me and I couldn't be happier. Even though I may not feel extremely comfortable riding it at the moment, I am truly grateful for all the time and effort they put into making sure I was able to mount it again.

For now, however, I have another bike, which I purchased early in the week. It's a little shorter in length, but it is also much lighter than my original bike. So, for now, I have two bikes: one I bought to protect my current state of mind and another fully restored, and in a lot of ways, in a better condition than before.

So, this is an appreciation post for the work they put into making sure I was able to get back out there on the bike I've ridden almost daily for seven years. My bike is a mental health tool and not having it for any length of time could be potentially dangerous for me.

Thank y'all, I can never fully contextualize or express how much it means to have my bike back or how grateful I am that y'all went out of your way for me, especially given the circumstances.




Sometimes I cry randomly thinking how I find comfort in the idea of committing suicide. I rush into all kinds of emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually taxing endeavors because I want the time I have here to be filled with projecting others into a future I never felt certain exists for myself. At times, it feels like a warm blanket.

Last year, starting from the very beginning of the year I struggled with being here. I wanted to die for a lot of reasons. I still battle with some of those issues. Many have followed me from childhood; things I could not shake and did not have the tools to ascertain what I was experiencing, or why.

First, it was the residency, then came the coverage and the folks that sought to attach themselves to me for their own benefits. If not for COVID-19 forcing a break and separation, I would have had a nervous breakdown before the summer.
Then the summer came and I had a nervous breakdown.

Over the past seven years I have only reached out for help when I literally was about to go outside and kill myself. I'd call friends and tell them what I was going through, or not. Sometimes I would just cry with them on the phone. There were also times when I could not pick up the phone because I felt that it would make it real. Then there were others when no one I called answered.

In May 2020, I finally told myself that I did not want to die. Or maybe, I didn't want to die for those reasons. It was at that time that I reached out to the professionals at Montrose Center.

It took three months for them to meet the criteria I set for anyone who would be my therapist. They had to be BIPOC, preferably a woman. After dealing with HR at the museum, I swore I would never seek mental health advice from someone that cannot relate to my experiences. I also only have sisters and feel most comfortable speaking and sharing with women. In all my life, I have had only a handful of positive male role models.

After twelve months with my current therapist, I can say that I am much better at understanding myself and certain actions. I am sure of who I am, what I am capable of and who I want in my life. I have found comfort in these acknowledgements.




How It Started Vs. How It's Going

I had just moved from my apartment in Greenspoint and had nowhere to go. I essentially put all my property in storage and decided that I would sleep in my car until I figured something else out. However, I did not have to spend a single day in my car at that time. Eric Todd , whom I had only recently met, invited me to stay with him in Houston’s Second Ward.

Having no income, outside that of the grants and loans for UH, I was desperate for opportunities to not be reliant upon those funds. After missing out on several opportunities I lost my patience with college and dropped out to do the same work, without the additional debt. That independence only lasted a month or so. I quickly ran out of money and had to leave Eric’s.
During this time I saw a friend, Jessie was hosting an art exhibition in their home and I wanted to be involved, if only to have someplace to be for like 8 hours a day. The event was not posted when I saw it. It was only a blank page with a title. I called my friend Nina and told her about the project and we met there that same night. For the next two months we would collaborate with artists that I had, at the time, never met or heard of.

It was also the first time I would attempt to complete a mural. I had the idea to paint myself in a corner; a cramped and tight space. I wanted to show how I felt. I felt trapped and placed in a corner. I felt at risk, but did not wish to vocalize it. I just wanted to create something that would hold that space for me.

While working on it, I hit a wall. I did not know how to proceed. I asked Jah Jah if he could offer any advice and he simply told me to “just say yes.” I listened and ultimately accomplished my goal of creating the work. However, while we were away Baltazar had come by and marked over a lot of other people’s artwork, mine included. I took offense, but decided I would be more proactive and work with the mess he left. I decided I would create a spiral to cover the markings.

It reminds me of what I was willing to do to make it where I needed to be. I remember the learning experiences and the growth that was made possible just by having access to a space.



Since the purchase of a used point and shoot camera, I have been rediscovering my love of street photography and shooting in general.

