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"In Residence: Work by 2012 Resident Artists" Unlike a university's commencement festivities, "In Residence: Work by 2012 Resident Artists." is no corps of hundreds crossing the stage; instead, it's an intimate celebration of the creative efforts of six well-deserving and highly talented artists. Each year, the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft selects a small number of artists to participate in its residency program. These residents work in the gallery for three to 12 months with the medium of their choice, creating a collection to be shown the following year. Clay, metal, jewelry-making and fiber were the favorites of this year's inductees, three of whom hail from Houston. Tarina Frank is a Houston artist and high school teacher who morphs metals and plastics into jewelry. Drawing on inspiration from the instant-gratification culture created by the proliferation of social media, her pieces display the best in social-media communication quips, e.g., "In a Relationship" or "It's Complicated." Her Paper Fan Rings series brings together elements of silver, nickel, brass, copper and paper (wood) to create movable rings. Each ring starts out as a piece of paper folded into the shape of a miniature Chinese lantern. Curved nickel, brass or copper is then affixed to each side of the little "lanterns." One flick of the finger and these lanterns spin, becoming baubles "full of kinetic potential." Rachelle Vasquez and Susan Fletcher King are also Houstonians. Additionally, the two are graduates of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts who both work with fiber. The similarities don't stop there: Both artists create works from this fiber that revolve around animal life. Go over each piece with a fine-tooth comb, however, and the differences appear: Vasquez stitches together colorful tapestries, while King creates quilts. Vasquez's When Winkie Comes Marching Home, despite its quirky name, is a traditional quilt with bright colors and the character of "Winkie" in the middle. In contrast, Schooling from the Jellies, made with commercial and hand-painted cotton fabric, silk and cotton threads; transparent acrylic paints; foil; and yarn, is a dark tapestry of jellyfish with a school of regular fish swimming through their ranks. It's sweet in its play on words, but scary in that the fish don't know their fatal fate. Jaydan Moore is similar to Frank in that he creates jewelry with metal; however, instead of shiny tributes to digitalia, he romanticizes found objects. Sediment/Sentiment is a rustic cylindrical piece made from "found materials." Intricate swirls are engraved in the piece. Because of this detail, Sediment/Sentiment is miraculous in its ability to look like two things: From one angle, it's a lovely bracelet; from the other, it resembles a crown. Robert Thomas Mullen is another jewelry maker. His accessories use wood, resulting in nature-inspired pieces that reflect his surroundings. As the Illinois native is currently in Houston, How I See/Saw Houston is a replication of the downtown skyline made with — what else? — Texas ebony, brass and cubic zirconia. The last is puzzling, though; why not a diamond? Better yet — since the city is part of a booming oil industry — an image of a well? Oil well, that is. Black gold. Texas tea. Through September 29. 4848 Main, 713-529-4848. — AO

"MURMURATIONS" In ascending order from the bottom of Lawndale Art Center's first-floor stairs are five small speakers. To the left of these speakers are five lights illuminating each of the speakers. Start climbing the stairs, and a congregation of sounds begins. First clapping. Then cheering. By the time you reach the top, a chorus of voices has surrounded you. It's hard to tell which sound comes out of which speaker; their close proximity allows the noise of one to melt into the next, a sum of strings that together create a whole symphony. Taking the elevator back down won't save you. It's really crowded in there, you think, as the doors slide open — only it's not, you realize, as you step in and the doors close behind you. That congregation of voices you're hearing is coming out of another speaker, this one attached to a corner. You are all alone. Don't bother looking for help on the third floor, either. You are surrounded by this sound, even on the gallery's highest level, where speakers await your movement once more. There is no more to "MURMURATIONS," Lina Dib's sound-installation exhibition at Lawndale Art Center, than a set of speakers strewn throughout the gallery. They're not even very big; instead, they look like something you could easily procure from Best Buy or some other franchise technology retailer. The wires that connect the speakers to their electrical power source are exposed and not very attractive to look at. The lights, if you look directly into them, are garish and blinding. And yet it's this humble setup that creates the mood for the entire gallery. The entrance and elevator installations play on four- and two-minute loops, respectively, while the stairwell and third-floor window's installations are triggered by the passing of your body. Therefore, you, walking in front of each speaker's motion sensor, become complicit in the exhibition, an accidental performance artist whose own movement propels this exhibit — and the rest in Lawndale — forward. The speakers' universal locations also affect the other exhibitions showing concurrently at Lawndale: "Fantastic Habitat" by Susi Brister, "Now, What Was There" by Cory Reeder and "Room Divider" by Susannah Mira. Whichever one you choose to view, a sound will be playing, determining your mood as you observe. The same or another sound will still be playing as you walk into or out of an exhibition, solidifying calming or congratulatory feelings about the previous, and pre-determining calm or congratulatory feelings about the next. Because of this, "MURMURATIONS" is the most powerful exhibition at Lawndale. Through September 28. 4912 Main, 713-528-5858. — AO

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