Apr 22 2021

CWMCA Artists-in-Residence Spotlight: Conversation with Shaun Leonardo

Thursday, April 22, 2021
6:00pm—8:30pm CT
Free and open to the public

Streaming Options
Join the Zoom meeting: Register Here

Three educators and administrators invested in the possibilities of youth development convene to speak of the passion, tenacity and willingness needed at the center of their practices, while interrogating definitions of failure and success in their work.

Join Elwyn C. Lee (Vice President for Community Relations and Institutional Access, University of Houston), Marvin Pierre (Co-Founder and Executive Director, Eight Million Stories, Houston) and Shaun Leonardo (Artist and Co-Director, Recess, Brooklyn) as they discuss the guiding principles of their institutional work amid the converging traumas of the pandemic and ongoing racial injustice, and against the backdrop of a changing landscape of juvenile justice reform, in both New York City and Houston.

Shaun Leonardo’s multidisciplinary work negotiates societal expectations of manhood, namely definitions surrounding black and brown masculinities, along with its notions of achievement, collective identity, and experience of failure. His performance practice, anchored by his work in Assembly–a diversion program for court-involved youth at the Brooklyn-based, non-profit Recess–is participatory and invested in a process of embodiment. Leonardo is a Brooklyn-based artist from Queens, New York City. He received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, is a recipient of support from Creative Capital, Guggenheim Social Practice, Art for Justice and A Blade of Grass, and was recently profiled in the New York Times. His work has been featured at The Guggenheim Museum, the High Line, and New Museum, with a recent solo exhibition at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). From fall 2018 through spring 2020, Leonardo enacted socially engaged projects at Pratt Institute as the School of Art, Visiting Fellow. Learn more:

Marvin Pierre is a native New Yorker. He currently serves as the Executive Director of 8 Million Stories. Prior to joining 8 Million Stories, he was selected as a Bridge Fellow with The New Teacher Project, Marvin focused his fellowship on developing an alternative education program called “8 Million Stories”. The program seeks to upend the school-to-prison pipeline by supporting previously incarcerated youth as they re-enter school, and curbing unnecessary referrals from schools to the justice system in Houston, TX. Marvin also served as the Assistant Principal at KIPP Polaris Academy for Boys in Houston, Texas. Prior to joining KIPP Polaris, he served as the Dean of Students at Excellence Boys Charter School in Brooklyn, NY. Marvin also worked in finance at Goldman, Sachs & Co. Marvin holds a B.A. in Economics from Trinity College (Hartford, CT) and a Masters in Education Administration and Supervision from the University of Houston. Marvin is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He is an American Leadership Forum Fellow (Class XLI) alumni and was selected into the inaugural class for Leadership ISD. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Tabor Academy. Marvin is currently proposing to open an innovative high school in August 2022 called The Justice Hub. Learn more:

This event is held in conjunction with the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts 2020-2021 Artists-in-Residence Spotlight (April 17—25). Blaffer Art Museum is pleased to present a reflection, and extension, of the generative work conducted by a trio of artists invited to the University of Houston by the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts. Since its inception in 2005, the CWMCA has welcomed pioneering interdisciplinary artists on a yearly basis to conceive projects that connect signature elements of their research and practice with students, faculty, and community organizations. In the 2020-2021 season, via a combination of virtual conferencing, in-person visits, collaboration, adaptation, and improvisation, artists Brandon Ballengee, Marisa Morán Jahn, and Shaun Leonardo have produced projects that we hope will have a lasting impact on the campus, community, and city.

Learn more about the CWMCA 2020-2021 Artists-in-Residence Spotlight.