Trenton Doyle Hancock
In the fall of 1982 the Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, launched the Core Program. An artists' residency, created to address a void both within the school and in the larger art community, the Core Program was conceived as a laboratory for young artists, offering studio space in which residents could spend up to two years devoting themselves to research and development.
In the fall of 1982 the Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, launched the Core Program. An artists´ residency, created to address a void both within the school and in the larger art community, the Core Program was conceived as a laboratory for young artists, offering studio space in which residents could spend up to two years devoting themselves to research and development. Under the leadership of Allan Hacklin, the program was designed to be an open, critical environment, without academic structures, where visiting artists, curators, and critics would have access to the studios, while at the same time offering the artists in residence access to the larger art world. Key to the success of the program, however, was the interaction among the resident artists themselves. For many of these residents, the Core Program was an important step toward recognition and independence, or as former Core Fellow Santiago Cucullu has stated: "It was here that my studio practice and the nuts and bolts of working as an artist developed. . . . I learned that it was I myself who had the last word."
Within a decade of its founding, the Core Program had become an internationally recognized platform, drawing artists from around the world to Houston. Joseph Havel took over the administration of the program in 1991and direction of the Glassell School of Art in 1995; as the program matured, it evolved in response to the growing globalization of the contemporary scene. In 1998 new fellowships were created to promote critical writing, drawing to Houston writers whose talents and ambitions matched those of the resident artists. Today artists, writers, and visitors to the program come together for a free exchange of ideas and to create what Havel has called "a community of thinkers," generating dialogues through their visual and written works that speak to the aesthetic, social, and political concerns of our times.
Throughout the years the MFAH has maintained a warm and active relationship with the Core Program. Beginning in 1989, the museum launched a significant effort to collect works by Core Fellows, both during their residencies and into their subsequent careers. Works by Core Fellows in the museum´s permanent collection now number over 160 examples, ranging from intimate and informal sketches to landmark sculptures, paintings, photographs, installations, and videos.
Learning by Doing: 25 Years of the Core Program profiles the experimental nature of the program, charting its evolution through the production of its artists. Among the featured artists will be Mark Allen, David Aylsworth, Amy Blakemore, Danny Yahav-Brown, Sharon Engelstein, Francesca Fuchs, David Fulton, DeWitt Godfrey, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Julie Mehretu, Michael Miller, Katrina Moorhead, Demetrius Oliver, Karyn Olivier, Shazia Sikander, and Robert Ziebell.
Image: Aaron Parazette, Soft Night, 1996
Museum of Fine Arts
1001 Bissonnet Street - Houston