I loved the cameras I've used prior, but hated the thought that should anyone try it, I might have to die for the equipment. Not because I'm tough, but because it's an extension of myself. A part of me that I have activated to provide self care, as well as financial stability. So, I kind of have to fight you.

The past few days I have just been saying, "You know what, I'm gonna just enjoy my life for the rest of my life."

Here are some photos from the past few days.




I biked to see G5 Collective’s Emergence, which was curated by Erin Carty and Sarah Beth Wilson of Art League Houston. The exhibition featured works by Isela Aguirre, Saran Alderson, Layla Bispo, Cat Davila-Martinez, Mark Francis, Liz Gates, Julia Kidd, Michelle Matthews, Reema and Sydney Parks, Ashita Sawhney, Hollie Stephan, Lee Walters, Douglas Welsh and Isabelle Zimmerman. I was invited to the exhibition by a very good friend, who was also in the exhibition Layla Bispo.
Layla is a friend I made by accident. I cannot remember it, but I am told that I rescued her from some creeps at what was once called The House of Creeps, or maybe it was the Dr’s Office. Both spaces served as hosts for DIY events, pop-ups and after hours spots for folks that were a part of the undercurrent of creativity existent within Houston.

They, Layla, would tell me about all the things they were learning and all the people in the collective. I learned of the field trips and collaborative projects they would be working on together. It felt like something familiar and welcoming. I was eventually invited to tag along with the G5 Collective to Galveston Artist Residency and Galveston Arts Center. I ate lunch with them and listened in on bits and pieces of conversations and read everyone’s expressions and body language. Everyone seemed to want to be present. It was what also spurred me to want to see the works they produced in their respective practices.




Sarah Fisher, who recently purchased an artwork I submitted for DiverseWorks’ Luck of The Draw fundraising event, invited me to meet her colleagues Shang-Yi and Romeo Clay Robinson, and herself for lunch and a conversation. I never like that it happens, but I tend to strong arm conversations to disseminate my ideas, thoughts and projections. In a lot of ways, I am seeking out like minded individuals that I would like to help arrive in the future.

Our conversations led to a series of studio visits where I was informed about the thoughts and ideas, intentions and information embedded within the works of the respective artists. I was intrigued to learn of how they first met and how they have found a way to maintain a sense of community. Our earlier conversation created an opportunity for Sarah to provide an introduction to someone I’ve known and been a vicarious admirer of, Michelle Barnes.
Michelle Barnes is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Community Artists’ Collective. As their website states,"the Collective serves as the catalyst which provides the inspirational and educational sources for artists and citizens so that they can use their talents and creative abilities to solve economic, cultural and social challenges in the natural and built environments in which we live, work and serve."

I was informed that some small people would be visiting the Collective that afternoon and I was invited by Ms. Barnes to visit with them. I am almost always open, willing, ready and able to spend time with, or make myself available for folks who would benefit from my presence.

The young persons pictured were from @shapecommunitycenter located in 3rd Ward on Live Oak. I was informed that they go om field trips like the one pictured every Friday.

(Not pictured Sarah Fisher, Shang-Yi, Romeo Clay Robinson)



I was mentally, emotionally and spiritually unwell. I didn't know what to do with myself. I reached out in all directions for a space to investigate what I was experiencing. I heard not a reply.

I remembered there was a place that could hold the weight. Would it still be there? It was not. But, another did exist.

For two weeks, I worked through my issues to find myself once again. Myself and friends cleaned this park. Shoveling dirt to clear pathways, picked up and bagged discarded clothing, branches leaves and waste.

For nearly three months, and almost daily, I returned to maintain the sculpture and clean the area. Today, it is almost always clean, without my help.



This is amazing! So humbled to have played a very small part in this! Such an important step!





Over the last seven years I have learned to view the application process as a glass ceiling and deterrent for individuals without professional artist and exhibition statements, documentation or previous exhibition experience. I, like many artists, became infuriated with the process and it's of lack clarity with regard to denials.

