Art Votes!

Ten art projects help get young Harris County voters, and voters of color out to vote

#HTownVotes art projects range from street theatre to documentary film, animation, performance, Spoken Word, visual art, dance and more. Projects will contribute to the collective goal of mobilizing voters in the Houston region

In October 2020, Houston in Action announced a review panel's selection of artists from several communities of focus who were interested in creating culturally-competent works with an understanding of the ways in which groups who have been historically disenfranchised from election processes. The participants comprise individual artists, collectives, and non-profit organizations from the Houston-area, LGBTQ artists, as well as artists based in Austin, Los Angeles, and Juneau. Learn more about them and their projects below, and you can find shareable versions of selected projects at htownvotes.com.

Riyaaz Qawwali will present a music and dialogue series to engage Houston’s South Asian community, to exercise its political strength this fall. Music videos will utilize the art form of qawwali to touch on issues relevant to the South Asians—such as healthcare, the pandemic, and xenophobia––and connect viewers to voter engagement resources. Preview materials will take audiences along on the journey of producing the music videos. Post-performance panel discussions, held in partnership with OCA Greater Houston and Emgage Texas, will be held to further explore civic issues, and inspire Houston’s South Asian community to participate in this November’s election.

Writer’s Block & Perseverance Theatre
Folks think coast to coast is east to west, but we are connecting from the Arctic to the Southern border! This creative collaboration from Houston, Texas and Juneau, Alaska is throwing down to mobilize the vote in 2020. Through community Poetry Slams, virtual Creative Writing & Performance Workshops, we will promote civic engagement and lift up the voices of our youth, as they remind us how voting impacts their lives.

Paul Cuevas
“HTownVotes LIVE!” aims to reach music and fine art fans where they already are, online, to inform and empower. The pandemic has inextricably altered the lives of many of us who lean on the music and art scene, either as an escape or for our very livelihoods. As the diverse city that we all know and love, Houston is home to an extraordinary amount of talent, and we miss it all! Paul Cuervas will produce an online Variety Show where Houston cultures can clash, in a positive way, to showcase an array of music, performances, and visual art, to inspire Youth, Black, Latinx, and Asian American communities to vote in Harris County. The show will be broadcast on FB Live and YouTube Live in October. This event will emphasize the urgency to get out and vote, leading up to the broadcast, during the broadcast, and after it airs as people share it.

Karen Martinez
“It Takes a Friend” follows the journey of a Houston voter who has pledged to vote and shepherd 3 people to the polls. This is a multimedia project that focuses on critical aspects of voting, and how individuals impact their communities by being civically engaged. Content will be generated and posted weekly through a social media campaign with updates from participants.

Kristina Wong
“Vote for the Future” includes three short videos that will be translated with Chinese subtitles, featuring Asian American kids ages 6-13, using Kristina Wong’s trademark humor of kids talking about “adult” issues. The process of making “Vote for the Future” will involve shooting remotely, having dialogues with kids from Houston and beyond, and will yield shareable, viral media where Asian American kids encourage voter-aged Americans, especially Asian Americans, to get out the vote.

Tofu Riot, The Animated Vote
Tofu Riot will create 30 vote-themed posts on Instagram for 30 days. These posts will be iconic images with symbolism and animations to engage and encourage voting. These range from hand-drawn animations on live footage of local Houston organizers and community members, to iconic images of communities in action. Tofu Riot is collaborating with members from OCAGreaterHouston, Mi Familia Vota, and PIVOT (The Progressive Vietnamese American Organization), to share these animations and artworks on Instagram and YouTube. Additionally, Instagram will be linked to a website with the same content, with more links to learn to vote, voter education and ways to participate and encourage youth and BIPOC to vote and become active participants in civic life and social change. Visit: theanimatedvote.com

MECA (Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts) has assembled a team of artists, administrators, and communication specialists to launch a digital media campaign promoting voter turnout amongst voting age citizens. Using a popular Latinx Bingo-like game called Lotería, the team will invoke the likeness of iconic figures and uniquely American imagery to create original renderings for a re-imagined set of cards meant to educate and inspire the Latinx vote. MECA’s communications team will use the images to create memes, gifs, and videos, then employ a combination of platforms to circulate the generated content daily, including an original song emphasizing the importance of fulfilling our civic duty by voting.

Miguel Alvarez
The Voto 2020 project is a video series of five inspirational, short documentary films that look at issues affecting Latinx communities. The primary goal is to empower Latinx voices and drive Latinx participation in the upcoming election. The project is a collaboration with Mi Famila Vota. The first of these films is "Houston," about seventeen year old Houston activist, Stephanie, who has been mobilizing young voters for the last three years because she has a personal stake in this upcoming election--her parents. Voto 2020 will have short and long videos, in English and Spanish versions, for deeper education on why voting is important, as well as social media calls-to-action.

Koomah and The Locas
The Locas are a group of 4 Latinx queer women artists--Stephanie Saint Sancgez, Jennifer Marie, Melelani Petersen, and Koomah--producing interdisciplinary content merging live performance, video, spoken word, audio, visual art installation, y mas. The Locas' project is called "Try Voting!", a commercial parody PSA project. The Locas will produce 4 fun and campy creative video shorts that parody various commercial styles encouraging Houstonians to vote. These commercials will screen on TV locally and be made publicly available online.

Kemi OG
Our lives are shaped by what you see first. Black skin. We are as diverse as they come: culture, history, language, tradition, preferences, self-perception. They make us up, shape our perspectives, our dreams, how we see ourselves. Yet, our lives are shaped by what you see first. Using film, performance art, and African symbolism, choreographer and dancer Kemi OG explores perspectives, strengths, and struggles--the woman struggle, the immigrant struggle, and more. Two pieces from the project stress the need to work towards change. The first is an abstract cumulation of the obstacles and struggles black and African women face in this country and the need to stand up for what we believe in through action. The second is a closer look at the division within the diaspora and stresses the need for love and unity in the fight for equality. The goal is to produce cinematic dance visuals that can be viewed digitally, focusing on social issues and the need to vote to impact change.

United Way of Greater Houston 2020 Census Response Grant