Houston Row Houses

This project started when I moved back down South after having lived away from “home” for 7 years or so. I found my home city so beautiful–the no-zoning, the repurposed commercial neighborhoods and residential wards. The historic row houses were a hot-mess counterpoint to the surrounding suburbs to which I was accustomed, and yet their diversity coexisted economically and ethnically.



I wanted to make a series of works that helped reacquaint me with the city where I grew up. I chose india ink as a medium for it’s immediacy and the fluid quality. I love how instantly ink can create a mood or atmosphere with unplanned pools of pigment.


I used a quill–that old fashioned dip style pen–and a large wash brush with water. I don’t typically sketch beforehand because I prefer a more spontaneous, even awkward or off-kilter perspective that happens as a result of working directly without measuring. It’s like working off of instinct and paying attention to balance as you go along.






The project began as way to explore, rather than to celebrate or critique my city. My audience responded for the most part with excitement to see their favorite spots reimagined through ink–some folks had stories about what those buildings were years ago and how those spaces changed purpose and meaning to them over time. For me it unearthed a powerful dichotomy that runs throughout much of my work. I find that there are thin walls between reality and the absurd, the sacred and the mundane, promotion and exploitation, ritual and routine. Through a process of discovery I hope my work is allowed to drift, making way for these multiple or conflicting readings.

kim russell