Convening 2020

Online, Apr 23 – May 3

About the Convening

The Common Field Convening – originally scheduled to take place in Houston, TX from April 23 - 26, 2020  moves online in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. In this unprecedented situation, there remains an urgent need to stay connected, build knowledge from the field and create a growing set of broadly-shared resources accessible to all. To that end, registration for this year’s virtual Convening is FREE.

PLEASE NOTE that ALL times listed are Central Daylight Time (CDT). All sessions will take place virtually on Zoom.

The Convening is a critical platform for artists organizations and organizers from across the US. We are profoundly grateful to our Houston Partners, the extended Houston community, and hundreds of participating arts organizers nationwide for their incredible, ongoing dedication to the program. We draw inspiration from these extraordinary collaborators as we affirm our commitment to building platforms that engage with shared histories, create new connections, combat the physical isolation of our current reality, and strategize evolved forms of collectivity and caretaking. 

Check out the Convening archive here to learn more about our history and the past five Convening programs. To stay informed and get regular updates and notifications, be sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and sign-up for our newsletter.


We are living in unprecedented times. As we are pulled every day between urgent responsibilities to family, community, work and our own well-being, the ongoing labor of envisioning a shared future can feel incredibly taxing. Still, this focus on the present – on the immediacy of our needs – is also a reminder of our agency in affecting and meeting critical obligations. We at Common Field are hopeful that out of this crisis will emerge a stronger and emboldened collective movement for good. The Common Field Convening seeks to catalyze this work by facilitating a gathering of arts organizers to envision and enact a more equitable, collaborative and sustainable field moving forward. We are grateful that you have chosen to join us in this process, to take part in this experimental gathering, and to hold space for yourselves and each other in this difficult moment. We hope to build stronger ties and greater knowledge throughout and beyond this collaborative virtual exchange.


Lead support for the Common Field Convening has been provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional significant support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts

This project is also funded in part by the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance and Stardust Arts


To find out how to support the Common Field Convening and join as a sponsor, please please contact Courtney Fink, Executive Director at courtney [​at​]


Land Acknowledgment

Transparency, respect and collaboration across difference are grounding values of Common Field – and we aspire to put these values into action by acknowledging and supporting the diversity of our field. We begin our welcome by first acknowledging that the land on which we intended to have this gathering in person is the ancestral and unceded land of the Karahkawa, Akokisa, Sana, and Atakapa Peoples – also known as Houston, Texas. As we gather online from many places, we urge participants to consider where they are and with which indigenous peoples and cultures they are in relationship:

Community Agreements

The organizers of the Common Field Convening strive to create an open and inclusive environment in which participants feel empowered to take risks and engage in challenging discussions. We see the need for safer spaces in all organizing and are committed to it as a part of our work. We encourage our attendees to learn how to create such spaces in each of our gatherings and adopt such practices pertinent to their own organizing. Below are some principles that guide our commitment to collective practice:


  • Hold ourselves accountable first, and enter each space with a humble heart and loving criticality.​ Center care in our interactions with others and in representing our own needs.

  • In order to grow a common field that is truly intersectional and inclusive, we need to recognize that inequity is systemic. Before entering each organizing space, take a moment to acknowledge our own differences and be honest about our own privileges and power. ​Make a conscious effort to resist ableism, racism, classism, ageism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia in our language, imagery, and examples.

  • Prioritize listening is essential in creating inclusive space. When we listen, center the voices of people with disability, trans & queer, black & brown, low-income, non-English speaking or other non-white folks. Silence can be helpful especially when it means we are actively listening and processing.

  • Rather than reacting to one’s immediate need to manage disagreement or achieve perfection, give space for discomfort, mistakes, vulnerability and non-closure. It is often through mistakes and discomfort that we grow.

  • Respect each other's privacy and personal boundaries, including confidentiality. Understand that safety, accessibility and personal boundaries mean different things for different people. The way to create a safer and more accessible space for everyone is to ask respectfully and learn from one another interpersonally.

  • Have fun. Take breaks. Allow space for yourself and others to enter and leave according to their needs.

  • The planning of our convenings is always a collaborative and learning effort with many different parties involved. We welcome any suggestions and feedback that will help us to take better care of each other intentionally and creatively throughout the convening and beyond. If you encounter any difficulties during the event, please do not hesitate to email us at hello [​at​]


Access Needs

Common Field believes in creating a fully accessible space for all attendees. To that end, all Convening sessions will be captioned. Please let us know any additional accessibility needs (listening devices, ASL interpretation, or otherwise) as you register for individual sessions. The earlier we know, the better we can prepare. 

