Make a list of everybody who has had an impact on your life: the third grade teacher who jumpstarted your fascination with science, the bully who made you vow to never be a victim again, the relationship that opened your eyes to a whole different way of thinking.
Multimedia artist Allan deSouza took that concept one step further, turning the London tube schematic on its head and renaming Norwood Junction as Nina Simone, Camden Road as Rick James and Wandsworth Road as Fidel Castro. Titled Navigation Chart, it's a creative way to reflect back on life's small and large moments while also calling attention to the beauty found in mapmaking.
deSouza is one of four artists showing works in "New Cartographies," the current exhibit at Asia Society Texas Center. And, in the center's holiday gift to the community, they're opening up the galleries to the public with free admission during the month of December.
Don't miss the opportunity to attend an artist talk this Saturday with deSouza, who will not only discuss his objects in the exhibit but also his new book, How Art Can Be Thought: A Handbook for Change, published by Duke University Press. His experiences — being born in Nairobi, Kenya to parents of Indian heritage yet having a Western-sounding surname — sometimes found him with the feeling of not quite fitting in.
"Many of us came here from somewhere else, born in a different city or different country. For Allan's family living in Kenya and moving to the United Kingdom and eventually coming to the United States, he is a wonderful interpreter of what it can feel like to feel slightly out of place," says Bridget Bray, the center's Nancy C. Allen Curator and Director of Exhibitions. "We really like the way that he unpacks that message."
Bray says his new book will be especially relevant for people in university or some way involved in education. "The book is a wonderful inquiry into how art can be thought about, and also taught about," says Bray. "His particular form of work involves satire and a sense of humor. Readers will enjoy getting a chance to hear him speak."
The artist talk this Saturday is one of two related programs that are free for members and $8 for non-members; reservations are requested. Tiffany Chung, another artist exhibiting in the show, will discuss her work on January 12. She was born in Da Nang, Vietnam and now lives and works in Houston.
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Joining deSouza and Chung in the exhibit are Li Songsong (Beijing) and Sohel Nishino (born in Japan), presenting works that take a look at how maps inform and shape our view of the world, though sometimes with a touch of inaccuracy. "It’s a multimedia exhibition that involves installation art, sculpture, painting and photography," says Bray, adding that it's really a tour de force for these contemporary artists.
Asia Society Texas Center is open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, 1370 Southmore, 713-496-9901, asiasociety.org/texas, free (during December).
The artist talk with Allan deSouza is scheduled for 2-3:30 p.m. December 8, RSVP at asiasociety.org/texas/events/artist-talk-allan-desouza, free to $8. A free docent-led tour of "New Cartographies" will follow.
The artist talk with Tiffany Chung is scheduled for 2-3:30 p.m. January 12, RSVP at asiasociety.org/texas/events/artist-talk-tiffany-chung. A docent-led tour of "New Cartographies" will follow.