The Transart Foundation

New Events

to May 13

Inauguration Events

Contemporary Casta Portraiture: Nuestra “Calidad”, by Delilah Montoya
April 11 - May 13
Exhibition Viewing Wednesday - Sunday 1 pm to 5 pm

Montoya’s “casta” portraiture critiques as it mimics the Spanish colonial Casta Paintings’ depiction of social hierarchy based on the complex racial mixing of that era’s family groups.  Montoya’s present-day portraits of Houston and New Mexico colonial families also capture subjects among material objects. However, instead of using colonial labels like mulatto or mestizo to describe bloodlines she presents their ethno-racial mixes by juxtaposing each family’s portrait with their unique DNA regional ancestry graph and a global map showing their 100,000 years migration.  To complete the portrait, each family recorded a monologue about their DNA study and family history.  Montoya’s series manifests cultural and biological forms of hybridity in order to understand the impact of race and class distinctions on social, economic and aesthetic choices in the United States today.

 photo by Delilah Montoya

photo by Delilah Montoya

Nuestra “Calidad” Round Table Discussion
April 7th, 7:00pm

Tomas Ybarra-Frausto moderates discussions by scholars Holly Barnet Sanchez, Mia Lopez, Delilah Montoya and Surpik Angelini of their essays from the catalog Contemporary Casta Portraiture: Nuestra “Calidad” published by Arte Público Press 2017. Catalogs will be available for sale.

“Patronas y Conductas”  Performance by Elia Arce
April 13 & 14 at 8pm

In collaboration with CounterCurrent Festival, Elia Arce will present her new performance, “Patronas y Conductas”. Inspired from a play on the Spanish words “patrones y conductas,” which literally translates to “patterns and behaviors”. In its feminine version, Patronas y Conductas, Elia addresses the norms imposed by employers in the work setting. The performance provides insights to the dynamics of labor relationships.

Elia is an international performance artist and UH alumnus, creates new work, in collaboration with Houston community members.  “Patronas y Conductas” responds to the exhibition and ethnographic art project, Contemporary Casta Portraiture: Nuestra “Calidad,” by Delilah Montoya, a Chicana Artist and UH professor.  Both the exhibition and performance address the “New World global community paradigm” dealing with themes of identity, colonial power struggles, family history, the optic-unconscious, and biogeographic ethnography.  All events are free to the public.

Ticket for Elia’s Performance available at the Counter Current Festival website

presented by the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts



Delilah Montoya

Chicana Artist, Delilah Montoya grounds in the experiences of the Southwest and brings together a multiplicity of syncretic forms and practices from those of Aztec, Mexico and Spain, to cross-border vernacular traditions, all of which are shaded by contemporary American customs and values.Montoya's numerous projects investigate cultural phenomena, always addressing and often confronting viewers' assumptions.

Women Boxers: The New Warriors, a book project featuring a collection of portraits is such a project. Funded in part by the University of Houston Small Grants Program and Cultural Arts Council of Houston and Harris County and was published though Arte Publico Press. The work was first exhibited during Fotofest 2006 at Project Row House, and later it traveled to Los Angeles, Santa Fe and Dallas where Charles Dee Mitchell reviewed it for Art in America.
Montoya's work has traveled with the International Center for Photography exhibition "Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self" and "Arte Latino: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum."

Her work is included in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institute, Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.   She received 2008 Artadia Award and was honor with
Richard T. Castro Distinguished Visiting Professorship in 2009.  Her gallery affiliations are Andrew Smith Gallery, and Photographs Do Not Bend.

Elia Arce

Elia Arce is an artist working in a wide variety of media, including installation, performance, experimental theater, writing, photo, video, sculptural performance and social sculpture. Winner of the J. Paul Getty Award, Rockefeller Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, National Performance Network National Endowment Fund Award, Durfee Individual Artist Award. Arce was nominated for the Herb Alpert / CalArts Award in Theater and awarded a scholarship by the Ford Foundation to develop a proposal for a new social sculpture project entitled Gulf Coast Art Corridor.

In 2010 she received a Fulbright scholarship to teach a semester of Performance Art at the Theater School of the National University of Costa Rica. She has taught at different universities in the United States and Costa Rica and has taught performance workshops in Mexico, Brazil, Mali, Spain, Cuba and Canada. Arce was the winner of the American Masterpiece Award in 2010 and was invited to the Bamako Photography Biennale in Mali where she exhibited her work at the Multimedia Arts Conservatory. She was invited to the International Festival of the Arts of Costa Rica in 2012 and in 2014, where she presented a short retrospective of her work of photo performance, video performance and sculptural performance. The National University of Costa Rica and its Chamber Dance Company commissioned her an original work in 2012. She designed and choreographed "Río Pirro", a piece performed inside one of the most polluted rivers in the city.

As a teacher, she taught Visual Arts in Choreography within the Master's Program of the Dance Department UNA and a Performance Laboratory and Flashmobs at the School of Performing Arts of the University of Costa Rica. Arce won the prestigious Iberescena scholarship given jointly with Costa Rica and Spain to develop a new body of work in collaboration with his Spanish colleague Orlando Britto: a research on decolonization and towards the creation of a new social sculpture.

Arce is the founder and artistic director of USEKRA: Center for Creative Investigation, which she is creating in the Caribbean area of osta Rica, where artists, academics, anthropologists, sociologists, biologists and other international thinkers; will meet to challenge each other and create art and thought that question the existing standards from an Indigenous, Afro-descendant and / or Asian perspective; cultures that are the pillars of the Talamanca región.
Currently a book about Arce´s work, edited by PHD Anabelle Contreras Castro, is being published by the Hemisferic Institute of Performance and Politics from New York University.


Production of these events, catalog, and artwork were funded by the generous support from The Transart Foundation for Art and Anthropology, Cynthia Wood Mitchell Center for the Arts, Hatch Fund, UH CMAS Seed Grant, The Idea Fund, Artadia 2015 ISCP New York Residency and the 2013 & 2017 University of Houston Small Grant.

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