We welcome you to follow-up via email at convening [​at​] to make sure your request was received.


Gender Neutrality

As we get to know one another, we ask that all attendees inquire respectfully about one another’s preferred gender pronouns. Don’t assume someone’s gender by appearance or name, and use gender neutral language in presentations and discussions when possible.

As you enter a session gathering, feel free to share information about yourself (including your name, pronouns, location, and any affiliations) in the Zoom chat.


Parent/Caregiver Inclusion

Many of us are juggling increased care work as schools and daycares are closed. A larger-than-usual number of young ones may participate in the Convening this year, so we ask that all attendees are patient and generous with this current reality. For parents and caregivers, please be mindful of the sound of toys, play, and other potential disruptions by putting yourself on mute when your child is participating.

Be aware that, unless otherwise noted, all sessions will be recorded and posted online. By participating in the session, you consent to this recording which may include your child/ren. Please reach out to Maude at convening [​at​] if you have any questions or concerns around this issue.

Zoom Guidelines
  • All Convening Sessions are held over ZOOM
  • Download and install ZOOM for desktop or mobile devices at
  • Common Field has published a Zoom Attendee Guide for all Convening participants. SEE BELOW. 
  • We also encourage you to review the Common Field Community Agreements and in advance of the Session you'll be attending.
  • Please arrive 5 mins in advance to ensure you’re connected and ready to go. Some sessions have a waiting room. You will be given access to the session by the Common Field 'Zoom Pilot."

Zoom Guide for Attendees
Thanks for joining the Common Field 2020 Convening sessions via Zoom! Here are some tips and best practices for making the most of the experience in this online platform.

  • Mute: Your feed will be set to mute on arrival to the session. Please remain muted unless you are speaking. You can unmute yourself by selecting the microphone icon in the lower right corner of the Zoom pop-up window.

  • Video: We encourage those taking part in smaller sessions where conversation is integral to join by video. Select the camera icon the second from left in the lower left corner of the Zoom pop-up window to turn your video on or off.

  • View: You can select the view of presenters and attendees that you prefer—either Gallery View full of video tiles or Speaker View, which highlights the current speaker—by clicking on the tile icon or people icon in the top right corner of the Zoom pop-up window.

  • Participants: Click on the “Participants” icon in the center of the bottom row of tools to see a list of all participants, including yourself, and to make changes such as changing your screen name.

  • Name & Pronouns: Please rename yourself to include your pronouns after your name so that everyone in the session knows how to refer to you by clicking the blue “...” button either in the top right of your video feed tile or over your name in the Participant list and selecting “Rename.”

    • Smaller sessions may invite you to share your name, pronouns, location, and affiliations in the Chat window.

  • Chat: Use the chat function to ask questions within the session, or to give feedback to or ask a question of the Zoom Pilot. Click “Chat” in the center of the bottom row of icons to open the Chat window.

  • Breakout Rooms: Some sessions have small group breakouts for conversations. The Zoom Pilot will assign you to a group and bring everyone back together again afterward.

  • Background: Please be aware of what’s in your background and minimize distractions in the session. 

  • Kids & Babies: Are welcome to join! Please be aware of sound or other distractions to the session.

Technical Issues

  • We're doing our best to make participating in the Online Common Field Convening simple for you and enjoyable for all. Sometimes, however, technology does not cooperate. We ask that you let us know how we could have made the experience better for you through a survey that will be sent to all convening participants after your session.
Scholarship Recipients

25 awardees were selected from a competitive pool of more than 130 applicants representing the artist organization field across the country. Each proposal was carefully reviewed by a jury of peers and Common Field Board Members including Jackie Clay (Coleman Center for the Arts), Jessica Lynne (ARTS.BLACK) and Sarah Williams (Women’s Center for Creative Work).