So, me being myself, I wanted to investigate that system. It felt like a gatekeeper for an audience that might want to meet me. I had been hoping to introduce myself, eventually. However, I wanted to speak directly to their audiences, circumnavigating the process entirely. I wanted to be sure I was wanted in the space and if what I was creating would meet someone new that would help to fund the continuation of that work.
I submitted two works to two silent auctions, two years ago. I needed to give myself an ultimatum on how much I was investing in investigating different mediums. I told myself, "If either one does not sell, I will discontinue that practice for the time being."

The events happened on Thursday and then on Friday. On Thursday, the print sold. The next day, someone stood in front of my piece to make sure they won it. Both instances were heartwarming and reaffirming.

This year, I expanded upon the concepts and ideas incorporated in the previous works. Both artworks sold.

This is not a knock at either institute as they both have provided opportunities for my success in the past. It's simply to highlight the need for more spaces for art to be made visible.

Sometimes the things that get rejected, if accepted, could change someone's life. Which is why I am so committed to the idea of intersectionality of community, because so many people just need a light to be shone on them for only a moment.





Ronald L. Jones
[black] in pursuit of a monolith
@sayersgallery
Summer/Fall 2021

A Note From The Artist:
I had it all figured out. I was ready. I’d quit my job and began to work as a contractor for other organizations. I was able to have the conversations I wanted to have, without fear of rebuke. I could begin to share myself freely. I was creating more artistic space and opportunities for myself. I was beginning to see the agency I could take hold and move forward with it in my possession.
I applied, was nominated and won a residency. I’d been prepared for them to decline my application during the submission process. I would use the declination letter to explain how my past attempts to beat me at every pass to shortstop my progress. In the application they said the background check would occur during the semi-finalist selection. It didn’t.

Having it all planned out. The idea that I would be in a position where no one would be able to decline me an opportunity. I had returned from prison dead set on owning everything I would need to create, live, and love myself through creative practices evolving from self-preservation and self-care needs. I just wanted to be able to say who I was, be me and not be restricted to a corner.

I wanted to say what my experiences were and I needed a jump off point. They gave it to me, but I had not thought I would be unprepared for it. Having the wind knocked out of me multiple times a day reflecting upon how bleak a future with no friends would be. Being transported to my release date and thinking, “Fuck, who is going to love me now?” And, “How am I going to make friends now?” Then, “What career could I have now?”

[black] in pursuit of a monolith, is an exhibition consisting of new sculptural works and installations by Houston-based artist Ronald L. Jones. This exhibition serves as a reflection upon that moment in time as well as an examination of what it means to be Black in America with the multitude of variants preventing the conflation of experience. [black] projects an answer into the ether with hopes that it reaches the future, those who will take up the baton to cross the finish line.



Half Your Worth [All Your Time], 2021
Mixed Media
20 x 20 x 6 in.

I have been working towards finding a binding media for some time now. Seeking out a way to create some kind of a unified form or aesthetic. A way to meld their respective vocabularies.

I created this piece with @skateorelse in mind. I thought about him making me a clock in woodshop, while he was still in high school. My friend @mattcasas has the other half of the torn bill from the print. I carry my half in my wallet. Both are father's who work, or have had to take on jobs that limited available time with their families.
I received the acrylic sheets from my last place of employment, back when they would let me know when used supplies were available. I would always claim things. Subconsciously, I probably was looking for ways to make them pay me for how they treated me, by selling artwork created from materials sourced from the organization. In my artwork they are always representative of an oppressive structure, obstruction or glass ceiling.

The gold floss is representative of a path, or life. It is part of a vernacular developed as a result of the depression that set on after the revocation of a residency opportunity. It was originally a stand-in for lightning, or a light element. It is borrowed from the phrasing, "capturing lightning in a bottle."

In this work, the path is completely restricted to the confines of the task of working, knowing your full worth will never be recognized by those who employ you.

Back in my downloading days, I used to search random words and download whatever came up. One of those things was Kings of Convenience. It was a band and I'd describe them as upbeat and happy, but also still kinda depressing. They have a song titled Gold For The Price Of Silver. I feel like it fits the context.




