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November 29, 2022

Come on in: At Fort Worth’s Kinfolk House, art and community converge

Artists Letitia and Sedrick Huckaby transformed a century-old family house into a collaborative project space

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Since opening its doors this past March in Fort Worth’s Polytechnic Heights neighborhood, Kinfolk House has served as a creative hub for all. Founded by artists Letitia and Sedrick Huckaby, its exhibitions, special events and workshops nurture the intersection of art and life, all while maintaining a focus on community and inclusivity.

“We want to make the whole world see our common kinship, that we are all kinfolk in one way or another,” said Sedrick. “However, we don’t have to change who we are to do that; instead, we can take a load off and just be ourselves. At Kinfolk House, grandeur and the ordinary go hand and hand. We hope that all people will feel at home in a wonderfully creative space.”

Kinfolk House
Leticia Huckaby, left, and Sedrick Huckaby transformed his grandmother’s century-old house in Fort Worth into a community arts space. Photos courtesy Kinfolk House

Kinfolk House occupies the former home of Sedrick’s grandmother Hallie Beatrice Carpenter, more affectionately known as Big Momma. Built in 1900, the historic home was purchased by Big Momma and her husband, Marcos John Carpenter, in 1984. Following her death in 2008, Letitia and Sedrick bought the property from family members and soon the idea for the arts organization took shape.

“Sedrick was the driving force for us to open Kinfolk House,” said Letitia. “He really wanted to take his grandmother’s house and make it into something wonderful that would be a blessing to his family, the community and the larger art world.”

To help launch and lead the organization, the Huckabys selected longtime Fort Worth artist and educator Jessica Fuentes as Kinfolk House’s director. With years of art education experience, she has held positions in both classrooms and at institutions including the Dallas Museum of Art and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Fuentes also currently serves as the news editor for Glasstire.



To date, Kinfolk House exhibitions have been thematic. On view through Nov. 12, “Formation” features the artwork of Jenelle Esparza, Earline Green and Emily Mayo. Through installations and sculptural works, including ceramics and textiles, the artists explore ideas of home, labor, land and rebirth. It follows on the heels of “Congregate,” which spotlighted art by Colby Deal, Skip Hill and Angela Faz which focused on themes of community and culture as well as the isolation and societal effects of the pandemic.

Kinfolk House opened in March with “Welcome,” showing work by Letitia and Sedrick. Centered around faith, family and tradition, the exhibition was a celebration of both the legacy of Big Momma, whose maiden name was Welcome, and the future of the space.

Kinfolk House
Built in 1900, the bungalow housing Kinfolk House in Fort Worth’s Polytechnic neighborhood, a predominantly Black and Latino community. Photo courtesy Kinfolk House
Kinfolk House
Art work by Angela Faz
Kinfolk House
Art work by Jenelle Esparza is featured in the exhibition “Formation” on view through Nov. 12. Photo courtesy Kinfolk House

For “Welcome,” Letitia retraced the path that Carpenter traveled when she moved from her hometown of Weimar, Texas, to Fort Worth. Stopping along Hwy. 77 and I-35, Letitia photographed the landscape, connecting Big Momma’s past with the present. Sedrick, who has drawn inspiration from Big Momma and her home for years, exhibited paintings and mixed media works from prior to her death up to the present day. The Huckabys’ works were accompanied by a selection of Carpenter’s belongings and audio recordings, adding yet another direct link to her.

Public programs and gatherings play a big role at Kinfolk House.

“We have been delighted with the response to Kinfolk House by the community,” said Letitia. “The programming around the exhibitions has been the main draw to the neighborhood. We get more and more participation with each event. It’s a process, but we are moving in the right direction.”

There’s been a community-wide cookout, a critique event for local artists, and a papier-mâché sculpting class with Sedrick.

“Sometimes when you work on a big idea, the results can be very different from the original idea,” said Sedrick. “Since this is a large and complicated idea, I was ready to accept that it might not live up to my expectations. However, Kinfolk House is very close to the vision. Needless to say, I am very pleased with the outcome.”

Kinfolk House
Sedrick and Letitia Huckaby lead a critique of work by local artists, one of many community programs at Kinfolk House. Photo by Caleb Bell

Kinfolk House is just one of the Huckaby’s many artistic pursuits. Both busy and well-regarded artists with national reputations, the couple resides in Fort Worth with their three children, Rising Sun, Halle Lujah and Rhema Rain. Letitia was selected as this year’s Texas Artist of the Year by Art League Houston where she has a solo show through Dec. 3. Sedrick is one of eight artists to be included in “Kinship” opening Oct. 28 at the National Portrait Gallery.

Both are also art educators. Sedrick teaches painting at the University of Texas at Arlington, where he has taught since 2007. Letitia currently holds a visiting professorship at the University of North Texas.

“My hope for the future of Kinfolk House is to continue on the trajectory we have started,” said Letitia. “I would love to see the community engage even more and start to take ownership of the space. I want visitors to come to the Polytechnic neighborhood and feel Kinfolk House’s presence throughout.”

 

Kinfolk House is located at 1913 Wallace Street, Fort Worth. Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday-Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. kinfolkhouse.org

 


Caleb Bell
Caleb Bellhttp://www.cbellprojects.com/
Caleb Bell is a writer and the curator at the Tyler Museum of Art. Bell’s writing and curatorial practices work to expand the conversation around creativity and connect audiences with art.

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