Unfortunately, the Scholarship was nullified by COVID-19 and our subsequent decision to move the Houston Convening online and offer all participants access, free-of-charge. However, we share recipient's names here to acknowledge their contributions and committment to the artist-centered field:

  • Jamie Grace Alexander, Gender Museum (Baltimore, MD)

  • Blake Allen, New Orleans African American Museum, Research Fellow (New Orleans, LA)

  • Jaime Bailon, The Oxnard Plain, Artist and publisher (Oxnard, CA)

  • Rikki Byrd, Artists in the Room (AIR), PhD Student at Northwestern University (Chicago, IL)

  • Lydia Cheshewalla, PostTraditional, (Tulsa, OK)

  • Pamela Council, Artist (Blaxidermy, US)

  • Jenna Crowder, The Chart, Co-Founding Editor (Portland, ME)

  • Axel Daisy, IMMEDIATE Fashion School, Initiator (Seattle, WA)

  • An Duplan, Recess, Program Manager (Brooklyn, NY)

  • Jayeesha Dutta, Co-Founder, Artist, Cultural Organizer; and Yudith Nieto Organizer, Interpreter, Artist. Another Gulf is Possible (New Orleans, LA)

  • Esther Ervin, James and Janie Washington Foundation (Seattle, WA)

  • R. Josiah Golson, 800 Collective, Civic Artist (Chattanooga, TN)

  • Yvonna J, Elsewhere, Communications Manager (Greensboro, NC)

  • t. tran le, Asian American Writers' Workshop, Public Events & Workshops Coordinator (New York City, NY)

  • April Danielle Lewis, Open Works, Membership Manager ( Baltimore, MD)

  • Kristan H. McKinsey, Illinois Women Artists Project, Director (Peoria, IL)

  • Ashley Stull Meyers, Independent Curator, (Portland, OR)

  • Cassie Mira, The Seattle Residency Project, Artist-in-residence (Seattle, WA)

  • Megan Mueller, ECF Art Centers ( Los Angeles, CA)

  • Sarah Myose, Harvester Arts, Community Fellow (Wichita, KS)

  • Jules Rochielle, Artist (Brooklyn, NY)

  • Daniel Totten, Red Hook Community Center, Makerspace Founder and Program Coordinator (Red Hook, NY)

  • Susie Ximenez, Latinx Project , Founder (Hudson Valley, NY)

  • Nina N. Yeboah, Independent Arts Programmer (Stone Mountain, GA)

More information on each recipient is available here.

Cancelled Houston Partner Programs & Events

Common Field has been working with Houston-based Partners, Advocates, and Supporters since September 2018 to organize this year’s Convening. The collaboration focused on identifying and centering core issues for the local artist organizing field, developing long-term capacity-building goals in support of the city’s artist community, and curating programs, commissions, and events showcasing Houston's organizers, organizations, and artists for our national network. Our partners — Art League Houston, Aurora Picture Show, DiverseWorks, Emilý Æyer, Emily Sloan, Galveston Arts Center, Henry G. Sanchez (Law Office Center for Citizenship and Art + The BioArt Bayou-torium), Jessi Bowman, Lawndale, Matt Manalo, Megan Sparks (The Resistance Healing Clinic), Moe Penders, Project Row Houses, Reyes Ramirez, and Rothko Chapel — have shaped a tremendous slate of programs engaging over 100 Houston-based artists, writers, and organizers. 

We are heartbroken that the COVID-19 crisis – and our subsequent adaptation to an online Convening – has resulted in the cancellation of several partner-organized programs. Designed to center the remarkable Houston community, these programs were necessarily site-specific, embodied, and experiential – and simply could not adapt themselves for the virtual sphere.


Project Row Houses
Collective Creative Actions: Art & Equitable Community Development
(Pre-Convening Program)

with Eureka Gilkey, Ryan Dennis, Assata Richards, Alicia Neal, and Libby Bland

Join us for a day in the ‘Tre! Learn about Project Row Houses (PRH)’ 26 years of disrupting displacement and subverting gentrification while celebrating and elevating the rich culture of one of Houston’s most historic neighborhoods. Tour the PRH site, visit other significant cultural assets in the neighborhood (including Emancipation Park Blue Triangle YMCA, Jack Yates High School, Riverside Hospital, Texas Southern University, Unity Bank, faith institutions and art interventions along Emancipation Avenue) and engage with a panel of leading practitioners. And, of course, we’ll eat. Executive Director Eureka Gilkey and Art Programs Director Ryan Dennis will be your guides. 


Galveston Arts Center
Galveston Day Trip
(Pre-Convening Program)

with Dennis Nance, Eric Schnell, Nick Barbee, Jessica Ninci and Dan Schmahl

This pre-convening day trip to Galveston Island includes visits to exhibitions and artist studios at Galveston Arts Center and the Galveston Artist Residency, artist-run projects Rising Tide Projects and the Galveston Art Lending Library, along with a bus tour of historic sites on the island.

Located an hour south of Houston, Galveston is a barrier island whose history is anchored by a series of storm events the city has battled to overcome. The visit highlights projects by artists working with waterways and in response to rising sea levels, as well as the unique social, historical, and environmental challenges this coastal community faces.


