Awardee: Jamal Cyrus

Visual Arts, 2008

Jamal Cyrus (born 1973, Houston, TX) lives and works in Houston. He received his BFA from the University of Houston in 2004 and his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008. In 2005 he attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He was an Artist in Residence at Artpace San Antonio and has won several awards, including the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, the Artadia Houston Award and the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship. He has participated in national and international exhibitions, including Day for Night, the 2006 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and shows at the Station Museum in Houston (2004); The Office Baroque Gallery in Antwerp (2007); the Menil Collection in Houston (2007); The High Museum of Art, Atlanta; The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington DC; The California African American Museum, Los Angeles (all 2008); The Kitchen in New York (2009); the Museum of London Docklands, London (2009); The New Museum, New York (2011); The Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (2012); and the Studio Museum, Harlem (2013). His work has been reviewed in Artlies, The Houston Chronicle, Houston Magazine, and The New York Times.

Project: The People's Plate

Through a collaborative art project/public health program, Otabenga Jones & Associates will attempt to mitigate the ongoing health crisis of obesity and its related risks. The Collective will create a public mural at the Lawndale Art Center along with a series of adjacent programs, kicking off a year-long commitment to health education. Programs will include cooking classes, a foraging workshop, an urban gardening workshop, an instructional cooking video and a line of mass produced lunchboxes that will be made available to the public. Inspired by the Black Panther Free Breakfast for School Children Program, which saw the Panthers cooking and serving breakfast to poor inner city children, the Collective aims to provide at-risk community members with a set of tools that will encourage self-sufficiency and empowerment in terms of maintaining their own health through food choices while building community. The graphic identity of the project, including the Lawndale mural and lunch kits for kids, will incorporate iconic imagery by graphic artist and Black Panther Minister of Culture Emory Douglas.

Collab: Otabenga Jones & Associates

Otabenga Jones & Associates is a Houston-based educational art organization founded in 2002 by artist and educator Otabenga Jones in collaboration with members Dawolu Jabari Anderson, Jamal Cyrus, Kenya Evans and Robert A. Pruitt, among others. The group’s pedagogical mission, manifested in the form of actions, writings and installations, is threefold: to underscore the challenging intricacies of representation across the African Diaspora; to establish a cross generational progression emanating from the transatlantic experience; and, as they write in their mission statement, quoting from Sam Greenlee’s 1969 classic satirical novel The Spook Who Sat by the Door, “to mess wit’ whitey.”