The Homeplace Aesthetic: Finding Black Pasts and Seeking Black Futures in Bottom Land
A Lecture by Dr. Andrea Roberts
Art League Houston is pleased to host 'The Homeplace Aesthetic: Finding Black Pasts and Seeking Black Futures in Bottom Land' a lecture by Dr. Andrea Roberts organized by Nathaniel Donnett in conjunction with the artist's exhibition 'In One Form or Another; Verse One' currently on view at Art League Houston.
Within the American landscape, Black vernacular placemaking manifests as spatialized self-determination, intentional design, self-making, and protest. Presently, popular film and TV (i.e., Queen Sugar) express African Americans’ persistent desire to simultaneously return to self-determined, rural settlements while retaining a foothold in urban meccas pregnant with both danger and opportunity. Dr. Andrea Roberts’ research documents and assesses the relevance of rural exodus and return to Black Texas settlements called freedom colonies. Between Juneteenth and the beginning of the Great Depression, Black Texans founded more than 540 freedom colonies. Dr. Roberts partners with grassroots preservationists, descendants of freedom colony founders, who simultaneously call Houston and rural East Texas settlements their homes. Her ethnographic research documents baby boomers’ complex, gendered and raced preservation practices. Of specific concern to Dr. Roberts are descendant communities’ unique approaches to homestead preservation which she calls The Homeplace Aesthetic—the practice of preserving place, reproducing identity, and fostering belonging through commemoration, interior design, and land-based heritage. She concludes the presentation by discussing the implications of the Homeplace Aesthetic for freedom colonies in “bottom land” after Hurricane Harvey.
ABOUT DR. ROBERTS
Native Texan, Andrea Roberts is Assistant Professor Urban Planning and Faculty Fellow of the Center for Heritage Conservation at Texas A &M University. She is also the founder of the Texas Freedom Colonies Project. Her work is concerned with spatial justice, place preservation, planning history, and cultural agency within vulnerable African American communities. She has written about social justice, intersectionality, and historic preservation for the National Trust’s Preservation Leadership Forum and African American placemaking for Places Journal and The Journal of Planning History. Current projects include a book about African American historic preservation practice as a form of resistance and a statewide digital humanities initiative dedicated to making disappearing historic Black settlements visible to policymakers and descendants. From 2016-17, Andrea was an Emerging Scholar Fellow at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin School of Architecture. She holds a Ph.D. in Community and Regional Planning with a specialization in historic preservation and African Diaspora studies from The University of Texas at Austin (UT), an MA in Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania (2006), and a BA in Political Science from Vassar College (1996). She brings to her scholarship 12 years’ experience in community and economic development throughout the US including with the City of Houston and Philadelphia.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Nathaniel Donnett lives and works in Houston, Texas and studied at Texas Southern University. Donnett is the founder of the website blog «Not That But This». which was funded by a 2015 Idea Fund /Andy Warhol Foundation Grant, 2017 Houston Arts Alliance Individual Artist Grant, 2015 Houston Downtown Vehicular Wayfinding Signs Project public art commission. Donnett has also received the 2014 Harpo Foundation Grant, 2011 Houston Arts Alliance Individual Artist Grant, 2011 Idea Fund/Andy Warhol Foundation Grant, 2010 Artadia Award. He’s exhibited at The American Museum, Washington, DC, The Kemper Contemporary Arts Museum, Kansas City, MO, The Theresa Hotel, Harlem, NY, Harvey B Gantt Art Center for African American Arts and Culture, Charlotte, NC, The Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury CT, The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX, Project Row Houses, Houston, TX, Texas Southern University Museum, Houston, TX, The New Museum, NY, NY, The National Museum in Lima, Peru and The Modern Museum of Peru.
Nathaniel Donnett is a recipient of an Individual Artist Grant Award. This grant is funded by the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance.
This exhibition is generously sponsored in part by Linda Darke and Greg Shannon.