Many of us who are involved in museums are dedicated to caring for material culture and educating others about subjects like history, science, art and culture. But how often do we get to roll up our sleeves and be a part of making a tangible and unique expression that will leave a lasting legacy in our community? The 2011 AAM Community Service Project on Saturday, May 21 from 2 – 5 pm will give us just that opportunity.
AAM has partnered with one of Houston’s newest museums, the Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) located at 4807 Caroline at Wentworth in the Houston Museum District, to give conference attendees and Houstonians alike the opportunity to unite and make murals that will be displayed publicly around the city at locations as diverse as Julia C. Hester House in the Fifth Ward, the Jewish Community Center, Ripley House Neighborhood Center, Blue Triangle Community Center in the Third Ward, and the Chinese Community Center.
You don’t have to be an artist to participate in the community service project or even think of yourself as creative or craftsy. The project is open to all! We need all hands on deck to HMAAC expand the scope and impact of its mural initiative! There’s no doubt in my mind as to how rewarding the project will be as we all chip in to support a new museum.
The afternoon is designed to be easy and fun. HMAAC has selected a diverse group of talented local artists, such as Jade Cooper, Matt Manalo, Toni Brione, Julian Kyle, Daniel Anguilu, and Shannon Duckworth, who have designed paint-by-number-type murals for us to help fill in. The artists will be present during the project to guide us through the process, talk to us about their inspiration and discuss how they hope the works will affect the communities in which they are installed.
This is the first year that an AAM host committee has organized a community service project, and it will set an important precedent for how the conference can be leveraged in the future to support museums and spread positive change in the host community at large. The AAM Community Service Project is something that Dean Phelus, AAM’s director of meetings and professional development has always wanted to do, and he knew that the Houston Local Host Committee would be the right group to make it happen. Upon hearing the concept, Dr. Peter Marzio, who served as the General Chair of AAM 2011 until his death in December 2010, eagerly embraced the idea and charged the Local Host Committee’s public art and programming subcommittee led by co-chairs Jonathan Glus, the CEO of Houston Arts Alliance, and Claudia Schmuckli, director and chief curator of Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston, with the task of organizing it.
HMAAC was identified early on as an important partner in the project as their new home in the Houston Museum District is nearing completion around the same time as the AAM conference, and the subcommittee worked closely with John Guess, Jr. and the staff at HMACC to plan the project. HMAAC is an African American Museum that serves the greater Houston community, which is characterized by diversity. This diversity is reflected in the participating artists and community centers of this project, and reflected by HMAAC’s programming in general. In addition, Houston has a storied history of magnificent murals, including those by the legendary African American painter John Biggers, and it will be an honor to participate in that tradition even in a small way.
For my part, I have enjoyed working on the subcommittee and getting to know my colleagues at HMAAC and fellow Community Service Project members: Monica Rhodes, the AAM 2011 Local Conference Coordinator; Trudi Smith from the Buffalo Bayou Partnership; and Reginald Adams from the Museum of Cultural Arts Houston. I am looking forward to working with the artists and helping HMAAC realize its mission. I think it will be a wonderful activity to kick off the AAM conference. It will put us off on the right foot and remind us all of the reason we are so passionate about museums– because they engage us, bring us together and give us a sense of community and purpose.
To participate in AAM Community Service Project, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 713.353.1570 by May 15. Remember – EVERYONE is welcome!
Associate Curator and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Curatorial Fellow,
Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston;
member of the AAM 2011 Public Arts & Programming Subcommittee & Community Service Project Task Force