We are excited to announce our next ARC Exhibition: Texas Red Road Project, a photography exhibit by artist Monica Villarreal (pictured to the right). Texas Red Road Project features the culture and traditions of indigenous Native Americans in Texas today through a series of portraits taken at various ceremonial events.
A native Houstonian of Mexican decent, Monica Villarreal has dedicated five years to learning the dance and ceremonies of the indigenous Aztec people. Through photography, she’s driven by her passion to reveal the beautiful splendor of Southern and Northern Native American culture.
Her work has been showcased at various events and places throughout Houston, most notably NASA, Houston Institute for Culture, FotoFest Houston, The East End Gallery, and Last Organic Outpost. Villarreal is also a recipient of an Individual Artist Grant Award, funded by the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance.
Recently, Monica answered a few of our questions about herself and her work, giving us an inside look into the artist’s perspective.
What is your biggest inspiration as an artist?
The thought of making a positive impact in peoples lives.
You’re a multi-faceted artist (dance, photography, etc). Describe your artistic process.
I’m motivated by my spirituality and love to express it through dance and other forms of art. When people see my art I want them to be able to see my spirit.
When did your passion for connecting with and showcasing indigenous cultures begin?
I’ve always been connected to my indigenous roots but was not motivated to act on it till my first visit to Mexico City in 2005. That was the first time I heard the drum and saw la Danza Azteca in person. It moved something inside of me that is unexplainable and from that moment on, my spirit was awoken.
What can people expect to see at your Texas Red Road Project exhibit?
They will be able to see the beautiful culture of Texas indigenous people. I’ve been fortunate enough to capture a Lepan Apache Coming of Age ceremony, a few Danza Azteca ceremonies and Powwows, as well as a Mexica wedding (Amare de Tilma). I also have portraits of the teachers that have spearheaded Danza Azteca in Texas.
What’s your favorite part of being an artist in Houston?
The opportunity for creating something new… This city is behind on many things compared to other big metropolitan cities. This gives artists and business people the ability to create something that the majority of the Houston population hasn’t seen before. I also enjoy the diversity this city has to offer and the ability to collaborate with such a diverse group of artists.
Besides making art, what are some of your favorite things to do?
I love to travel! I enjoy learning and being exposure to different cultures. I also enjoy learning about world wide ancient indigenous traditions. On my time off from everything I like to relax by reading a book, watching a movie, or having brunch/dinner with friends.
“Texas Red Road Project” will be on exhibition October 22 through November 13 at Spacetaker’s ARC Gallery located at Winter Street Studios (2101 Winter St, Houston, TX 77007). Please join us at the Opening Reception on Friday, October 22 from 6 to 8 p.m.
[photo above: "Untitled" by Monica Villarreal]