HMAAC presents Ellsworth Ausby: Odyssey

Experience Black History month all year round!


Diana Navarro

Ellsworth Ausby photo by Blaise Tobia 1978 for the CCF CETA Artists Project.

Diana Navarro, Student Writer

Houston – Attention Museum and culture lovers! The Houston Museum of African American Culture presents Ellsworth Ausby’s art exhibition from Feb 4. through April 8. The exhibit consists of 18 works created by Ausby between 1970-1976, including Space Odyssey 1980.

Built-in 2000, The Houston Museum of American Culture (HMAAC), is centered on showcasing the vibrancy of African and African American culture and art forms. The museum has two floors and three art rooms, including a gift shop on the first floor with items from local black artists and vendors.

Upon entry, you will see, a small gallery next to a gift shop. Following the small gallery, you’re greeted with the stairwell of the permanent memory exhibition of George Floyd, Sandra Bland, and Robbie Tolan. They’re a living reminder of how police brutality affects the community, but to remember their stories for all audiences to learn. On the second level, you notice a gallery filled with natural light to your left and a smaller low-light gallery to your right.

Ellsworth Ausby Untitled, 1974 Acrylic on canvas (Diana Navarro)

As the first exhibition of the year around all three galleries, chief curator Christopher Blay brought to town the works of Ellsworth Ausby. Ausby was an impactful African American artist whose work is unstretched canvases stapled directly to the wall. I had the opportunity of interviewing the curator more about Ausby’s artworks and Blay states, “Recognizing that as an abstract painter, Ellsworth Ausby isn’t talked about in the same way as his other contemporary who was Ellsworth Kelly.” Ellsworth Kelly is widely known for his Minimalism, Hard-edge painting, Color Field, and Pop Art artworks like Ausby. Ausby incorporated bright colors through abstract works to show a deep-rooted African aesthetic and cultural heritage. One example is his Untitled acrylic on canvas, made in 1974. A big yellow painting that has ten triangles going around stitched together is the perfect example of abstraction.

Ellsworth Ausby Untitled, 1970 Painted wood (Diana Navarro)

For most of the artworks, Ausby made during the 70s, he was into pragmatic and obelisk shapes, shown in his Untitled sculpture he made for a performance in 1978 for the American Museum of Natural History.

Although this exhibit is during black history month, curator Blay explains: “The museum’s mission is to share the culture of African Americans both here and across the African diaspora. So, we don’t focus on one month of the year to show our culture, which is the unique mission of African American cultural museums. It’s this idea that we want to represent our culture and show that it’s part of the more eminent American culture, but it’s marginalized.”

Chief Curator Christopher Blay (Diana Navarro)

The main goal of HMAAC is to give a platform for African American artists all year round to fix the disparity. The Museum also has open mics for those who want to express their work through poetry every third Thursday of each month. To stay up to date with their events they can be found on their Instagram @houstonmaac and their website

HMAAC is open to all audiences with free admission from Thursday to Saturday, 11 AM to 6 PM located at 4807 Caroline St. Houston, Tx 77004