ARTIST INC 2024 ALUMNI

Leaugan Bernabo

PAINTER

I perceive my art as poetic expressions emanating from my personal queer perspective, breathing life into these figures with an ancestral resonance and a distinct plane of existence. In creating monochromatic series, I aimed to delve into a purgatorial realm, a collage of my perception of the beyond and the intricate tapestry that lies between the mundane facets of everyday life. The astral environments envisioned in this series embody a space where ceremonial events are perpetually suspended, an eternal standstill.

My inspiration is drawn from the immortal essence of objects and sacred iconography utilized in various ceremonies—water for baptism, sage for cleansing—contemplating how these objects intertwine to birth new meanings. In this series, I deliberately employed mixed grays to craft a shadow of memory, an existence that lingers indefinitely. Beauty, love, and spirituality guide my journey into this world of expression.

Jesse Brown

ILLUSTRATOR & GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Jesse Brown is an artist and graphic designer. Through his artistic alias YISHAII, his work explores afrofuturistic and surrealistic themes that spark imagination and innovation and intertwines historical and modern culture within the Black Diaspora. He has participated in various art shows and exhibitions including the national Black Boy Art Show and the RAW Artists Showcase.

Karla Cisneros

WATERCOLOR

My artwork reflects my passion for the environment, community, and storytelling. Through my watercolor paintings, I aim to capture the beauty of the natural world and the connections between people and their surroundings. My diverse background in marine ecology, architecture, teaching, and public service has shaped my artistic perspective and influences the themes I explore in my work. I am grateful for the opportunity to pursue my artistic career full-time and to share my creative expression with the vibrant artist community in Houston. I hope that my art will inspire others to appreciate the fleeting moments of life, to cherish our environment, and to embrace the power of storytelling through visual art.

Sonya Cuellar

VISUAL ARTIST

Embracing the vibrant world of abstract art, I am an abstract and mixed media artist deeply rooted in my Mexican American heritage. Crafting mixed media pieces that transcend conventional boundaries, I draw inspiration from poetry, song lyrics, and impactful quotes to infuse each piece with layers of meaning and emotion.

My passion for color is a central theme in my creations. Through a vibrant palette, I seek to evoke a profound sense of connection and resonance with the observer. With my literary infused pieces, I hope to draw the viewer in closer to the canvas. I aim to tell a story with each piece I create.

Through my work, I aspire to create a space where stories unfold, emotions resonate, and the essence of my Mexican American roots becomes a vibrant thread in the tapestry of contemporary art.

Anne-Bénédicte Houang

VISUAL STORYTELLING

Anne-Bénédicte Houang (she/her/hers) is a photographer, storyteller, and educator based in Houston, Texas. She uses photography as a universal language and a collaborative tool for empowerment, reflection, and research, driven by a sincere commitment to use her craft as a conduit for social change. In recognition of her compassionate approach to the arts, Anne was nominated as the 2022 Visual Arts Artist of the Year by Compassionate Houston. She has also received support from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance for the Arts.

Melissa Jo

VISUAL ARTS

Melissa Jo (b. 1991) is a Houston-based multidisciplinary artist with a BFA in Painting from Florida Atlantic University. Known for her elaborate compositions blending saturated multicolored figures, typography, rhythmic textural forms, Melissa’s work is inspired by her love for R&B Soul music and music media. Exploring themes of love, sensuality, and self-discovery, her art aims to evoke emotions, nostalgia, and spark connections. Whether through painting, murals, or sculptures, Melissa invites viewers on a visual and emotional journey through vibrant storytelling.

Christopher Joubert

ABSTRACT ARTIST

Chris Joubert (He /Him) is a contemporary artist currently based in Houston, Texas, drawing inspiration from the city’s vibrant culture and diverse community. Originally from the Bay Area, San Francisco, Chris’s artistic journey has been shaped by his upbringing in a melting pot of creativity and innovation.

While Chris did not pursue formal art education beyond high school, he has embraced a self-taught approach to his craft, immersing himself in the world of art through independent study and hands-on experimentation. Guided by his passion for self-expression, Chris has honed his skills over the years, drawing inspiration from the eclectic mix of influences found in his surroundings.

One of the unique aspects of Chris’s artistic expression is his focus on abstract impressionism, where he explores the interplay of color, form, and emotion on raw canvas. Through gestural brushwork and spontaneous mark-making, Chris creates dynamic compositions that invite viewers to immerse themselves in the depths of his imagination.

Driven by a desire to explore themes of identity, community, and social change, Chris’s art serves as a catalyst for conversation and reflection. Through his work, he seeks to challenge perceptions and inspire empathy, inviting viewers to engage with the world from new perspectives.

Looking to the future, Chris is committed to expanding his artistic practice and sharing his work with a wider audience. He dreams of establishing himself as a recognized artist within the contemporary art scene, using his platform to advocate for social justice and positive change. Ultimately, Chris hopes to create art that sparks dialogue and fosters connections between people from all walks of life.

