For the past three semesters, University of Houston sculpture artists have been forced to work in virtual isolation. After a year of canceled exhibitions, limited studio access and online-only classes, the 22 students prevailed and now present an exhibition titled Annex Energy.
Annex Energy is a tribute to the resilience of the UH sculpture program during the time of COVID-19. SITE Gallery Houston at Sawyer Yards, 1502 Sawyer St., is displaying the exhibit through Aug. 19. It is free and open to the public.
“Annex Energy was named to recognize the UH School of Art graduates and current students who have contributed so much to the Houston art scene since the explosive energy of the Lawndale Annex, to the South Park Annex and now the new building at Elgin Street Studios,” said Michelle Matthews, organizer and a sculpture graduate student.
SITE Gallery Houston, maybe one of the most unusual exhibit spaces in Houston, is situated inside the massive grain silos at Sawyer Yards. The space practically begs for a full sensory installation - art, film, sound and video. The UH sculpture students have done an amazing job utilizing the space.
When I saw that Tiffany A. Nesbit was one of the 22 students in the exhibition, I jumped at the chance to ask her all about the exhibit and her installation. Nesbit recently began showcasing her ceramics at my Market at Sawyer Yards, which is underneath the silos on second Saturdays.
Nesbit was born in New Orleans and grew up nearby getting the best of both country and city life. She comes from a family of creatives, too.
“I came to Houston in 2019 specifically for the (master of fine arts) program at the University of Houston,” Nesbit said. “I've got to say, I really appreciate the city and what it has given me so far. The art scene is a weird collaboration between street art and academia, which is so perfect and what I needed to see for my own practice.”
Art Valet: Explain what Annex Energy is all about.
Nesbit: “Annex Energy is a sort of shout-out to our old sculpture building at UH South Park Annex, and the artists that gave energy to the space. We are all tremendously grateful for our new space on Elgin, but there’s something about having an old funky building to give love and attention to, which I think all of UH sculpture peeps did and are passing it on to Elgin.”
AV: What is your installation about and what inspired you?
Nesbit: “The wagon installation is part of the body of work Serious Traits. Being back in Louisiana for a few months I realized why I am so attracted to specific color pallets, patterns and forms of botany. I also realized why I am so attracted to specific personality traits and characteristics of both humans and animals, and how they interact with each other in given situations, how living organisms react being in constant survival mode.
“The wagon hints on these ideas, but dives deeper into an almost nostalgic setting, with childlike playful interactions,” Nesbit continued. “The makeshift wagon holds home to intricate vessel forms being tied together with ropes on top of an old rabbit cage as if they were collected on a journey, perhaps roaming out in the woods or bayou. There are larger collections of bundles on the floor surrounding the wagon and hanging from the entrance of the silo that speaks a similar language. The roof shingles are plopped on the floor, wrapping around the silo and lead the viewer to the projection of two films on the silo wall. The films play in rotation describing the landscape where these magical vessels could have been collected.”
AV: What were your thoughts about working in SITE Gallery?
Nesbit: “The SITE Gallery could not have been a better place for this installation. It certainly taps into otherworldly, which is exactly what the work needed. The acoustics throughout the silos made it work, too. You could hear every footstep, water drip, the ceramics when they tinked together, the echo of the bird howls in the films. The curves and the grungy industrial surface of the silos wall enhanced the projections. It wouldn’t feel right if they were projected on a smooth, freshly painted surface.”
Nesbit works full-time at her art, supplementing her income with markets, galleries, shops and teaching. Her website is tiffanyangelnesbit.com and follow her on Instagram.com/tiffanyangelstudioartist.
Annex Energy artists include Nesbit along with Jen Barker, Daniel Calderon, Cat Davila, Noelle Dunahoe, Marley Foster, Nicolas Herrera, Randi Long, Jacinta Majithia, Blaize Marshall, Michelle Matthews, Cheyenne Nevins, Katie Patzke, Brenna Rogers, Stevie Spurgin, William VB, Jimena Vilchis, Michelle Vo, Debbie Vu, Marie Williams, Erick Zambrano and Gustavo Alejandro Solorzano Aparicio.
Regular hours for Annex Energy were not announced before this went to press, but I’m certain it will be open Saturday in the afternoon during Second Saturday Open Studios. Check events at SawyerYards.com for updated details and a map.
Cohen is an artist and founder of the First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at ArtValet.com for additional highlights and artist’s stories.