Otabenga Jones & Associates The People's Plate

2014 Lawndale Mural Project

February 28, 2014 – January 10, 2015 North Exterior Wall

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 People’s Plate is a project of Creative Capital.

Artist Bios

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.”

D. Jabari Anderson is a founding member of Otabenga Jones & Associates and an artist who creates mixed media drawings on handmade paper. He is a graduate of Texas Southern University and has exhibited extensively in and around Houston.

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.

A native of North Carolina, Kenya Evans works in the media of painting, drawing, sculpture, and audio installations. He is a founding member of Otabenga Jones & Associates, with whom he works regularly on exhibitions, radio broadcasts, and curatorial projects.

Robert A. Pruitt was born in 1975, in Houston Texas, where he is still primarily based as an artist. He studied and earned degrees from Texas Southern University and The University of Texas in Austin, focusing on painting and drawing. Pruitt works in a variety of materials but his practice is chiefly centered on rendering portraits of the human body, specifically the black body. He projects onto these bodies a juxtaposing series of experiences and material references, denoting a diverse and radical black experience and future. Although Pruitt leads a steady solo practice he also pursues an active collaborative impulse. He is a founding member of a number of artist groups including Otabenga Jones & Associates, MF Problem (with his girlfriend and artist Autumn Knight), a loose collective of local Houston artists sometimes working under the name  STACKS collective and he is Co-Director of Houston Open Studio Tours.

He has exhibited his work locally, nationally and internationally, notably at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, The Dallas Museum of Art, The Bronx Museum of Art, the 2006 Whitney Biennial, and most recently a solo exhibition at the Studio Museum of Harlem.