Hannah Mitchell Lowery

FLORISTRY

Hannah Mitchell Lowery (she/her/hers) is a folk art florist specializing in site-specific botanical set pieces. Her designs center strange, beautiful elements from a client’s heritage, life or dreams, and are often geographically or aesthetically niche.

Donna Magna

MIXED MEDIA

Donna Magana is a mixed media artist specializing in decorative portraiture. Her newest work combines traditional portraits with bold color and whimsical collage resulting in imagery that evokes a sense of beauty and wonder. Donna completed her education in Huntsville Texas at Sam Houston State University. Her major area of study was journalism with a minor in art and an emphasis on graphic design. While Donna always created art, she enjoyed a successful corporate career in publishing, helping secondary students create yearbooks and teaching graphic design and journalism. In 2024 she transitioned to become a full-time artist and has enjoyed creating and showing her art in the Houston area. Donna is inspired by artists Franz Marc, Kathy Womak and Karina Llergo. She enjoys traveling with her husband and is on a mission to visit all the world’s best art museums. Donna likes to sculpt, sew and works with oil pastels, watercolor, acrylic, oil and gouache paints. She volunteer teaches for ArtReach, and is affiliated with Fresh Arts and the Mid America Arts Alliance. In 2024 she was honored to be chosen to participate in the Artist Inc. program sponsored by Fresh Arts Houston.

Venessa Monokian

FINE ART

On a nature walk during a visit to Miami, my hometown, I found myself in what I can only describe as a magical fairy forest. Lush and green, with light streaming in to illuminate miles and miles of heart shaped vines coating everything. The vine enveloped every bush, palm, and even climbed to the top of the trees. What initially felt magical started to feel odd. I didn’t recognize this vine from my childhood, and its loving embrace seemed to be suffocating. I later learned that this was an invasive species called air potato vine (Dioscorea bulbifera). In reality, the vine was choking everything in its path.

This vine has found its way, not just to South Florida, but also to my new home in southeastern Texas. Invasive species like this one are often cultivated because of their beauty. When misplaced they kill the native plants and throw off a natural balance.

Standing within the miles and miles of vines, reflecting on how this one plant has impacted both of my current home spaces, I felt truly overwhelmed. I began to photograph the vine, unsure of what these images would become. After printing, I cut most of the photograph away, isolating the vine and its victim. Colorizing the shadow areas of the image where the air potato vine is positioned to highlight it. I deliberately picked a neon pink color due to the unnatural tone, acting as a toxic visual marker. The visual effect is similar to my own first reaction to the air potato. One of awe and enchantment of its beauty. The work lures and guides the viewer to think more deeply about their relationship to nature and the negative impact humans can have on it.

This work helped me build a strong connection, not only with the environment in my newer home of Texas, but between Texas and the place I grew up, South Florida. Miami and Houston are coastal cities, each affected by hurricanes, humidity, and the effects of humans on the natural terrain. Here, I found myself, more strongly than ever before, pulled to think about more than just my immediate surroundings.

With As the Grow Glows, the aim is to examine the fragility of our ecosystems while also looking at the ways we are rooted in our homes through familiar landscapes.

Hope Mora

PHOTOGRAPHY

Hope Mora is a photographer currently splitting her time between Houston and West Texas. Her work is an ongoing exploration of how the dynamic between hard labor and resilience is sustained within communities, specifically in her hometown Pecos, Texas. Mora’s research looks into working life, regional culture, economy, and ideas of home. She documents how communities joyfully celebrate their lives through family, food, music, dance, and fashion using photography, video, sound, and text. Mora’s work has been commissioned by The New Yorker, Vogue, The Texas Tribune, and more.

Jocelyn Nguyen

MULTIDISCIPLINARY: PERFORMANCE & FILM

As an actress, I not only perform on screen but also take charge behind the camera to produce and direct short films. I am drawn to an aesthetic driven by daredevilry, fashion, music, and visual storytelling. My work is inspired by the desire to encourage people to be brave and live in their truth to pursue their dreams passionately. I believe that with hard work and faith, anything is possible. Through my artistic practice, I challenge the Asian stereotypes and advocate for the representation of women in film, pioneering my way as a Vietnamese woman in American entertainment. I aim to create transformative, contemporary, and inspiring videos, where the art I create is a guiding light toward the future we hope to live in. I lead with resilience, grace, power, and unapologetic love.

Kelly Penrod

MIXED MEDIA

I’m Kelly Penrod, a self-taught artist and creativity coach driven by the transformative potential of everyday materials. My artistic journey began when a teacher doubted my abilities, spurring me to defy limitations and explore creativity’s boundless realm. Central to my practice is the repurposing of discarded items like cardboard and bottles, infusing them with new life and meaning.

By melding recycled materials with technology, I blend traditional techniques with contemporary innovation, challenging artistic norms. My art is a fluid exploration, pushing boundaries and defying categorization. Through my work, I strive to inspire others to embrace their creativity, regardless of perceived constraints. My ultimate aim is to ignite curiosity and empower individuals to embark on their own creative odysseys. I envision a world where diverse expressions are celebrated, and creativity flourishes in every corner of society.

