To commemorate the connection between George Floyd and DJ Screw, University of Houston Libraries Special Collections commissioned an artwork by Robert L. Hodge, a notable artist from the Third Ward. His collage titled 8:46 will be displayed at the MD Anderson Library in Special Collections.
Houstonian George Floyd rapped on a handful of the underground mixtapes created by DJ Screw, whose archival collection is part of the Houston Hip Hop Research Collection at UH Special Collections. Following Floyd’s death in 2020, Julie Grob, curator of the collection, invited Hodge to create one of his signature collages in a way that would honor Floyd. 8:46 is a vibrant layering of figures reclaimed from old record album covers, anchored by Floyd’s gaze.
The faces in 8:46 represent the various perspectives and reactions to Floyd’s death. What emerges from the work is a tale of two Americas, Hodge said, and how we are all interconnected. “It’s the story of a flawed man who, no matter what you thought about him, is a human being who didn’t deserve to die.”
Like Floyd, Hodge was raised in the historic Third Ward neighborhood where UH is located. He has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including Slowed and Throwed: Records of the City Through Mutated Lenses, an exhibition of artwork and archival material related to DJ Screw. Hodge also contributed label text to the UH Libraries exhibition Brothers in Rhyme: Fat Pat, Big Hawk, and the Screwed Up Click.
Of the Third Ward as inspiration to his work, Hodge said, “The people make the community, and the people are so diverse. From a jazz musician to a mailman to an addict, each has a story. This keeps me grounded in reality, in my work.”
A few of Hodge’s artistic influences include Romare Bearden, David Hammons, David McGee, Rick Lowe, Jesse Lott, Frida Kahlo, Robert Rauschenberg, The Art Guys, Otabenga Jones, Jabari Anderson, Jamal Cyrus, Kenya Evans, and Robert Pruitt.
Hodge has been doing collage work for many years and it is an art form for which he holds great respect. His technique is organic and involves finding older, lesser-known soul, blues, and country records and using the album cover art to create a new image. “It’s a stress breaker for me,” Hodge said. “I love taking an existing narrative and making something new out of it. That’s a lot like hip hop, sampling older records and making something new while honoring the past. The layers represent life in collage; there are a lot of things you see and a lot of things you don’t see.”
University of Houston Libraries is pleased to announce a gift from opera composer Carlisle Floyd to UH Special Collections.
The former Moores School of Music professor’s gift of the Prince of Players score and accompanying materials coincides with two 2021 Grammy nominations for Best Opera Recording and Best Contemporary Classical Composition. Floyd debuted Prince of Players at Houston Grand Opera in 2016.
Mary Manning, archivist for the Performing and Visual Arts Research Collection, said the materials, including opera piano, vocal, and full scores, original character background, libretto, arias, and programs, will be added to the Carlisle Floyd Manuscript Scores collection donated in 1999. Other scores in the collection include Bilby’s Doll, 1976; Of Mice and Men: An Opera in Three Acts, Libretto and Music, 1968; Wuthering Heights: A Musical Drama in Prologue and Three Acts, 1958; The Martyr, for Chorus, 2 Trumpets, Timpani, and Piano, undated; The Sojourner and Mollie Sinclair, 1963; and Soul of Heaven: Reflections on Music, 1992.
“The Prince of Players archives capture Floyd’s creative process and document the steps involved in making the opera—from early notes recording the birth of the idea to multiple versions of the score (handwritten and printed) to costume sketches and stage designs,” Manning said.
“This generous gift will be invaluable to scholars conducting research on contemporary American Opera and practitioners seeking to hone their craft in opera audio engineering and production,” said Madelyn Shackelford Washington, coordinator of the UH Music Library.
The University of Houston Libraries fall 2020 newsletter is now online, celebrating accomplishments of the year and the great work of our students and staff.
The University Archives at University of Houston Libraries seeks stories from UH students relating to the coronavirus outbreak. Artistic and creative expressions are welcomed alongside more documentary responses.
Students are encouraged to share stories through journals, photographs, and interviews/oral histories, and also through drawings, songs, and monologues. University Archives will preserve responses to this unique and challenging moment in history for people in the future.
For more information, visit UH Students! How has the COVID-19 Pandemic Impacted Your Life?
University of Houston Libraries Digital Research Services (DRS) and Digital Research Commons (DRC) invite UH faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows to submit proposals for sponsored digital research projects to run for the calendar year 2021. DRS collaborates with researchers on projects involving digital techniques across the humanities, social sciences, and experimental sciences.
DRS seeks teams or individuals, experts and novices alike, who have a project that they would like to develop. This can either be a project that is already underway or one not yet begun. While prior knowledge of digital tools and techniques is welcome, it is not required. DRS works with researchers to help them organize their information, analyze it, and produce compelling results.
