Interdisciplinary arts festival to amplify community
The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts is presenting its first CounterCurrent Festival, featuring artists from around the world, as well as UH students and faculty, with new interdisciplinary art.
Performances will include elements of visual art, music, film, theatre, dance and literature. The festival will run for five days from Wednesday through Sunday, and all events are free and open to the public.
“This festival is all about collaboration and will transform Houston into a hotbed of creative activity. It is my hope to create a groundbreaking event in the same genre of the first-class arts festivals around the world, from Europe to Mexico City, New York to Portland,”said Executive Director Karen Farber.
“CounterCurrent is about amplifying Houston’s communities, cityscapes, industries and institutions through works developed outside and within Houston’s borders.”
The festival’s headquarters, the Bermac Arts Building, is a newly renovated Midtown space that will be seen for the first time during CounterCurrent. The Center for the Arts hopes to interest UH and the local community.
Farber spoke with The Daily Cougar about the upcoming arts event.
The Daily Cougar: What was the inspiration behind creating the CounterCurrent Festival?
Karen Farber: The festival’s name, CounterCurrent, plays on the idea of the present moment, as well as a desire to challenge the status quo and present something “counter” to the mainstream. We also wanted a name that related to the energy industry — the image of the spark of an electrical current was the perfect one for our festival. Disciplines crossing one another are always present in what we do. This will be an annual citywide and campuswide event.
TDC: Tell me about the University’s involvement in the planning and production of CounterCurrent.
KF: Houston has never hosted this kind of contemporary art festival. Houston’s pioneering spirit and embracing of all things new and innovative are fundamental to CounterCurrent’s mission.We hope to build new audiences for the arts and particularly for contemporary performance by making this festival a fun and accessible experience for everyone, while also maintaining the experimental aesthetic for which we are known.
TDC: How have UH students, faculty, staff and alumni come together in this year’s festival?
KF: The Mitchell Center functions as a hub among the performing visual and literary arts at UH, and students and faculty from those units have been deeply involved in the development of the festival. UH faculty members Abinadi Meza, Patrick Peters, Cheryl Beckett, Lacy Johnson and others have work in the festival. Students from the College of Architecture, School of Art and the Mitchell Center’s IART program are also featured. We are thrilled to present work from the UH community within this national and international context.
TDC: What do you feel is unique about CounterCurrent? Why should people — particularly those who are not involved in the arts — come to CounterCurrent?
KF: For CounterCurrent, we chose artists whose work is interdisciplinary, exciting and thoughtful. We ask artists to develop new works that are truly connected to our local environment: the cityscapes, communities and industries that are part of Houston’s identity. Through this, we provide audiences with multiple points of access to the work. You don’t need to know a lot about contemporary art to experience these projects.