I am producing three new large public sculptures this summer. I am super excited to share these works with you all. However, whenever I take up these guerilla works it is extremely taxing.
I fear any engagement with law enforcement while I'm installing. When I arrive, I work as quickly as possible. I attempt to make what I envisioned visible to lower the likelihood that anyone would question my presence.

I am a Black man with a criminal history. It is reasonable to say, that by not going the traditional bureaucratic route that I'm playing with fire. If of course, avoiding any engagement with law enforcement is my goal. But, I'm not willing to wait four weeks to six months for an organization, a panel, jury, juror, curator, director, gallerist or whomever to validate an idea that does not even require their validation.

So I'm like....

"Either let me fly, or give me death
Let my soul rest, take my breath
If I don't fly, I'm die anyway
I'ma live on, but I'll be gone any day"
@dmx




Projections [Not Predictions]

During my science class, I was taken by a photograph of a classmate. It was a black and white photograph of a younger version of her. It was the most beautiful image I’d ever seen and I couldn’t even express why I felt such intense emotion from a portrait. It was like a scene from a different lifetime captured by someone wishing to lock a special moment as it appeared. The image seemed to be projecting the past into the present to influence the future.
Projections, like predictions, aim to discern one or more potential likelihoods. However, projections unlike predictions seem to require a more active hand to maintain a prospective path.

I think nonstop. I constantly replay conversations and investigate their implications in a multitude of complex situations and scenarios. I overthink. I overthink out of self-preservation. A taught, learned, and adapted skill set built out of insecurities amplified by outside influences.

My thoughts consume me in ways that cause me to, at times become less reliable, flakey, short-tempered, depressed, and manic. There are so many conversations waiting for a starter, resting at the far corners and recesses of my mind.




I finally was able to apply for, be awarded, participate in and successfully complete an artist residency! Can't even tell you how traumatic even applying for things is after being denied the previous one.
I am so grateful for @souwester_arts and @dawnstetzelstudio for making this opportunity possible and being so awesome during my time there.

I also got to reconnect with @jaz.henry.art and her family which was really, really awesome!

These are just some photos and videos that I took with my phone since I have decided to leave my camera at home for non-work related trips.

Oh! I got to see sealions for the first time, in real life! I literally was like, "Why would they just be playing a recording of sealions this loud?" And then, there they were.




A year later....
Environmental Racism in Houston

In the 1980s, Dr. Robert Bullard and his team at Texas Southern University in Houston's Third Ward found that hazardous facilities like dumps and incinerators were being disproportionately sited in historically Black and brown neighborhoods. His research helped illuminate larger patterns of racist discrimination in exposure to pollution and access to housing, transit, food, health care and other essentials that have deepened and entrenched inequality in the U.S.

"Again, Together" is a film created in partnership with Ronald L. Jones, bringing stories from communities across Houston that have been impacted by environmental racism — namely redlining, segregation, underinvestment, exposure to pollution, gentrification, inequitable disaster recovery resources and freeway development.





Took my niece and nephews on a brief tour of the Black experience. Had them take turns reading the texts of the influential leaders that not only founded Emancipation Park, but went on to do even greater things within and outside the Third Ward community.
I also took them to Freedmen's Town (4th Ward) and the Gregory school and spoke to them about the importance of what those formerly enslaved persons achieved even in the face of tremendous adversity. I elaborated on the bricks that make the road, the shotgun homes and the impending threat of displacement by outside development interests.

I felt it was important to plant a seed that could illuminate how we are a community connected via perseverance through unimaginable obstacles and imperceivable obstructions. I wanted to impart that the struggle continues with each generation and that each leg of this relay should be easier than the next.

I feel that they should know that we all share the responsibility to not only build towards a future for ourselves and our families, but for our global community as well.



Finally found a non-hazardous way to stiffen my small sculptures so they can become unecapsulated, boundless, self-sustaining structures.

Seeing it realized only feeds the fire to see more ideas to fruition. There are literally millions of possibilities in this new space. I'm probably going spend a lot of time challenging myself to produce those works.

And even though this was not the original intent, I'm still equally satisfied with the results!




