Arts & Culture

Is It Harder For Refugees In Houston To Make A Living As Artists?

News 88.7 Arts and Culture reporter Amy Bishop met up with two immigrant artists to hear their stories.

Listen

To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code:

<iframe src="https://embed.hpm.io/172551/172548" style="height: 115px; width: 100%;"></iframe>
X
  • Juan Carlos Fuentes at his home in Katy
    Juan Carlos Fuentes at his home in Katy
  • Juan Carlos Fuentes at his home in Katy
    Juan Carlos Fuentes at his home in Katy
  • Mohammed Baro,56, fled from Syria to Iraq when he was 8 and came to the U.S. six years ago.
    Mohammed Baro,56, fled from Syria to Iraq when he was 8 and came to the U.S. six years ago.
  • Mohammed Baro,56, fled from Syria to Iraq when he was 8 and came to the U.S. six years ago.
    Mohammed Baro,56, fled from Syria to Iraq when he was 8 and came to the U.S. six years ago.
  • Mohammed Baro,56, fled from Syria to Iraq when he was 8 and came to the U.S. six years ago.
    Mohammed Baro,56, fled from Syria to Iraq when he was 8 and came to the U.S. six years ago.
  • Mohammed Baro,56, fled from Syria to Iraq when he was 8 and came to the U.S. six years ago.
    Mohammed Baro,56, fled from Syria to Iraq when he was 8 and came to the U.S. six years ago.
  • Mohammed Baro,56, fled from Syria to Iraq when he was 8 and came to the U.S. six years ago.
    Mohammed Baro,56, fled from Syria to Iraq when he was 8 and came to the U.S. six years ago.

Juan Carlos Fuentes often blares music from the tiny speakers on his iPhone when he paints, listening to everything from Vivaldi to salsa. In his studio at his home in Katy, there's a wooden boat oar on his easel. On the front, he's painting the portrait of a Cuban woman. Fuentes says it symbolizes the dangers the refugees face when crossing the ocean by raft.

"When the Cuban people immigrate to the United States, they sacrifice life looking for freedom," he says. Fuentes, who is Cuban, has been in Houston since 2008. He's one of the artists featured in an art show hosted by Houston's YMCA.

"We know that a lot of refugees who come here worked as artists in their home countries," says YMCA spokesperson Heather Saucier. "We wanted to help them get back to doing that." Saucier says one of the biggest obstacles for immigrant and refugee artists is the language barrier.

Mohammed Baro, 56, fled from Syria to Iraq when he was 8 and became a successful artist as an adult before immigrating to Houston six years ago. Much of his work involves political statements about Middle Eastern conflicts.

Through a translator, he explains his situation. "As an artist who came to a new country, he still is trying to figure out how to make his living and how to focus on his art," he says.

Baro and Fuentes are two of six immigrants taking part in Triumph of the Human Spirit: Works from Houston’s Refugee and Immigrant Artists is Friday night from 6-9 at St. John's School, 2401 Claremont Lane, Houston.

Subscribe to Today in Houston

Fill out the form below to subscribe our new daily editorial newsletter from the HPM Newsroom.

* required

Share