The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Challenge America program is designed to promote equal access to the arts across all communities. Through its Challenge America grant, Dallas College is presenting exhibits by two nationally recognized artists of color who have regional ties. The admission-free exhibits opened Jan. 17 at Dallas College El Centro and North Lake campuses.
“We are pleased to present these two exhibits in support of Dallas College’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Brett Dyer, dean of gallery, theater and live event operations at Dallas College. “We are proud to contribute to the national movement of social justice through exposing and engaging our students and community with exhibitions created by such talented and successful local artists.”
Curtis Derall Ferguson’s “Flowers in the Dirt” will be on display at the H. Paxton Fine Art Gallery (Bldg. B, first floor) at Dallas College El Centro Campus through March 3. An artist reception will be held Feb. 21, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Ferguson earned a bachelor’s degree in Art Education/Graphic Design from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and Master of Education from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. He currently resides in Cedar Hill, Texas.
“My life is my work and my work is a direct reflection of my life,” Ferguson said, in his artist statement. “I saw a lot of pain and poverty growing up, yet I constantly longed for love, joy and peace. My art became my escape to a ‘more perfect world’ and paradise. I was fascinated by what the human face could reveal without using words. Eyes, brows, lips, noses, gestures and expressions told of fear, sorrow, pain, joy, excitement, ecstasy, hopelessness and triumph.” Ferguson describes himself as a realist, impressionist and surrealist.
“Ferguson’s work ‘Flowers in the Dirt’ represents an authentic and radical truth about the Black American experience. His use of animated colors amplifies the pain, struggle and joy of the family unit,” said Dr. Giraud Polite, dean of academic affairs, arts and humanities at Dallas College.
Michelle Cortez Gonzales’ exhibit “Past Is Present” will be on display at Dallas College North Lake Campus Art Gallery (Bldg. A, second floor) through March 9. She will give a demonstration on March 2, at 10 a.m., followed by a reception from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Also a Texas-based artist, Gonzales earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from the University of Texas at Arlington, and Master of Fine Arts from the University of Dallas.
Gonzales is a multidisciplinary artist who works in a range of mediums, including paint, found materials, video and installation. In her artist statement, she said her exhibit is “meant to evoke memories of one’s own familial story and encourage empathy and acceptance of others and self.” Her work explores complex sentiments of cultural memory, identity, belonging and domestic labor.
“Gonzales’ assemblage of found objects seen in her body of work titled ‘Past Is Present,’ adorn rhythmic textile patterns, confronting viewers with rich imagery depicting cultural loss and assimilation,” said Dr. Polite.
“It is an honor to host these exhibitions at Dallas College. The work of Curtis Derall Ferguson and Michelle Cortez Gonzales will impact our entire community and inspire a new generation of artists. We are grateful for this opportunity and encourage both our Dallas College and the broader Dallas community to visit our campuses and engage with these exhibits,“ said Ahava Silkey-Jones, vice provost, Dallas College School of Creative Arts, Entertainment and Design.