Art League Houston + Mystic Lyon
Welcome to Houston - A road trip through the city: A geographic grounding tour
(Pre-Convening Program)

with Eepi Chaad and Emily Sloan

Houston is HUGE! The city is a vast landscape and can be hard to navigate to newcomers. There are many facets to living in this city and one common shared experience is engaging with the city while sitting in a vehicle. 

This pre-convening tour will invite Common Field attendees on a 2.5 hour van tour of the heart of the city that explores the geographic proximity of a series of unique communities. The tour will access neighborhood arterial roads as well as Houston’s massive freeway system to give participants a sense of scale within the city.

Participants will tour the inner ring of neighborhoods that surround Downtown Houston and tour guides will share stories of each community including histories of migration and settlement, arts & culture, land use, and current development. The tour will help attendees ground themselves in the geography of the city and provide context for sessions and projects presented by denizens of the city during the Convening.


THOSE WHO DESIRE Swamp Things: How Houston was Built with Mud, Bricks, and Mayhem
(Pre-Convening Program)

with Vinod Hopson

In 1836, brothers Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen stepped out of a boat onto the muddy banks of Buffalo Bayou, and hatched plans for Houston's very first real estate scam. From that original, ignominious origin, our big, beautiful city was born.

Do we love this city?! You bet your sweet, sweaty ass we do! But history doesn't need to be old and musty. Are you interested in a more modern, and nuanced version of the old stories you've heard before? Or maybe you're interested in the stories that aren't getting told? Do you want to see this city for what it really is, warts and all? Then this is the tour for you! Join this walking tour through the oldest part of the city, and confront its forgotten, and ignored past.


Aurora Picture Show
Kick-Off Party

Hosted by Aurora Picture Show, Deborah Colton Gallery, and Stardust Arts

Let us welcome you to Houston and mark the beginning of the Convening with an evening of music and community! 

This festive event welcomes Convening participants for socializing, music, performance, and projections. Includes a brief performance by interdisciplinary artist Lisa E. Harris, multiple mobile projections by Pablo Gimenez Zapiola, immersive, interactive video installation by Input/Output, and an eclectic selection of music and sounds provided by DJs Peter Lucas and Flash Gordon Parks.


Closing Night Party

with Emilý Æyer, Moe Penders, Imani Stevens, and Reyes Ramirez

Help celebrate the conclusion of Common Field’s 2020 Convening with a building-wide party at Lawndale. We’ll conclude our Convening programming with music, performance, video, cocktails, and closing remarks. 

Space: What does it mean to take up space? How can we as artists, as queer people, as black and brown people, respond to the constant and systemic gentrification efforts by developers and the city of Houston? Please join us for an evening of dinner, dancing, conversation, and performance work with artists Natalia Barrientos and Jessica Gonzalez, Raven Crane, Megan Easley, Slant Rhyme, S. Rodriguez, and Imani Stevens.


Rothko Chapel 
Behind the Scenes Tour: Rothko Chapel, Menil Drawing Institute, Houston Center for Photography and TransArt Foundation for Art and Anthropology

with Ashley Clemmer of Rothko Chapel, Surpik Angelini of TransArt, artist Dawn DeDeaux and more!

Spend the morning visiting four Houston art institutions located in the Montrose Community. The tour will include a hardhat walk through the Rothko Chapel to learn about the current restoration project and view the new skylight and recently opened Visitor Welcome House, a curator-led visit to the Menil Collection Drawing Institute opened in 2018, a director-guided experience of the Houston Center for Photography and new exhibit Tools of Revolution: Fashion Photography and Activism featuring Dana Scruggs, Ariel Bob Willis, and Micaiah Carter with works inspired by Kwame Brathwaite, and a talk at TransArt Foundation for Anthropology by founder Surpik Angelini and artist Dawn DeDeaux

Houston Convening Partners

Houston Convening Partners are a group of dedicated arts organizing leaders working with Common Field to shape the Convening program, planned sites, commissions, and local goals for long-term impact. Partners are not only visionary leaders and collaborators on this project, but materially supported the work of this gathering by sharing space, hosting events and meetings, and generously connecting the Convening with their constituencies and networks. 

We welcomed collaborators of many types—independent organizers, collectives, project spaces, formal organizations—and at various levels of commitment, including full organizing partners and those presenting sessions for the Convening through the open call. 