Kaelyn Provost

VISUAL ARTIST

Kaelyn Provost is a visual artist from Houston, Texas, who creates abstract and figurative works using oil paint and pastels. Her pieces call for the practice of self-restoration to improve our physical, spiritual, and communal well-being. She experiments with light, composition, and color theory to reflect the “as within, so without” nature of the conscious and subconscious body. Provost received her BFA in Studio Art at Texas State University. From June 8th, to August 3rd, 2024, her first solo exhibition, Looking for Illume, will be on view at the Julia C. Butridge Gallery in Austin, TX.

Carla Romero

MULTIDISCIPLINARY ARTIST

Carla Romero AKA Whitney Screwston, is a Salvadorian American disc jockey, photographer and event producer who has broken into the Texas & NYC scene thanks to her musical taste and talent. This Texas bred southern creative uses an open format style to effortlessly flow between dembow, dancehall, amapiano, ballroom, R&B and hip hop to get the audience moving. Her DJ sets prioritize women in music, honoring their legacies and contributions by cultivating community at her events. Carla’s creative practice is where photography, collage, music, and performance intersect, focusing on intentional collaborations to help serve her communities.

Cheryl Russell

PAINTER

I am an interdisciplinary artist with a focus on figurative expressionism working in oil. While I truly enjoy the physicality of expressionism, my artistic interests also include book making, watercolor, printmaking, photography, and other mediums that often play a role in my main body of work. My painting explores color, dramatic mark making, and symbolism. My portraits include an inconspicuous rune or symbol and my other works often incorporate underpainting with words and symbols. The distinguishing mark of my artwork can be seen in the juxtaposition between the colorful, loose, gestural marks and the refinement of detail to bring the subject to life.

Ultimately my work is about emotion – the experience of a given moment in time. It is both personal and political and always a careful reflection of the emotions revealed in my subjects. I find inspiration in the work of great and rebellious women artists: Lee Krasner’s abstracted symbols, Alice Neel’s emotive scrutiny, and Jenny Saville’s bold use of color and mark making.

We carry not only the anger and pain of fresh wounds—losing our rights, our humanity, before our eyes—but also the rage of our foremothers and the wave of hope and determination of contemporary culture. We are in a pivotal moment of our struggle against systemic patriarchy. Facing battles to uphold Roe v. Wade, we are being crushed under the weight of an emboldened patriarchal force. My work tributes the fierce response to the deliberate and methodical erasure of women’s rights and is a means of continuing this dialogue. Art can touch us, reach us in places within that mere words cannot.

Cora Salvino

FUSED GLASS ART

As a glass artist, I am captivated by the dance of light and color within the transparent depths of glass. I strive to capture the ephemeral beauty of the world around me and distill it into vibrant tactile creations. Through my work, I invite viewers to pause, reflect, and find beauty in the unexpected. In a world fraught with chaos and uncertainty, may my creations serve as a beacon of light, a reminder of the inherent wonder that surrounds us, waiting to be discovered. Glass brings me joy. I seek to share that joy with the world.

Julie Sorensen

MUSICIAN & CONDUCTOR

Artist Bio

Mr. Pedro Torres

VISUAL ARTS: SCULPTURE

My name is Mr. Pedro. I was born in Puerto Rico and at 6, I moved to Houston. At the age of 19, I made a pivotal decision to attend welding school, igniting a passion that would shape my life. As I learned the craft of welding, I discovered its artistic potential, birthing my first piece of metal art and opening a new creative avenue for exploration.

Now, 18 years later, I’ve evolved into a seasoned professional welder and fitter, where precision is paramount, and mistakes are not an option. I seamlessly channel this precision into my artwork, infusing each piece with meticulous detail and craftsmanship.

For me, art is more than just expression—it’s a release, a way to share my innermost thoughts and emotions. If my creations resonate with even one person, offering solace or inspiration, then I’ve achieved my goal as an artist.

Laura Ubaté

NARRATIVE PODCASTS

Laura Ubaté (she/her) is a bilingual audio storyteller and one of the leaders of the podcasting industry in Spanish. Formerly a radio personality, her work as been featured in non-fiction podcasts by Spotify, Adonde Media, BBC World, and others. Laura founded Colombia’s first podcast community. She has also mentored latinx creators. Winner of two artist fellowships, her next podcast, “Juventud Maldito Vacío,” premieres in October 2024.

Rocio Vazquez

VISUAL ARTIST

I’m Rocio Vazquez, a visual artist from Houston, Texas. I specialize in illustrations, revolving my signature skeleton character. I work in various mediums, from digital to physical art, and love exploring diverse themes. In addition to illustrations, I have a passion for painting and crafting, including making colorful piñatas. My goal is to create artwork that resonates with people and celebrates our shared humanity. 

2024 Artist INC Application Selection Panel:

LeAndre Douglas (Dancer, 2022 Artist INC Alum, Fresh Arts’ Artist Advisory Committee), Brian Ellison (Creative Coach at Project Row Houses), Nicolle LaMere, Mehek Ahmed (Visual Artist, Fresh Arts’ Artist Advisory Committee).