Saturday, November 4, 2023
8x5 Houston: Artists Respond to Mass Incarceration in the US
Presented by Art at a Time Like This
FREE, Drop-in 1-3pm | View Mobile Billboard Truck outside of Welcome House
In November, Art at a Time Like This will launch 8x5 Houston, a public intervention with artworks responding to the mass incarceration crisis. Displayed on ten billboards and four mobile billboard trucks throughout the city, the project will run from November 4th to November 30th. Visit the Rothko Chapel on Saturday, November 4, 1-3pm to view the mobile billboard truck.
8x5 Houston is named for the size of the average prison cell. These works come at a critical moment in the future of criminal justice in Harris County, with nearly 40 people dying in the local jail in the last two years. Artists–key participants in preserving democracy–are vitally concerned with this issue; many of them have come from first-hand experience with injustice and the incarceration system.
The billboards were designed by artists known nationally and regionally. Mel Chin, Trenton Doyle Hancock and Faylita Hicks, all born or living in Houston, as well as returning citizen Jared Owens, and activist artist Jenny Polak, were invited directly by the Art at a Time Like This organizers. Of particular note, Polak is featured in recognition of her collaboration with clients of Fortune Society, one of the oldest prison reform organizations in the U.S. In addition, artists McKenna Gessner, Monti Hill, Kill Joy, Chandrika Metivier, and El Rebo were selected from an open call that drew over 120 applications by judges Christopher Blay, Chief Curator at the Houston Museum of African American Culture, Ashley DeHoyos Sauder, Curator, DiverseWorks, Bridget Bray, independent curator, and Anne Verhallen and Barbara Pollack, founders of Art at a Time Like This. 8x5 Houston is the second edition of this project which launched in Miami in Summer of 2022.
To raise awareness and provide an outlet for community participation, 8x5 Houston will hold a panel discussion at the Houston Museum of African American Culture on November 4th at 2 PM, moderated by the museum’s Chief Curator Christopher Blay. 8x5 Houston is a collaboration with several organizations including SaveArtSpace, which helped procure the billboards, the Texas Center for Justice and Equity, the Houston Museum of African American Culture, Rothko Chapel, DiverseWorks, the Orange Show and the Art League Houston.
8x5 Houston is funded by the Brown Foundation, the Barton Family Foundation, The Prisoner Wines and several generous donors. Many thanks to art advisor Lea Weingarten and independent curator Bridget Bray for their invaluable assistance.