100 Creatives 2014: Sandria Hu, Visual Artist and Professor of Art, Inspired by Archaeological Digs

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Archeolgoical_Dress_4 Sandria Hu
Photo courtesy of Sandria Hu
Archeological Dress #4, a collograph print

When she visited Slovakia in 1986 as a Fulbright Scholar, Sandria Hu wasn't planning on visiting any archaeological dig sites. But when she was invited by local archaeologists, what she encountered was awe-inspiring.

Hu's eerie and breathtaking current exhibition, called "Archeological Dress," consists of 20 collograph printed children's' dresses lowered into a batch of gel medium and pressed flat to dry. Once they harden, she scours each dress with a toothbrush, similar to the process of unearthing an artifact from a dig site.

She knew she wanted to be an artist when she was attending elementary school in San Francisco, but as she's gotten more serious about it, the experience of creation has transformed into something beyond pleasure for Hu, something that sounds surreal in description.

"It's very agonizing. I don't have fun when I do my artwork, I really don't...I find it very stressful, I find it very agonizing, and I think it's only because I'm still searching. And sometimes when you're looking for something, you're not really at ease. You're not really happy. Because you don't know what it is you're looking for. I'm always searching for that next thing. I find it very intense, I find it really absorbed."

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100 Creatives 2014: Robert Gouner AKA Goon73

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What He Does: In 2008 Robert Gouner, the photographer who would become known as Goon73, was heavily into riding and building/customizing motorcycles. He wrote a monthly column for a motorcycle website and when the format changed to print he suddenly needed pictures to go with his articles. Since he didn't know any photographers, he started taking pictures himself. Once he's finished shooting all his bikes, he'd discovered a new passion in the process of picture taking. It allowed him a brand new creative outlet and with help of some patient mentors he began his career.

Gouner is heavily influenced by a love for abandoned buildings, horror movies, and pop culture. About a year after picking up the camera he was exploring an abandoned hospital as a possible photo shoot location when he discovered that the bottom floor of the hospital had approximately four feet of mold on the walls of the lower floor. Figuring that if he brought a model to shoot in the location he would need something to keep them all from getting sick, he scrounged up some surplus gas masks. The resulting masked shots became a major component of his future.

"There is something about the anonymity afforded by the masks," says Gouner. "When you combine the apocalyptic undertones and brutality of their original role, it is hard to explain, but it is fascinating to me."

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100 Creatives 2014: Shawna Forney and Erma Tijerina (a.k.a. SHER), Culture Gurus

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Photo by Trish Badger
Shawna Forney and Erma Tijerina, aka SHER
We weren't at all surprised when Shawna Forney asked if she could share this interview with fellow organizer and friend Erma Tijerina. It's in Forney's nature to invite people, to turn everything into a group project, to make everything a party. Tijerina is the same. The community organizers/event planners/media consultants behind CulturePilot, a branding/design company and CreativeMornings Houston, a series of monthly breakfast meetings with imaginative, inventive speakers, Forney and Tijerina are both natural hosts, natural leaders. They're smart, focused, gregarious women with infectious enthusiasm and it's extremely difficult to ever say no to either of them.

A couple of generations ago, they would have made a hell of a pair of Tupperware ladies. These days, they're more aptly described as culture gurus.

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100 Creatives 2014: Mark Bradley, Camera Muse

Categories: 100 Creatives

Photos by Mark Bradley
What He Does: Some of Houston's best photographers combine to forma giant Voltronian force of artistic thunder under the umbrella of Muse Studios. Robert Gouner, Stanford Moore, Shelby Carter, Gracie Sosa, Rachel Tate are all part of the team, but today we're meeting Mark Bradley.

Bradley drew and sketched his whole life. He was good, but nothing spectacular. He traded a pencil for a camera in high school, shooting yearbook and school paper photos. Rather than go to college, he joined the navy hoping to see the world. Luck placed him in London during the '80s, where he managed to make the acquaintance of many photographers that would guide him on his way.

Bradley is a man that doesn't stick to any one style. It's hard to nail down a signature look to his work, and he's fine with that. He approaches each subject from a different angle, hoping never to be tied down to a label.

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100 Creatives 2014: James Ferry, Comic Art Sucker Punch

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What He Does: James Ferry is yet another of the extremely talented comic artists living here in Houston. His dream was to make films, and he actually has several credits as a writer, director, and storyboard artists for works like Blue,In Dreams, and American Goldfish. Overall, though, the world of film takes a huge number of people.

Ferry prefers his comic art as he is limited only by his imagination and his willingness to buckle down. You can see the cinematic range his mind possesses in his pieces. Expansive cityscapes make homes for science fiction heroes and heroines, while strange, Lovecraftian monsters defy the eye's ability to interpret them. His work calls to mind Fiona Staples illustrations in Saga, and there is no higher praise for a comic artist than that.

