Updated on February 25: The Kinfolk House opening reception has been rescheduled to March 5. Originally slated for Saturday, February 26, the reception was postponed related to COVID-19. Go here for more information.
A 100-year-old historic home in Fort Worth has been reinvigorated with purpose thanks to a husband-and-wife duo who want to breathe new life into the community.
This week internationally celebrated artists Sedrick and Letitia Huckaby announced Kinfolk House, a collaborative project space that aims to explore the intersections of life, cultural pursuits, and artistry.
The home is nestled within 1.5 acres of land near the epicenter of Fort Worth’s Polytechnic neighborhood, a predominantly Black and Latino area that has been historically underserved. It’s been in Sedrick’s family for generations.
The Huckabys wanted a way to create firsthand connections and foster relationships with residents and community members that share an artistic vision. At the same time, Kinfolk House offers a way for Sedrick to pay homage to his grandmother—and the resident’s former owner—Hallie Beatrice Carpenter, who was known to friends and family as “Big Momma.”
“She had the most amazing ability to create an environment that everyone, no matter how different they were, felt welcomed to and at home,” Sedrick said of his grandmother. “I hope Kinfolk House can do the same.”
At its heart, Kinfolk House is a way to celebrate, uplift, and commemorate the beauty and culture of the Polytechnic neighborhood. It blurs the lines between a traditional community space and art gallery to investigate creativity outside preconceived notions of art.
Starting this fall, the non-traditional house will soft-launch will neighborhood and community-focused events. Later, the Huckabys will host collaborative exhibitions, educational programming, and partnerships with like-minded individuals.
All initiatives will focus on informal learning practices that aim to create a long-lasting effect on visitors through insight and wisdom. That involves exploring design, culture, fashion, alternative forms of art, and more.
The co-founders wish to stay in touch with the voices of Poly residents. That involves taking their needs into account, while fostering Kinfolk House into an “artistic light that the community will be proud to have,” Letitia said.
Both Huckabys want to build the house’s foundation “outside the preconceived ideas of what art is'” to open guests to the exploration of how life, culture, and artistry intersects.
That means painting outside the lines.
Former DMA exec to lead the house
“It’s rare to have the opportunity to help build a space from the ground up that truly aligns with your personal vision and goals,” Kinfolk House Director Jessica Fuentes said in a statement. “Kinfolk House will be a place that supports artists, celebrates community, is informed by and invested in the local neighborhood, and inspires creativity, dialogue, and reflection.”
Fuentes was appointed in the role of director due to her vast background as an art administrator, educator, and advocate, as well as artist. She has created accessible exhibitions, self-guided learning experiences, and programs throughout her more than 15-year career.
Previously, Fuentes was the manager of School & Community Outreach for the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. She has also worked as a manger of gallery interpretation at the Dallas Museum of Art, member of the F6 Gallery Collective and 500x Gallery, and served on the board of Make Art with Purpose (MAP), Artes de la Rosa, and the Education Planning Committee for the Smithsonian Latino Center.
A family affair
Hallie Beatrice Carpenter’s legacy is infused into every aspect of Kinfolk House—specifically, the Huckabys say, the “conviction that creativity exists in many vastly different forms.”
The goal is that the space will serve as a cornerstone to Big Momma’s creative force. The house remained in the family when she passed in 2008, and Sedrick later purchased it in 2010 with the motivation that it would one day be a welcoming space to embody art in the heart of Fort Worth.
Sedrick intends Kinfolk House to be a reinvestment back into the community that invested in him. He says it’s a genuine act of love for his family and hometown.
Kinfolk House is just the latest creative endeavor for the Huckabys, who are both prominent artists.
Sedrick has received a Guggenheim award, Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant, American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, and a Lewis Comfort Tiffany Award. He was also named the Texas State Artist in 2018 and a finalist in the 2019 Outwin Boochever Competition Exhibition administered by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.
Letitia has exhibited at Phillips New York, the Tyler Museum of Art, The Studio School of Harlem, Renaissance Fine Art, The McKenna Museum, the Camden Palace Hotel, and the Texas Biennial at Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum. Her work is included in the Library of Congress, the McNay Art Museum, the Art Museum of Southeast Texas, the Brandywine Workshop, and the Samella Lewis Contemporary Art Collection at Scripps College.
Kinfolk House holds the Huckabys’ individual identities—including Letitia’s ancestral homeland of Greenwood, Louisiana—and the Black American tradition passed down across generations.
They hope each visitor will leave, fittingly, with family ties: as kinfolk.
Kinfolk House’s grand opening is currently scheduled for February 2022.
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