I'd been wishing to work light into my larger sculptural works, but never had the budget or opportunity through an institution. I found these lights at Hobby Lobby when I was looking for model trees and turf. I had them for about eight months before I opened them and realized that I needed to by a power adapter.
I knew I didn't have the real know-how to make a custom case and didn't trust anyone to produce what I wanted without compromise. As luck would have it. Patrick @prennerart helped me to see a frame to fruition. It was just an idea that I wanted to see through.

It took about three or four months before I actually had time to touch it. In that time, life happened. Ideas swirled and the amorphous blob of an idea started to take shape. I knew it would be a part of a series of sculptures I've titled Lightening.

Lightening borrows from the phrase "capturing lightening in a bottle." The series depicts a single strand of gold floss ricocheting, penetrating and circumnavigating suspended lucite sheets in three-dimensional space.

The series depicts ascension through perseverance in the face of invisible obstacles and glass ceilings.




I was at the airport. I came with friends to support those persons whom had been recently banned from entering the country by the current administration. People were being detained within the airport. Many lawyers were there fighting for each individual. The group of Houstonians that arrived there en masse came to welcome these people to our city.

I had never been to a protest at an airport. It felt like a movie. I kept imagining the rules would be different. Entering the crowd with my poster, which read "What is this, Nazi Germany?!" I heard the president say something to that effect on television. It felt at the time like we were becoming a fascist nation by limiting diversity.
Chanting from my chest into the crowd, I was approached by a white man in his mid-30s. He began to go on about the contextual basis of the quote and the nature of the protest. Two Muslim women standing nearby joined in opposition to his points within the conversation. While engaged in that conversation I was then approached by a Latino man in his mid-30s. He too appeared to be there not to support but to subvert.

The Muslim women seemed to have had enough and stopped speaking to either of the men. Having two very disparate conversations simultaneously and I was beginning to feel defeated and exhausted...A hand lighted on my shoulder. I turned to see Monica. She smiled. I smiled back. Without a missed beat we were now engaged.

She and I introduced ourselves after we'd ended our conversations. I expressed just how happy I was to see her, and at the exact moment I wished for her presence. Her being there, it was like a blessing.

Long after she and I separated at the protest shouting erupted. A poster of a frog from an internet meme could be seen above. He was jostled and walked out of the crowd and forced to leave.

I really didn't know how awesome she was when we met. But in the four years since that moment, I've been watching her being a leader in the equality movement for the Black transgender community.

It was a blessing to be invited into her presence. Even if it was just having a side-by-side argument with a white supremist and his friend in an airport.

#blacktranslivesmatter




Yesterday my brother Stephen Wilson reached out to inquire if I would be interested in documenting a video statement, very last minute. There's nothing I dislike more than taking on last minute jobs with very quick turnarounds. So I was not only skeptical, but nearing pessimistic.
When I asked what the video would be used for, he began to explain that Philonise Floyd, George Floyd's brother, would be arriving at ACLU's Houston office to record a video that would be shown at the United Nations the next day. I cut him off before he finished the sentence, "Fuck yeah!"

In the video Philonise implores UN leaders to create a review committee to begin an inquiry into the treatment of Black people in America and the treatment of protesters as well. Something I very earnestly believe needs to happen in order for America to finally acknowledge accountability for its treatment of Black people and protesters fighting for equality in this country.

I am extremely appreciative of and humbled by the honor of sharing space with this family and playing a very very small part in creating a much needed change in the landscape for Black people in America and the world.



I received a text from my good friend @mariahrockefeller that contained a link to this article in @glasstire about my piece in the park.

I just want to thank all of the volunteers that came by and helped clean up the space, the folks that visited the sculpture, posted, shared and helped to document it.

It's all very, very appreciated and I'm grateful for y'all! ❤️




Art means the world to me. My creative practice serves as a voice for how I interpret my surroundings. It offers moments of pause that allow me to center myself, avoiding anxiety and depression.
Yarn sculptures are my most favorite thing. They give me several hours of freedom of thought. Not having access to space to work out my inner conflicts I search for neglected spaces that I most likely won't be kicked out of.

This is where this park comes in. I adopted it. I needed a space to create and meditate. I didn't want to put something there without addressing the waste and disrepair. So I decided I would not only produce an artwork, I would also clean the park.