Why He Likes It: "Art allows you to share ideas with others. Great art allows the viewer to see something in a new way or question what was taken for granted. Great art touches some unseen part of you and causes an emotional response. I think it is this sort of mental engagement between viewer and creator that I like the most. I don't get that when counting up numbers. "

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100 Creatives 2014: Keith Parsons, Author, Philosophy Professor and Science Brainiac

Categories: 100 Creatives

We have to start this profile with some sad news: There are no big, juicy paychecks for writing books about philosophy. There are no big, juicy paychecks for writing books about science. And there certainly are no big, juicy paychecks for writing books about the philosophy of science.

We're shocked.

Philosophy professor and author Keith Parsons has just released his latest book, It Started with Copernicus: Vital Questions about Science. In 430 pages, he reveals the mysteries of the universe, explains gravity, verifies the existence of unicorns and presents the philosophical rational behind his stand against neo-conservative religious attacks on relativism in regards to postmodern feminism (we think we got that right). Oh, and he absolutely proves that you (yes, you) are not the center of the universe.

Okay, so we made up the part about unicorns but given that Parsons previously released Rational Episodes: Logic for the Intermittently Reasonable and God and the Burden of Proof: Plantinga, Swinburne, and the Analytic Defense of Theism, we figure if anyone could prove the existence of magical horses with horns growing out of their heads, it would be Parsons.

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100 Creatives 2014: Alonzo Williams Jr., Shooting the Music

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Janelle Monae
What He Does: There are plenty of photographers in the city of Houston. There are even plenty of photographers that specialize in shooting musicians. There are probably not any that feel the power of music as deeply as Alonzo Williams Jr. does though.

He even started out as an aspiring musician himself, and ended up married to amazing local singer Alycia Miles. He was new to Houston in 2008 and trying to find someone to help him capture the visual aspects of his own work. Unable to do so, he purchased a dirt cheap camera and started taking self portraits. Almost by accidents he ended up with a portfolio of great pictures from all over the city. Other musicians heard about his eye for the camera, and the next thing you know he is an in-demand photographer and videographer.

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100 Creatives 2014: Rudy Zanzibar Campos, Painting Them Loudly

Categories: 100 Creatives

What He Does: Rudy Zanzibar Campos likes to paint, but he prefers flesh to canvass. No, not tattooing, but airbrush and other techniques to transform mere mortals into the otherworldly and uncanny. The ultimate results are strange metahumans that defy belief.

Campos got started doing this as an offshoot of his studies doing movie FX with Classic Universal Films. He learned to airbrush so he could paint masks. Eventually he got good enough that photographers were calling him for airbrush jobs and it became his main focus.

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100 Creatives 2014: Paige Kiliany, Director

Categories: 100 Creatives

All photos courtesy of Paige Kiliany
Director Paige Kiliany
Paige Kiliany was just 13 when she realized she wanted to be a theater director. As a child, Kiliany performed in summer stock musicals with the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera. "That gave me a window into the backstage world," she tells us. "I saw all that the directors got to do ... and knew that's what I should do. So I gradually started [directing]." She was an assistant directer/apprentice for several shows at Pittsburgh CLO, including a production of Jekyll & Hyde. She also worked with Signature Theatre Company on productions of The Three Penny Opera and The Lady of Dubuque.

After earning a BFA in Directing at Carnegie Mellon University, Kiliany came to Houston where she most recently directed All in the Timing for The Landing Theatre Company, where she's currently the Literary Associate for New American Voices.

This story continues on the next page.

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100 Creatives 2014: Betirri Bengtson, Visual Artist, Creates Bodiless Soccer Players

Categories: 100 Creatives

photo provided by Betirri Bengtson
Mexico vs. USA

When he came to Houston from Mexico almost 17 years ago, Betirri Bengtson brought his country's fervor for soccer with him and poured it into his artwork.

"In Mexico, we're born and we grow up with futbol everywhere. In the streets, in the parks," says Bengtson.

His eerie and surrealistic paintings depict soccer players from around the globe, sans limb or jersey logo. "There are no people, but you can see the movement, the motion of the players, the teams and the colors. The essence of the game."

Bengtson took these pieces with him to Rio De Janiero last month, displaying them for soccer fans who'd come to the city for the World Cup from around the world to see. Before that, a Brazilian soccer team had commissioned him, which is when he knew that he should start pursuing art for a living.

"I wake up start, start working, take a break to go eat and work out, I come back to work until I go to sleep again. So it's just a lot of sacrifices, a lot of things that you really miss. But then you start to see the results. I was able to do my dream, and it was worth it."

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