Rice University Arts Incubator


Text by Katharine Shilcutt
Director of Student Media
A new arts incubator from Rice’s Diluvial Houston Initiative will bring together environmental artists and activists from Houston and New Orleans to form new artistic networks while also allowing Rice students and the wider community to see performances from leaders in the field.

The workshop intentionally coincides with the Rice-hosted Society of Environmental Journalists conference that same week. It highlights the depth and breadth of environmental studies at Rice, which has experienced a surge in enrollment, as well as the variety of approaches people can take to working on profound environmental concerns.

Its programs position people in the humanities to question the history, culture and politics behind Houston’s infrastructure and its vulnerabilities to climate change and flooding. Diluvial Houston also aims to serve as a model for other communities affected by rising sea levels and other environmental disasters.

Artists in the incubator include Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Lisa D'Amour, a performer and former carnival queen; Aron Chang, an urban designer, educator and co-founder of Water Leaders Institute; Shana M. griffin, a black feminist activist and visual artist whose work draws on her expertise in interdisciplinary research; Kathy Randels, theater educator and the founding artistic director of ArtSpot Productions; and Monique Verdin, a film producer and storyteller who documents the relationship between environment, culture and climate in southeast Louisiana. All five work in and around New Orleans.

Houston-based artists include Lisa E. Harris, multimedia artist, opera singer and composer; Ronald Llewellyn Jones, a self-taught multidisciplinary artist known for his site-specific sculptures installed guerilla-style in outdoor locations; Ayanna Jolivet Mccloud, a visual and performance artist and writer as well as executive director of Bayou City Waterkeeper; and JD Pluecker, who works across such fields as writing, history, translation, art, interpreting, bookmaking, queer/trans aesthetics, non-normative poetics, language justice and cross-border cultural production.