Core Artists & Critics
2022–2023 Core Residents
Bryan Castro, Saúl Hernández-Vargas, Erin Holland, Yifan Jiang, Jagdeep Raina, Fred Schmidt-Arenales
Valentin Diaconov, Karen Schiff
Bryan Castro, a conceptual artist creating text-based works, was born in New Jersey. In 2017, Castro received his BFA in visual arts with a concentration in media from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University–New Brunswick in New Jersey. He earned his MFA in fine arts in 2020 from the painting and printmaking department at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. His work has been included in shows at the Institute of Contemporary Art at VCU; / (Slash Art) in San Francisco; and the Black Ground Laboratorio Cultural in Cali, Colombia.
Valentin Diaconov, born in Moscow, Russia, received a PhD in culture studies from Russian State University for Humanities in 2009. He has written for a variety of Russian- and English-language publications. Diaconov curated Philosophy of Common Deed, a survey of Soviet art at the Perm State Art Gallery, in 2012; and Detective, a selection of work by young Russian artists at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, in 2014. While serving as curator at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, he co-curated The Fabric of Felicity in 2018 and A Beautiful Night of All the People in 2020. Diaconov is interested in necropolitics; cultural history and geography; and art that opposes or works around the necromantic tendencies of today’s conservative movements worldwide.
Saúl Hernández-Vargas is an interdisciplinary artist. He holds an MFA in visual arts from the University of California, San Diego; and a PhD in studio art and Hispanic studies from the University of Houston. He has exhibited in spaces such as the Blaffer Art Museum and Lawndale Art Center in Houston; Casa Amano in Guatemala City, Guatemala; and Ediciones Plan B in Oaxaca, Mexico. Hernández-Vargas has been an artist-in-residence at the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands at Arizona State University; the Dust Program in Marfa, Texas; Nagoya University of Arts in Japan; and Universidad Politécnica de Valencia in Spain. In 2020, he developed Afilada Radio, a series of radio essays for RadioEnsayo.com and co-curated No hay lengua humana que, a series of radio interventions by artists from the Americas.
Erin Holland is a filmmaker, artist, and writer based in New York. She received her MFA in visual art from Columbia University in 2022. Holland creates relational offerings through photography, video, performance, and installation. Her practice weaves silence, touch, absence, and presence into deeply personal works, as seen in the short-film series Mother Mother, about the hardship and richness of long-term caregiving. Holland worked as an art director and producer for the Museum of Modern Art in New York while engaging in community projects led by MoMA Pop Rally, Creative Time, and Public Art Fund. Her work was been featured in New York at Lenfest Center for the Arts and the Jewish Museum.
Yifan Jiang is a project-based artist working in painting, animation, sculpture, and performance. Taking an irreverent approach to epistemology, she explores the grey intersection between the scientific, the psychological, and the magical. Jiang received her MFA from Columbia University in New York, and her BFA from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, Canada. Solo exhibitions include Zero-sum game at Christian Andersen in Copenhagen and the two-part exhibition Medium-sized dry goods/Names for airy nothings at Meliksetian | Briggs in Los Angeles. Her work has also been featured at venues such as Today Art Museum in Beijing, China; the Roswell Museum in New Mexico; the Jewish Museum in New York; London International Animation Festival; and the New York Public Art Fund.
Jagdeep Raina is an interdisciplinary artist and writer from Guelph, Ontario. He holds an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and was a 2021 Paul Mellon Fellow at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Raina currently lives and works in Houston.
Karen Schiff is an artist, writer, editor, and educator who has also worked as a professor and curator. She has an MFA, with honors in drawing, from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University in Boston; and a PhD in comparative literature and literary theory, with a graduate certificate in women’s studies, from the University of Pennsylvania. She was admitted to the International Association of Art Critics in 2013. Schiff’s artist residencies include Yaddo, Anderson Ranch, and the Edward F. Albee Foundation, and her drawings are held in the collections of institutions such as the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Brooklyn Museum; Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut; and the MCS Collection of Contemporary Drawing in Funchal, Portugal.
Fred Schmidt-Arenales is an interdisciplinary artist, filmmaker, and organizer. His works attempt to bring awareness to unconscious processes on the individual and group level. He has presented performances and experimental video and audio works at venues including FotoFest and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Links Hall and Ballroom Projects in Chicago; Pieter Performance Space and NAVEL in Los Angeles; the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia; SculptureCenter in New York; and Kunsthalle in Vienna. His films have screened at festivals and theaters including the Architecture and Design Film Festival in New York; Aurora Picture Show in Houston; and Lightbox Film Center in Philadelphia. His most recent film, Committee of Six, explores the history of urban renewal in Chicago through participatory group process.