Lots of friends have come by and new ones have been made in the process. I really appreciate the support. It means the world to me.

Also, I didn't ask permission to do this and I understand that it could be gone tomorrow. I'm okay with that because I simply saw an opportunity and acted on it. It feels good to just do something some times.




Today I stopped by arts educator @mlaszczynski art appreciation class at HCC Southeast to talk about my installations and small sculptures.
While there we collaborated on an installation in the hallway leading to their classroom.

This was my first collaborative piece since I first attempted to create one with @needlesstothread in 2014. I'm really happy with the final product and elated that HCC is allowing us to leave it up for two weeks!

I'm also super stoked about the piece of art Melinda gave me for speaking to her class!



I was invited by the @terrysuprean to speak to a few of his art classes at St. Agnes Academy yesterday.

Terry and I love the idea of building a stronger, more connected and active community and both recognize the need for us to acknowledge our peers as being a part of a greater conversation.

So it was nice to be able to speak to his class and reinforce some of the ideas that he has been actively trying to get his students to incorporate not only into their practices, but their lives as well.




Today I stopped by @eva_projections 1st grade art class to speak about creating three dimensional sculptures, both large and small, using string.
Its a great thing that I started creating the smaller sculptures, because having a physical reference really helps explain some of the choices I have to make when creating the larger forms.

Erica and I turned over some of the tables in the classroom and passed out lengths of yarn, giving them an opportunity to collaboratively create an installation of their own.

It was a lot of fun sitting back and watching their young minds find ways to collaborate in separate groups and ultimately connecting the two installations.

As you can see from the last photo, I was really, really happy with their final product. 📷 @eva_projections



 
Sometimes it takes a while for me to process things. Today was the first day since I left Contemporary Arts Museum Houston that I actually felt proud of all I'd accomplished while working there. I was first hired under the guise of a Multimedia Fellowship with a year-long contract, which was extended. Through hard work and determination I was able to vie for and establish a part-time and later a full-time staff position for Videographer.
During my time there I was able to meet so many awesome people and interview some of my favorite artists, some of whom have become good friends of mine. I think this was the highlight of the experience. To see that they're normal people and that their stories are sometimes universal. To create a promotional video that would allow them to speak their truths about not only themselves, but the work they created and poured themselves into. There's nothing greater than having an artist express gratitude for the videos I produced for their exhibitions. To know that they felt like they were being seen and heard, and presented in a way that was in tune with their goals and aspirations as creatives.

While there I always tried to find a way to incorporate and associate my own community with these artists. When possible I would use music from my peers as a way to validate their work and put them in the same conversations with artists, both emerging and established. I am proud of all I was able to do there and all the work I put into these projects.



I often find myself missing the meditative and calming experience of making a large installation. Not having a readily available to space to create them can be hard to deal with at times. Over the past few months I've been trying to find a way to make these installations smaller. So, I decided that I would use model car displays to make these miniature sculptures.

It's been fun scaling down these sometimes enormous installations to fit in something I can easily carry around with me. It also makes me happy that I can navigate around the absence of available space and still create something that I'm excited about.

Thanks @notanobject for providing the string!





Inspired by local artist and designer @dreforgotten , I decided to learn how to make stencils. After learning how to make them I decided to offer a crash course tutorial for anyone that wanted to learn how to make a basic stencil with Photoshop.
After learning from my friend @fatwaxpat that his job was hiring a screen printer, I decided I would learn to do that as well. Due primarily to the fact that cutting some of the things I had ideas for was not going to work with my ADD. I didn’t get that job. But, my friends Jessie Anderson and @nnnnnoooooooooo showed me how to while we were coworkers at CAMH. I love to share what I learn, so I asked if they would help me lead a workshop for friends.

This month I start the awesome opportunity of instructing a screen printing class at @txrxlabs . This summer I will also be teaching a two week screen printing course for grade school kids. I’m super stoked because I can trace the path and can identify all the persons in the arts community that were instrumental along the way.

#sharingiscaring



I wanted to send out a very public thank you to my friend Jennie Ash, who always recommends me to whomever is seeking arts documentation. Whenever someone says that I came highly recommended by Jennie, I always call or text her to thank her by saying what I always say, "I don't know what I did to deserve this, but thank you very much!"

