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Visual Art

Houston-Area Artists Invited To ‘Bare All’ On A Sensitive Subject

Debtfair aims to expose the grim reality of the ongoing debt crisis and how it can affect a person’s career.


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Picture of artist Gissette Padilla
Amy Bishop
Gissette Padilla, one of the Houston-area artists taking part in Debtfair at Art League Houston.

Artists are certainly not the only people struggling with debt, but those taking part in Debtfair are willing to expose their reality to the public.

Jennie Ash is the visual arts director at Art League Houston, the organization hosting the fair.

"The project is really about exposing the relationship between economic inequality in the art market and artists' rising debt burdens," Ash says.

Some of those burdens include rising rent costs in traditionally arts-related communities, like Montrose. And then there's student loan debt.

"You're wanting to do a program that really emphasizes what making art is about and wanting to use that in forms of ‘Okay, I want to teach, so I need that degree in order to teach in the college level,'" says Gissette Padilla, one of the artists taking part in the project. "But you're getting yourself into so much debt for it."

Artists are asked to submit one work that's of equal value to their monthly debt payment. Then the pieces are grouped as bundles, based on the institutions where the money is owed. If someone buys the bundle, the payment will go directly to the lenders.

But Debtfair's purpose isn't so much about selling. It's more about bringing to light the crippling debt crisis that can affect pursuing other opportunities—not just for artists, but everybody.

The deadline for registration is Friday, October 30th, followed by the artwork drop off dates on November 11th and 12th. The exhibition opens November 20th.