Art League Houston
Aurora Picture Show
Emilý Æyer
Emily Sloan (Curation MythMystic Lyon)
Galveston Arts Center
Henry G. Sanchez (Law Office Center for Citizenship and Art + The BioArt Bayou-torium)
Jessi Bowman (FLATS)
Lawndale Art Center
Matt Manalo (Filipinx Artists of Houston)
Megan Sparks (The Resistance Healing Clinic)
Moe Penders
Project Row Houses
Reyes Ramirez
Rothko Chapel




Houston Advisors

Thanks to the following Houston arts leaders who offered their time, ideas and support to Common Field in realizing the 2020 Convening. (List in formation) 

Karen Farber, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, University of Houston
Joe Havel, Glassell School of Art
Sixto Wagan, Center for Art and Social Engagement (CASE), University of Houston
Christine West, Cultural Programs Manager, Houston First

Houston Network

Houston and its surrounding area boasts a robust artist-centered organizing field, including many Organizations and Organizers within Common Field's Network. We're pleased to acknowledge this critical mass of arts organizers who undertake the daily work of making visible and accessible the vibrant local arts landscape, and whose creative labors inform and guide the 2020 Online Convening.

We're also happy to acknowledge ALL of our Texas Members. 

HOUSTON + GALVESTON Organization Network Members:

Abedin Fine Art
Alabama Song
Antena Houston
Art League Houston
Aurora Picture Show
Center for Art & Social Engagement
Center for the Healing of Racism
Civic TV
Community Artists' Collective
Engage Houston | Mid- American Arts Alliance
Filipinx Artists of Houston
Fresh Arts
Galveston Artist Residency
Galveston Arts Center
Houston Center for Photography
Klein Arts & Culture
Lawndale Art Center
Mystic Lyon
Nameless Sound
Project Row Houses
Rothko Chapel
Studio Enertia
The Devon Center for the Visual and Expressive Arts
Zine Fest Houston

HOUSTON + GALVESTON Organizer Network Members:

Ashley Dehoyos
Caroline Docwra
Carrie Schneider
Cecilia Norman
Christine West
Dianne K. Webb
Donna E. Perkins
Eepi Chaad
Emilý Æyer
Erin Carty
Eureka Gilkey
Hank Hancock
Henry G. Sanchez
J. Bilhan
Jeanette Joy Harris
Julia Wallace
Kaitlyn Ellison
Kelly Johnson
Dennis Nance
Laura Napier
Laura Spector
Leticia Contreras
Liyen Chong
Mary Magsamen
Megan Sparks
Michael Stevenson
Moe Penders
Peter Lucas
Reyes Ramirez
Sarah Stauder
Sidney Garrett
Sol Diaz
Suzy Villarruel
Priscilla Ybarra

AUSTIN Network Members:

Paul Bonin-Rodriguez
MASS Gallery
Christine Garvey
Unlisted Projects
Women & Their Work    

BAYVIEW Network Members:

Neta RGV

CONROE Network Members:

Donald Shorter

DALLAS Network Members:

Ash Studios
William Sarradet
Creating Our Future
Sunset Art Studios
Trans.lation Vickery Meadow

FORTH WORTH Network Members:

Artscream Truck    
Creating our future Dallas and Fort Worth

MARFA Network Members:

Ballroom Marfa
Marfa Open Art Festival

GUATEMALA CITY Network Members:

Laura August

MCKINNEY Network Members:

Sammetria Goodson    

MEXICO CITY Network Members:

Leslie Moody Castro    

MISSOURI CITY Network Members:

Maya White    

SAN ANTONIO Network Members:

Penelope Boyer        
Land Art Generator Initiative    
Jacqueline McGilvray

SHENANDOAH Network Members:

Society of Layerists in Multi-Media (SLMM)    

Common Field Events in Houston

Common Field is dedicated to building knowledge about the field from within it, joining practitioners and leaders who define best practices while developing new approaches to artist-centered organizing. To that end, we've engaged with local arts organizers in Houston at several points throughout the organizing process.


January 22, 2019
Common Field Houston Meet-Up at Aurora Picture Show

Organized by Art League Houston, Aurora Picture Show, DiverseWorks, Galveston Arts Center and Project Row Houses with Common Field.

This event was a conversation, gathering and program for artist-centered spaces, projects and organizers. The Common Field Houston Meet-Up brought together 100+ arts organizers to discuss challenges, opportunities, and ideas relevant to their local context. Attendees also learned more about how Common Field serves as a national resource to connect a broader field of artist-centric spaces and projects across the country. Download and read notes from the meet-up here.