It always makes me uncomfortable saying that I'm good at something. I've never been one to talk myself up, because I always feel like an imposter. So it always feels awesome to know I have someone that is looking out for and supporting me by providing more opportunities to succeed.

Just wanted to let you all know how grateful and appreciative I am of Jennie and everyone that has supported me in my path. I'm truly grateful for your continued support.




Earlier this week I was invited to YES Prep Southeast to speak to arts educator Annie McAllister’s classroom. I was able to speak about my own path into the arts, which did not take form until long after I’d graduated high school.
I used this opportunity to address some of the personal struggles I’ve experienced while seeking validation within the arts. I felt it was important to present a grounded representation of this journey as there is so much left to the imagination when speaking about artists and arts culture.

For example, not all creatives have the opportunity or generated income to sustain themselves based on their creative talents. Most of us have full time jobs. Some artists are able to tailor their creative talents and interests in a variety ways that allows for them to hold creative or more rewarding positions within a work environment. I was able to share that for others this is not always an available path.

I stressed the idea of community and recognizing the needs of other creatives that you may be working in conversation with. I believe that with a greater sense of community the needs of the many can be met and a more inclusive arts community and arts culture can be made possible.



In my time at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston l have been a part of quite a few early morning departure ceremonies. Although I have had close relationships with many of those individuals, I have never really spoken to their achievements within the positions they've held. But Jessie Anderson is different for me. Jessie wasn't just my coworker. In her time there she also became one of my best friends.

I may not have been there the entirety of her time at CAMH, but in my time there I have seen her grow into her own within her most recently held position as Tour Programs Coordinator.
Jessie started as a member of the installation build out crew helping with the installation of exhibitions, the only woman on the crew I might add. During this time Jessie also worked as a FAQ Team member. FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Team persons lead tour groups and activities during CAMH's public programs. This was a fact that I was only made aware of when I found her helping out during my first CAMH Family Day experience.

When Jamal Cyrus, the former Teen Council Coordinator left the museum to pursue teaching, Micheal Simmonds filled his position leaving his old post as FAQ Team Coordinator. Seeking an opportunity for advancement Jessie applied for the position of FAQ Team Coordinator and was rightfully given the position by then Communications Director Connie McAllister. Connie had a keen sense for spotting potential in everyone and always knew who would fit and grow not only as a person but help to strengthen her department.

In her time as Tour Programs Coordinator I have seen Jessie slowly morph the position and its responsibilities into something almost completely different from what it was when she accepted the opportunity.

She had a way of dissecting even the most complex ideas of each exhibition and making them easily digestible to all audiences and also had the amazing capability of creating crafts that address the artist's intent as well as the practice by which they created their work. She did this for each and every exhibition and for every age group, whether K-12, college students, adults, those interested in the arts or those who were not.




This was the exact moment when I realized I had reached a new level of fatigue that was dangerous to my health.

Waves of warmth and coolness swept over my body. I began to lose my ability to focus on what I was recording. I knew that within the hour I would find myself being picked up from the floor.
I broke a personal promise to practice self-care. I promised myself that I would to take at least one day off a week, that I would go outside and get away from my computer desk, that I would actually utilize my lunch break to eat and not work as I have been known to do in the past.

Sometimes you have to make changes in your life to ensure that your mental and physical health are never compromised by the work you produce or your work ethic.



Growing up I was very seldomly exposed to Black people in positions of power, authority, or one that was to be treated with a great deal of reverence.

Whenever a person of color, more specifically a Black person, held one of these positions it has always made me extremely proud.
Black people and other systemically disenfranchised persons have always had a difficult time in the United States of America. There has never been easy path to success for us. Achieving any sense of success has always been a hard fought battle.

So when I see someone that looks like me in a position predominantly held by a white male, my own sense of self-worth is raised to new heights.

The former Senior Curator of Contemporary Arts Museum Houston Valerie Cassel Oliver has been one of those persons for me. Showing me that not only do we belong, but that we can achieve more than what we could have ever imagined.

Thank you Valerie!