DRS will offer grants at three levels, designed to address projects at different levels of development. The first level, designed to help projects at the seed stage of development, will offer funding up to $3500. The second, designed to develop projects that have already made demonstrable progress, will offer funding up to $6500. The third tier, designed to foster projects at a planning stage, will offer funding up to $1000, and focus primarily on producing a polished application for federal or external grants.
Proposals are due by November 6. For more information on how to submit your proposal, visit Sponsored Projects Program Overview and Documentation.
University of Houston Libraries is pleased to announce the establishment of a new endowment to support the LGBT History Research Collection.
The Hollyfield Foundation Endowment will provide funding for the acquisition and preservation of primary source materials in the LGBT History Research Collection, one of 13 collecting areas in UH Libraries Special Collections. The collection preserves and promotes the archives of LGBT communities and organizations from Houston and the region. Materials, including personal papers, organization records, and library collections, document the communities’ activist, cultural, social, and political activities, and the personal experiences of community members.
Through its support of LGBT and AIDS non-profits, the Hollyfield Foundation has made a substantial positive impact on local LGBT communities since its inception in 1994. The Houston-based organization contributes to charities that work to prevent discrimination, promote equality, and assist in HIV/AIDS education, care and treatment.
“Jay Hollyfield deeply loved Houston and our LGBT community and history,” said Elizabeth McLane, Hollyfield Foundation board president. “The Hollyfield Foundation Board of Directors is thrilled that his name will now be linked perpetually to one of the nation’s most extensive and exceptional LGBT history collections.”
In recognition of this grant, UH Libraries will establish an annual exhibition of materials from the LGBT History Research Collection, to be held at MD Anderson Library during June each year as part of Pride Month.
Marilyn Myers, interim dean of UH Libraries, said the endowment supports the Libraries’ mission to preserve and provide access to unique primary sources for teaching, learning, research, and scholarship. “This endowment will allow UH Libraries to expand the LGBT History Research Collection and increase engagement with students and scholars,” Myers said. “With this gift, we’ll be able to make accessible a rich collection of primary source materials to those seeking an understanding of the history and legacy of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender communities.”
Thanks to a Texas State Library and Archives Commission TexTreasures grant funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), over 100 reels of microfilmed archives documenting women and underrepresented communities in Texas visual arts will be digitized and made accessible online.
The Texas Art Project is an extensive collection of visual arts history preserved at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) library. Between 1978 and 1985, MFAH contacted artists, galleries, and arts organizations across Texas to document unique manuscript papers and research materials on microfilm, as part of the Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art (AAA). The project yielded nearly 700 reels, a subset of which featured materials from women artists, artists of color, and galleries that hosted them. This subset is the focus of the TexTreasures grant which allowed University of Houston Libraries Special Collections and MFAH to collaborate on the digitization of approximately 150,000 images, previously available only in a limited, localized capacity in microfilm at MFAH. Digitized images of materials such as correspondence, exhibition catalogs, reviews, and publications will become openly available online with multiple points of access, thereby facilitating scholarship and research using unique primary sources.
“When these materials were gathered on microfilm at the MFAH as part of the AAA, it was a tremendous gift as far as preservation,” said Marie Wise, managing archivist at MFAH. “We are so fortunate that these rich materials were preserved as they were. In digitizing them and creating searchable metadata, we are now making them accessible to a far broader audience. In this way, scholars and students can uncover this amazing history.”
Contributions from women artists and artists of color are underrepresented in scholarship and public awareness, making this project particularly relevant in today’s social climate. “The goal of the digitization project is to provide a resource for scholars, students, and teachers to be able to engage with the lives and work of these artists,” said Christian Kelleher, head of UH Special Collections. “We want to boost awareness and appreciation for that work. We want to see that students are educated on archival research and critical inquiry, and that scholars are able to produce new knowledge based on unique primary sources preserved here.”
Wise noted that the project is about expanding accessibility through institutional partnerships. “By working together, we can make the collective art history resources in Houston and in Texas more discoverable,” Wise said. “The stories that are held in our respective archives are interwoven, and we all want the fullest historical picture possible preserved and studied. The MFAH is very glad to be a partner in this project.”
An important part of the project involves the support of student success. Two graduate students in arts-related fields were hired to assist in indexing and cataloging the collection, research each artist, and contact each artist.
Lysette Portano, a professional contemporary dancer and one of the project’s graduate assistants, is enrolled in the MA in Arts Leadership program in the Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts at UH. “As an interpreter, I have always been curious about artists’ creative processes,” Portano said. “This drive has led me to research and experience different art forms. I became interested in this project because it uncovers artists that reshaped the Texas art scene and preserves the legacies of their contributions to the arts.”
Carolann Madden, a PhD candidate in literature and creative writing at UH, was drawn to the project for similar research interests in folklore and ethnography. “It’s important for us to understand “archives” as places, both physical and digital, where we can find a wide array of material,” Madden said. “The material on the reels is incredibly valuable and exciting, and should be shared. While this project was proposed and started before the pandemic, watching our archives and libraries close around the world served as a meaningful reminder that digitization not only helps preserve material in our archives, but also offers access to it wherever we are.”
