08:45 AM

Acclaimed 'upcycling' artist leads two cultural arts events at UHCL

Acclaimed Houston artist Charles Washington, whose eponymous retrospective exhibition is currently featured in University of Houston-Clear Lake's Art Gallery, is the focus of two upcoming cultural arts events: an "artist's talk" presentation to be held virtually and in-person Thursday, March 11 at 6 p.m. in the Bayou Theater, and a public art workshop on Saturday, March 13 at 10 a.m., at the Arbor North Building lawn. Participants are invited to join him in painting benches, which will be placed throughout the UH-Clear Lake campus when completed.

Washington's exhibition explores his 42-year career as an artist, much of it while living in Houston. Washington said he is proud to call himself an "upcycle" artist with a particular fascination with doors.

"Of all my media, the doors were my favorite medium to work with," Washington said. "You either go into something or you come out. I used doors when I didn't have any other materials. The doors are a way of interacting. You will be able to do the same if you come to the event."

He added that it's his goal to someday look back over his career and be able to say he's created 1,000 door projects.

He said his presentation will not only focus on his style as an artist, but he will also speak about his influence and culture.

"I'm from the Carolinas," he explained. "I have a closer relationship spiritually from Africa, and my ancestors were brought to the Carolinas. My culture comes out through my work. It makes me feel closer to the continent of Africa. To be able to reclaim our intelligence and who we are, which had been taken from us, we are reclaiming that. This is my journey."

Over the course of his decades-long career, Washington said one piece was the most significant to him.

"A must-see piece is 'The Blanket,' which is symbolic of a time decades ago when I was homeless in Houston," he said. "There are still people who are homeless and uncertain and struggling to get beyond where they are. 'The Blanket' symbolizes that."

UHCL's Cultural Arts Director Eric Despard described Washington's multi-media upcycled work as stunning, dynamic, powerful, and moving. "Many of his pieces are inspired by jazz and similar to a jazz musician. He is continually evolving and refining his artistic voice," he said.

Washington's exhibition in UHCL's Art Gallery runs through March 19.

Both events are free and open to the public. Washington's artist talk will be streamed on Zoom. The bench-painting event will be outdoors, socially distanced, with masks required. Materials will be provided.

Learn more about UHCL's Art Gallery and Charles Washington's events online.