There’s something brewing in Houston, TX, something good for the community. In the summer of 2018 an organization was founded that pledged itself to a cause that is much needed, and often overlooked. Artists for Artists is a non-profit organization founded by husband and wife, Tra’ and Amber Slaughter. Built on the belief that artists are of value to the business world, and deserve the same healthcare security as any other career path, Artists for Artists is finding new ways to grow their outreach and support the creative community here in Houston, Texas.
When a close friend had a tumultuous bout in the hospital during 2018, Amber and Tra’ saw a need that had to be met. Their friend, who had built a career as an artist, did not have the financial resources he needed for the unexpected medical emergency. They quickly utilized their artistic network and created an art group online. Seventy-five artists around Houston donated over 200 pieces of work to a fundraiser on their friend’s behalf easing the mounting medical costs.
“From that event we saw a need in the artist community–and as an artist myself [I] can speak to this need– [that] as a full time artist it’s difficult to maintain a steady income, and regulate whether you can spend that money on insurance coverage”. – Tra’ Slaughter
Life throws us curve balls without discretion or consideration for one’s circumstance. Artists for Artists aims to, “create an umbrella that artists can source different doctors [for] physical and mental health that work with us on a sliding scale”, and to provide an encompassing directory for self-sustaining artists to utilize. Other states, like Los Angeles and New York, have similar programs to support working artists in accessing affordable healthcare. Artists for Artists is leading the way for the Houston creative economy to follow suit with similar programming, while also providing opportunity for artists to “expand their work capacity” without being hindered by personal emergencies. In a city surrounded by oil and gas, organizations like Artists for Artists keep the flame of Houston creativity and culture burning bright.
Artists for Artists is one hundred percent volunteer based. The organization gains funding through private donations, fundraising, art auctions and pop ups. This September, Artists for Artists will be hosting a special event guaranteed to provide you with an experience unlike any other. Their upcoming interactive experience, titled Cirque du Freak, taps into the idea that artists, like circus performers, “live on the fringe, with no umbrella to catch them” (Amber Slaughter). The event is well on it’s way to reaching it’s fiscal goal, and one hundred percent of the proceeds go to funding the emergency recovery grants that the Artists for Artists umbrella provides to the Houston community.
Cirque du Freak will be a unique interactive art auction. While most art auctions are silent and far too bourgeois, Cirque du Freak will have multiple ways for its patrons to enjoy themselves, including a burlesque show, champagne fountain, roaming sideshow acts, and a fire breather for the first forty-five minutes of the event. Attendees can take traditional plate printed photos, and bid on pieces like the one pictured below, “Taunting the Tooth Fairy”, which was actually painted by founder Tra’ and his friend who inspired the organization! Talk about full circle. Plus, there will be a tattoo artist on site for those feeling inspired, and a circus tent hanging above the exquisite affair to tie it all together. It’s truly a party you don’t want to miss, and its proceeds benefit the artist community wholeheartedly.
Art has a place in all of our lives, and a significant place in the history of humankind. It is unique to our species, visceral and necessary. Artistic representation of the world around us appears as early as the Paleolithic era, found on the Chauvet cave walls in France in 30,000 B.C.E. Art is integral in our processes of communication and understanding, of expression and connection. Founder and multi-media artist Tra’ Slaughter remembers the words of his mentor Dan McFarland, “art marks time”. Tra’ furthers his mentor’s axiom, stating that, “not putting value on artists is like not putting value on history”. Supporting organizations like Artists for Artists, and events such as Cirque du Freak, is an investment in human kind, its culture, its history and its growth. Thank you to all of the artists who continue to create, and please visit artists4artists.org to learn more about the aid they provide.