June 26, 2024

Discovery Green Art Lab: Frequently Asked Questions

Discovery Green, Weingarten Art Group and a group of Houston artists gathered at The Lake House for an Art Lab kickoff event. The event was an opportunity to ask questions about applying to the groundbreaking initiative Discovery Green Art Lab. We’ve pulled these questions together into one FAQ in the hopes that Houston artists will find this helpful as they prepare their application.

For more information, and to apply visit www.discoverygreen.com/artlab. Artists are encouraged to read the Request For Qualifications thoroughly before submitting. Applications for the first year fellows are due by July 14.

Discovery Green Art Lab: FAQ

Who are the Art Lab mentors and what are their roles? Can you elaborate on the credentials, training, etc. of each of the mentors? What exactly will fellows learn from each of the mentors?

Inaugural Lead Artist: Jen Lewin

Jen Lewin is a widely respected public artist based in Brooklyn known for her interactive light landscapes using innovative technologies. Over her nearly 30-year career, Lewin has honed her artistic and technical expertise to design and fabricate large-scale interactive public sculptures across the world, both temporary and permanent, that encourage community interaction and play. Her design “The Other,” will be featured at The Man Pavilion in 2024’s Burning Man celebration.

Her work unites nature and technology to create connected human experiences and underscores the ripple effects that individuals have on their community and habitat. With experience in mentoring artists, Lewin is exceptionally suited to serve as the inaugural Lead Artist and mentor for Art Lab. Lewin’s winter art installation at Discovery Green, debuting in November 2024, will serve as a real-life example and hands-on learning experience for the chosen artists.

Role: Lewin will guide fellows through the practicum “Insights and Instruction into Public Art: From Concept to Execution” which includes a visit to her Brooklyn studio in September for a behind the scenes look at what’s involved in creating an interactive, large-scale, public outdoor artwork and following that, in October, weekly virtual sessions that dive deeper into public art topics and processes. In November, the fellows will get hands-on experience with Jen and her team as they install her artwork at Discovery Green.

Art Lab co-creator, co-curator, and administrator: Weingarten Art Group

Weingarten Art Group have been co-curators and co-administrators for Discovery Green’s public art program since 2014 and continue in that role for Art Lab. Weingarten Art Group is an art advisory firm based in Houston, Texas, partnering with clients and artists across the region and around the world to curate and manage public and private art collections of every size and scope.

Role: WAG will provide comprehensive support throughout the program and offer expert guidance on the creative potential of proposals and the practical aspects of crafting a compelling pitch. Additionally, WAG will assist with project management, budget allocation, and ensuring project sustainability.

Design Specialist: METALAB

METALAB, is a multidisciplinary design firm and licensed architecture practice located in Houston, Texas. The firm has experience in three distinct areas of practice: Architecture, Creative Infrastructure, and Public Art Project Management. Since METALAB’s founding, they have embraced advanced 3D modeling and digital fabrication technologies with a practice that remains grounded in the understanding that craft and technology are symbiotic.

Role: METALAB will assist fellows in refining their design proposals for the 2025 pop-up opportunity at Discovery Green. They will provide feedback and guidance on design optimization, technical consultation on materials and structural considerations, the creation of visual renderings and design drawings, and finally advising on practical budget management.

What should I include in my letter of intent?

In your Letter of Interest (600-word maximum) describe your current artistic, architecture, or design practice, explaining your interest in Art Lab and what you hope to gain from it, and outlining initial project ideas, themes, technologies, or materials you wish to explore if selected to create a temporary project at Discovery Green. In your Letter of Interest, we want to know about your voice, perspective, and why it’s needed. Art Lab’s goal is to elevate the voices, ideas, and visions of artists from Houston onto the national public art scene: Tell us how you’ll help Discovery Green’s Art Lab to achieve this goal.

Submissions will be evaluated based on applicants’ professional experience, public art goals, potential and alignment with Discovery Green’s goals and mission, and diversity and representation.

What type of artwork do you encourage applicants to include as part of their portfolio? Can it be catered to our own artist practice, or would you prefer it be generic?

Art Lab’s goal is to elevate the voices, ideas, and visions of artists and creatives from Houston onto the national public art scene. Provide up to 15 images showing past art or designs with an image list that includes descriptions, such as title, medium, date, and dimensions. The images you choose should best represent your vision and voice as a professional artist.

What does underrepresented mean in the RFQ?

Priority will be given to applicants who are underrepresented in the field of public art. This includes but is not limited to artists of color, women, LGBTQ+, artists with disabilities, etc. Art Lab’s goal is to elevate the voices, ideas, and visions of artists from Houston onto the national public art scene.

Is public art experience required?

Public art experience is not required. The chosen Art Lab fellows will demonstrate professional development as artists or creatives.

If I am chosen as a fellow, does that mean that I will be awarded the pop-up opportunity?

Participating in Art Lab as a fellow will provide you with the guidance and skills to present the best proposal possible. While the call for proposals will be open to all artists regardless of location, Discovery Green Art Lab fellows’ applications will be given special consideration.

Are you expecting the pop-up installation to be technologically advanced, and if so, do you expect applicants to have a strong tech background?

We ask that artists think of ways to make their proposed art installation interactive. It does not need to be technologically or digitally advanced to do so. Discovery Green believes a successful public art installation invites exploration, wonder and interaction with nature and community.

Can you select in what area of the park the pop-up installation will be placed it? Or is it in a certain area?

Please keep in mind you should not have a fully developed idea to be selected as an Art Lab fellow. Development of a thoughtful and practical proposal is one of the key goals of the fellowship. Guidance will be provided on your proposal as you participate in the program, including site considerations.

What does the time commitment really look like? Are the mentorship meetings during the day or is there flexibility on time and location (ex. In-person or via Zoom)?

Art Lab fellows will be asked to commit to participate in an in-person trip to Jen Lewin’s Brooklyn studio September 23rd through the 25th. Art Lab fellows will also be asked to participate in the installation of Jen Lewin’s art at Discovery Green from November 11th through the 13th, with hours to be determined based on each fellow’s availability (a commitment of a minimum of 9 hours over the course of the installation).

In addition, phone calls and virtual meetings with mentors will be held one to three times a week during business hours from October 2024 through January 2025, with holiday breaks. The program continues through Spring 2025 and the time commitment from February through May will be more flexible and less intensive.

Can you break down what the stipend is designed to cover?

The $4,500 honorarium is meant to provide fellows the financial means to participate in the Art Lab

program. In addition, fellows will be provided with a $2,500 travel stipend to travel to Jen Lewin’s Brooklyn studio in September.

Will more than two fellows be chosen for Art Lab?

Only two fellows will be chosen for the inaugural year of Art Lab.

I have a question that wasn’t answered here. Who should I contact?

Email your questions to Ady Avivi at ady@weingartenartgroup.com.

Houston artists at a Discovery Green Art Lab kickoff event at The Lake House.

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