Islanders Jamie Speck and Juleanna Fuller were among 43 Rockport artists selected to receive funding through THE NEW NORMAL: Rockport initiative by the Fine Line Group, which is providing $150,000 in grants for the creation of new artwork that reflects life in the coastal community during the myriad life-altering events including the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus on eradicating systemic racism, and recovery from Hurricane Harvey.
Funding support by the Fine Line Group, the Family offices of Sasha and Edward P. Bass, and the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund at the North Texas Community Foundation provided $2,000 grant awards for the top 43 applicants. The top 19 artists with the highest scores, including Fuller and Speck, received an additional $3,000 award. The initiative was administered by Gallery of Dreams, a Fort Worth nonprofit arts organization.
Speck, a Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi graduate student working on her Master of Fine Arts degree, created 16 miniature ink and encaustic (a style of painting that involves using heated beeswax with pigment added to it) landscape paintings with hand-stitching on raw canvas that were hand sewn with black thread to white artist grade non-acid paper. Speck said the paintings are based on memories from the 11-year time span she has lived in Rockport with her family.
“There are locations near my house that I travel by often that get my attention every time – like near Estes Flats. Another is by Little Bay along Fulton Beach Road or just off Water Street on the bay in Rockport; the clouds and reflections on the water there are spectacular,” Speck said. “When reflecting on the aftereffects of Hurricane Harvey, the landscapes and those memories are very broken, torn, and fragmented. This is where the needle and thread come into play in my work – they represent repair and healing for both the environment and the community in Rockport.”
A Rockport native, Fuller is a senior sculpture major who is a member of the Rockport Center for the Arts and the Piecemakers by the Bay Area Quilt Guild. She is planning to make quilts from clothing donated by Rockport artists.
“In planning for the exhibition, I have been reflecting on the support that our art community shows one another, through good and hard times. I want to be able to showcase this in textile works, while also bringing attention to the current times,” Fuller said. “I have reached out to fellow Rockport artists and asked if they would be willing to donate their old jeans. With these jeans, I plan on creating works that emphasize our supportive community.”
Leticia Bajuyo, A&M-Corpus Christi Associate Professor of Art, said she is especially proud of her students for being selected alongside an impressive list of artists.
“The New Normal grants have made a significant difference in the lives and careers of several Rockport artists by financially supporting creative development during this complicated time,” Bajuyo said. “As Jamie and Juleanna both look forward to graduation and beyond at the end of this fall 2020 term, this award will significantly support the next steps of their studio practice and artistic careers.”
Speck, who serves an art instructor at the Island University, said the grant award is especially meaningful in difficult economic times.
“When the oil industry was booming, especially in South Texas, I noticed a great increase in art sales and associated tourism. Then beginning with Hurricane Harvey and leading into the COVID-19 pandemic and the current economy and political upheaval, it has been very difficult as a practicing artist to continue to have exhibits or make art sales,” Speck said. “This artist grant opportunity …is truly a blessing to artists in our community.”
Fuller said it was a humbling experience for her to be awarded the maximum grant amount as an undergraduate student.
“I feel as artists we often have may projects, series and works that we would love to create and share but don’t have it within our means to bring them to life,” Fuller said. “Opportunities like the New Normal grant give artists the chance to be able to share our passions with others.”