TexTreasures is a yearly competitive grant program of TexShare, a consortium of Texas libraries joining together to share print and electronic materials, purchase online resources, and combine staff expertise. TexShare is administered by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC).
The TexTreasures awards are made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to TSLAC under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act. The mission of IMLS is to advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development.
Students from the C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston conducted a digital humanities project using primary documents preserved in UH Libraries Special Collections University Archives.
The Bauer History Project, which was sponsored by the UH Libraries Digital Research Commons, involved the capture, cataloging, processing, and analysis of historical College of Business Administration/Bauer College materials. Students of senior professor of practice Emese Felvégi worked in small teams to produce a digital database using physical objects, processing a total of 147 items and creating 596 unique scans in the first phase of the project.
Esther Adaramola, whose major is management information systems, was one of the project managers. Her role involved scheduling days to file and process the archives. She and fellow project managers collaborated to determine a digital tagging system for the archives that were photographed, and oversaw the capturing, processing, analyzing, and tagging phases.
Flexibility and collaboration were key to the success of the project. “Like the rest of the world, COVID-19 took us by surprise and made us rethink how to proceed,” Adaramola said. “Thankfully, I work with amazing people who were willing to hop on many video calls to strategize how we could continue to make progress. Things worked out well since we all understood the potential benefits associated with completing this project on time. I think what made this project extra special to me was that my coworkers and I were genuinely excited about working on it and sharing our findings.”
Project manager Sorosh Malekzad, also majoring in management information systems, said the important aspects of the project involved planning and adapting to obstacles. “We were prepared for the process by attending a training with university archivist Mary Manning and reading articles recommended by director of digital humanities services Dr. Claude Willan and Dr. Felvégi,” Malekzad said. “We enhanced and picked up new skills along the way. I learned how to batch rename images on my own and created a short video to show others my findings—this is a process that automated a tedious manual process and saved us a lot of time.”
The students presented their project to Felvégi, Willan, and Manning. “I was very impressed with the work the students have done—especially as their worlds have been turned upside down,” Manning said. “The project is an excellent example of how students learned, found meaning in, and excelled at their work during COVID-19.”
Uzma Masood, whose major is accounting, was also one of the project managers. “I had the honor of working with Dr. Felvégi in past semesters,” Masood said. “In spring 2020 she introduced the research of Bauer history from UH Libraries and I jumped at the opportunity.”
Masood said the project was significant to uncovering Bauer’s hidden stories. “Our work in Special Collections is significant to not only creating an online database but also bringing to light the past of our business college. We only flourish and become the powerhouse that we are today because we learn from our past, we know our history and we understand where we hail from.”
“The students performed a never-before-completed experiential learning task with our historical records and also provided a service to our college,” said Felvégi, who is part of the Bauer College of Business Department of Decision and Information Sciences. “Once the collection has been processed in full, we will be able to look at changes in materials released by our college from the late 1940s and on and examine how majors, programs, and our campus have evolved.”
The significance of the project was heightened in part by the demands of the pandemic. “The project was a success as an academic project but has also been a success on some level by providing a purpose outside of their quarantine spaces,” Felvégi said. “Having set meeting times and objectives required students to stay connected. For many, this connection may have given a sense of normalcy during an otherwise challenging time.”
“I personally learned a lot while working on this project,” Malekzad said. “It was something I enjoyed doing and I am excited to take it further to the next step.”
The project contributes to UH Special Collections’ mission of making it easier for stakeholders to access archives.
“Our work in Special Collections plays a role in bringing Bauer’s history to life,” Adaramola said. “By shining a spotlight on these historical archives, we can measure how far Bauer has come in terms of curriculum. Being able to contextualize Bauer’s historical timeline is a great benefit not just for the college but also students and visitors. The archives tell a story about some of the roots that helped grow Bauer into the leading-edge and student-centered educational powerhouse it is today.”
University of Houston Libraries Special Collections seeks stories and perspectives from UH students pertaining to the coronavirus outbreak.
It is important that the experiences of UH students during this challenging time are recorded and preserved in the University Archives. UH students are encouraged to share their stories of this unique moment in history through journals and oral histories, and also through creative works such as drawings, songs, and monologues.
For more information and to submit your stories online, visit UH Students! Share Your Experience of the Coronavirus Outbreak.
A student-curated exhibition is now on display at University of Houston Libraries Special Collections.
Blacker than a Thousand Midnights: Picturing the Black Spirit in Harlem Renaissance Graphic Arts was curated by students in last semester’s class, Art History 4394-6394 The Harlem Renaissance, taught by Dr. Caroline Goeser. The exhibition includes books of the Harlem Renaissance from Special Collections’ Rare Books Collections and artwork by student Elijah Caldwell.
The exhibition will run through Friday, March 27. A related exhibition will open at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Hirsch Library as Echoes of Harlem: The Graphic Work of Aaron Douglas, March 10 – June 27.