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All News Art, Press Release

Ion District Unveils New Art Displays Showcasing Local Artists

by Ion

Creativity collides with innovation as Houston artists reveal new public art displays at the Ion

HOUSTON, AUGUST 9, 2023 – Ion District, Houston’s 16-acre innovation district developed by Rice University, today announced its next round of site-specific window art installations at the Ion, Houston’s innovation hub. Created by Houston-based artists Christopher Blay and Kill Joy, the new installations will be unveiled by the artists on August 16, 2023, during a public event hosted by Ion and Piper Faust Public Art at Second Draught located in the Ion from 5:30 – 7:30 pm CT.

Following the event, the installations will be available for the public to view for free for the next six months as part of Ion District’s “Eye on Art” program. The rotating art installations create opportunities for Houston-based artists and demonstrate the importance of cross-disciplinary connections when fostering innovation.

Chosen by the Ion and Ion District Art Advisory Council, with support from public art consultant Piper Faust, the installations are a nod to the original window displays of the historic Sears building on which Ion was built. Displayed in windows that serve as focal points to the building’s entry, Eye on Art provides access to art to community members and visitors, and reaffirms Ion District’s commitment to all innovators, including artists and creatives.

“Innovation and art have a lot more in common than you might think. Many of our local artists learn how to use emerging technologies to create their pieces and hone their craft,” said Jan E. Odegard, Executive Director of the Ion. “Creativity plays a vital role in fostering innovation and we’re honored to provide artists like Christopher and Kill Joy with a platform to serve as an inspiration for the entire innovation ecosystem here at the Ion.”

Christopher Blay: “The SpLaVCe Program”

Christopher Blay is an artist, writer, and curator whose current studio practice delves into speculative futures of Black people. His work reflects on all conditions that have been a part of Black life in America, from triumphs of culture to socio-political situations. Blay’s artistic practice consists of paintings, cyanotypes, and drawings that think about the blues and indigos of cyanotypes conceptually as “the Blues” or the “Black and Blues” of terrorism against Black bodies.

Blay’s ongoing series and latest body of work, “The SpLaVCe Program,” will expand into the Ion through the Eye on Art program. In collaboration with the Ion Prototyping Lab, Blay utilized canvases and wood frames to create an innovative, cohesive piece that combines elements of slaving vessels and spaceships into one object that symbolizes where the Black community has been and where they are going.

In addition to his art, Blay is a contributing writer for Art in America Magazine and a former art critic for Glasstire Magazine, and Chief Curator of the Houston Museum of African American Culture.

Kill Joy: “Creation, Current, Solution”

Kill Joy’s work is grounded in honoring the earth and seeking environmental and social justice. Her practice centers around relief printmaking, mural painting, and puppet making. Throughout her work, there is a belief that the deliberation of all human beings corresponds to the freedom of the land, water, and air, where greed and contamination are replaced with love and compassion.

Her window display at the Ion, “Creation, Current, Solution,” is an animated puppet installation exploring how we can advance as a global community, seen through the lens of Pilipino folklore. The piece centers indigenous experience by exploring regional mythology and how it speaks to current living situations. It is an exploration of destiny for people and planet, and how we can construct technological advancements for sustainable living conditions.

Kill Joy’s additional work involves printing posters for people-led campaigns, leading youth workshops, providing affordable art, painting community murals, and constructing fantastical puppet theater. Mediums with a bold, graphic quality speak to the sort of narratives she enjoys exploring.

“Innovation comes in many forms, and the Eye on Art program is a testament to artists, creatives, and Houston residents being an integral part of Ion’s innovation community,” said Faust. “As we unveil the third round of art installations, we celebrate the extraordinary work of our local artists, and also the inclusive, welcoming, and collaborative space that Ion offers to all innovators in Houston.”

To learn more about the Eye on Art program and its application process, please visit the Artist Residency page on Ion District’s website or contact Piper Faust at piper@piperfaustpublicart.com.

About Ion

Located in Ion District, the namesake building is the transformative centerpiece of Houston’s innovation corridor. Designed to bring our city’s entrepreneurial, corporate, and academic communities into collaborative spaces and programs, the sunlit structure of steel and glass is a home for advancing diverse knowledge, teams, technologies, and products that propel our world forward.

From Fortune 500s seeking flexible office space to first-time startups looking for the funding to design a prototype, the Ion provides wide-reaching space and support to connect every What if with What now?—welcoming individuals and teams of all kinds to a place to build a better way.