Kinfolk House, a family home turned art space in Fort Worth’s Polytechnic Heights neighborhood, invites the public to gather with its new exhibit titled “Congregate.” 

The show includes work from three artists with local, regional and national perspectives. North Texas artist Angela Faz is based in Dallas. Colby Deal hails from Houston. And Skip Hill lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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1913 Wallace St.
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“Being here in Fort Worth, we want to support local artists … And part of supporting local artists is also getting their work in conversation with artists that they might not normally show with,” Kinfolk House Director Jessica Fuentes said. “This is a great community, a great art scene, but it also can be a next step in their artistic career to be in conversation and to meet other artists who are working outside of this area.”

In addition to showcasing works from three artists, Kinfolk House plans to host events the artists brainstormed as a way to get the community involved.

“That’s a big part of how we envision the use of this space. Not just exhibiting works of art, but engaging people through programming,” Fuentes explained. “So we don’t have solid dates yet, but we’ve asked each of the artists to kind of help generate an idea of what a community program could look like and how it would speak to their work.” 

Hill, who frequently references images from barbershops in his work, is considering an event that partners with a barber to provide haircuts.

Other events are still in the works, but viewers can make use of a QR code map from Angela Faz right now. The map features businesses owned by the people depicted in their larger than life hand carved portraits. 

One of Faz’s pieces depicts Gloria at Tacos Don Miguel. (Marcheta Fornoff | Fort Worth Report)

Faz doesn’t live in Fort Worth, but spent a lot of time researching how the Polytechnic Heights neighborhood was settled, investing time interviewing and getting to know its residents.

“It was a very open-ended curatorial question. It was basically something like, ‘What makes a community and how do we define a community?’” Faz said. “And for me, what makes a community is the restaurants and the people that live there.” 

Faz set out with a flyer in English and Spanish and stopped by mom and pop restaurants to chat with the owners at places like Black Coffee and Pollo Asado El Original. 

“I wanted to focus on the owners of the business because a lot of times they’re the ones who have the vision of what they’d like their place to be,” they said.

Watching community and family members see their friends and loved ones depicted in their work was a highlight for Faz.

“That to me is just priceless. That’s the intended effect — to pay respect to these people who work so hard to provide for their families and create a really great place to have a meal,” Faz said. “And the second part would be, I would want them to see the importance of shopping local … to go see what’s out in their communities and see what kind of connections they can create in whatever community they’re in.”

For Deal, the Houston-based artist, the setting of the show also was important.

“I feel like it will bring it full circle to have it presented in this type of home, this type of space,” Deal said prior to the opening. “Having it in a home will be a perfect setting.”

The photographer has a display of black and white photos on view, with frames he made himself out of recycled and refurbished crown molding from houses. 

Houston-based artist Colby Deal makes his own frames for his portraits out of refurbished wood and crown molding. (Marcheta Fornoff | Fort Worth Report)

The desire to create a record and provide heirlooms for the next generation drives much of his work, Deal said.

“I think about that aspect of things being erased and displaced. A lot of our youth don’t really know about family history or culture because it’s all being torn down or thrown away,” Deal explained. “And I feel like the materials that I use and the type of imagery that I pair it with, so many young kids are going to art exhibitions these days … I feel like it provides an opportunity for self appreciation.” 

He hopes the work will spark conversations between kids and their parents to talk about that history, Deal said.

Artist Skip Hill stands to the side of a basketball hoop and backboard that he collaged
Artist Skip Hill stands in front of another one of his works on display at Kinfolk House. (Marcheta Fornoff | Fort Worth Report)

Hill’s work also is likely to spark conversations. He examines the ways Blackness is portrayed in popular culture and asks the audience to dive a little deeper into the stereotypes that often come from those depictions. 

“The identity that’s projected on us only as men, but as Black men, historically and in a contemporary sense, that serves kind of the background,” Hill said, describing his piece ‘M.A.A.D. CITY / ZULUS’ (Basketball Virtuosity).

There are two basketball players at the fore of that piece, with dozens of profiles of Black men in the background. The square images are reminiscent of photos one might find in a barbershop, as examples of specific haircuts or headshots someone might see on a basketball roster. But Hill also thought about mug shots and wanted to flip those negative assumptions about criminality on its head.

“I come from a family with a lot of brothers, a lot of men, and they’re all like mentors in their community. They haven’t been in jail. They’re educated,” he said. “And that is the world that I live in.” 

Hill hopes viewers will shed some of those assumptions and consider the individuality of each man featured in his work.

“As you look at each of these individuals, what do you really know about them?” Hill said. “I mean, for all you know, they could very well be educated. They could really be into robotics or engineering or sports.”

For Hill, who created a lot of his work in isolation during the pandemic, the opportunity to congregate again is a welcome one, especially in a neighborhood and family home that is so different from traditional galleries and museums.

“They might not feel comfortable going to those places. It may be, in their minds, too elitist or a place where they’re not welcome,” Hill said. “Whereas if we bring the art into their community, you know, hopefully there will be a better opportunity for them to come in and see art and see some level of themselves reflected back to them by people who are, in many cases, born of their same circumstances.”

Marcheta Fornoff covers the arts for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at marcheta.fornoff@fortworthreport.org or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Marcheta Fornoff

For just over seven years Marcheta Fornoff performed the high wire act of producing a live morning news program on Minnesota Public Radio. She led a small, but nimble team to cover everything from politics...