State Artists for 2017 & 2018

The Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) is pleased to announce the Texas State Legislature’s 2017 and 2018 appointments to the positions of state poet laureate, state musician, state two-dimensional artist and state three-dimensional artist.


photo: Terry Calogne

George Strait is the undeniable “King of Country Music.” His music career spans more than 30 years; includes 60 No. 1 singles—more than any other artist in any genre—and boasts 33 platinum or multi-platinum-selling albums—more than any country artist and third across all genres behind only The Beatles and Elvis Presley. Strait is the only act in history to have a Top 10 hit every year for over three decades and has sold more than 70 million albums and earned more than 60 major entertainment industry awards. Strait, whose name has become synonymous with “real country” since his 1981 debut, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006. He has since released five more albums, including the GRAMMY Award-winning Troubadour and his latest chart-topping release, Cold Beer Conversation. In 2014, he shattered the North American indoor concert attendance record by drawing 104,793 concert-goers to his The Cowboy Rides Away Tour finale at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. Strait performed six sold-out shows at the T-Mobile Arena in 2016 as part of his “Strait to Vegas” exclusive concert series, extending his limited engagement into 2017 to 10 shows with two weekends of 2 Nights of Number 1’s.


photo: Lane Pittard

Jenny Browne’s acclaimed poetry explores language, landscape and the strange complexity of being human with both intimacy and wonder. The author of three collections: At Once, The Second Reason, and Dear Stranger, she has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the San Antonio Artist Foundation and the Writers’ League of Texas, as well as the Cecil Hemley Award from the Poetry Society of America. A dedicated educator, Browne worked for many years as a poet-in-residence in schools, community centers and libraries across the state. After receiving her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas, she joined the English Department at Trinity University where she teaches courses in creative writing, environmental literature and women and gender studies. Her most recent manuscript Freetown, considers questions of mobility, race and climate change. During the summer of 2017, she will be the National Park Service Artist-in-Residence at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.


Kermit Oliver’s masterfully executed paintings and drawings have earned him worldwide recognition as one of the finest contemporary American artists of our time. A student of Greek and Roman mythology and of the Old and New Testaments, Oliver derives extensive symbolism from these texts, which he presents in his work in a contemporary and highly personal way. Oliver’s work is included in the inaugural exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (Washington, DC), which opened to the public this past September. Last spring, The Nave Museum (Victoria) held a solo exhibition of selected works by Oliver. The Martin Museum of Art at Baylor University (Waco) held an exhibition of his paintings and Hermès scarves in 2014. In 2013, Oliver received the first Lifetime Achievement Award from Art League Houston. Oliver’s work was the subject of a lifetime retrospective at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston in 2005. His work was included in the 2001 international SITE SANTA FE biennial, curated by art historian/critic Dave Hickey. An alumnus of Texas Southern University, Oliver holds the distinction of being the only American artist to create scarf designs for the French fashion house of Hermès.


Beverly Penn’s sculpture explores the contradicting need to both idealize and modify the natural environment. Ms. Penn’s sculptures are included in the collections of the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., the Contemporary Austin; the Racine Art Museum; the El Paso Museum of Art; and the Monarch Center for Contemporary Art in Washington. She has been commissioned for several public art projects, including Unity in Diversity in Las Cruces, NM; the Community Core Sample Project and the Threshold Project with Steve Wiman in Austin; the Natives Project at Whole Foods in Austin; and the 719 Ash Hilton Hotel in San Diego. She is the recipient of numerous fellowships including a Rockefeller Foundation residency in Bellagio, Italy; a Connemara Conservancy Artist Grant; and a Fulbright Fellowship in Barcelona, Spain. She has also received nine Texas State University Faculty Research Grants involving research in Mexico, Italy, Spain, and New York. She is a tenured professor in the School of Art & Design at Texas State University. Lisa Sette Gallery in Phoenix, William Campbell Contemporary Art in Fort Worth, and Flatbed Press in Austin represent her work.


Legendary Texas-born, Louisiana-raised pianist, songwriter and vocalist Marcia Ball has earned worldwide fame for her ability to ignite a full-scale roadhouse rhythm and blues party every time she strolls onto a stage. The musical storyteller’s groove-laden New Orleans boogie, deeply soulful ballads and rollicking Gulf Coast blues have made her a one-of-a-kind favorite with music fans all over the world. Her songs paint vibrant pictures with richly detailed characters, flavors and scenes straight out of Louisiana and Texas. She holds ten Blues Music Awards, eight Living Blues Awards, and five GRAMMY Award nominations. She has been inducted into both the Gulf Coast Music Hall Of Fame and the Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame. Her love of the road has led to years of countless performances at festivals, concert halls and clubs all over the world. The New York Times says, “Marcia Ball plays two-fisted New Orleans barrelhouse piano and sings in a husky, knowing voice about all the trouble men and women can get into on the way to a good time.” Living Blues declares, “Her originals sound like timeless classics and southern soul masterpieces that no one else can imitate.”


photo: Jasmina Wellinghoff

The poems, reviews, and essays of Carol Coffee Reposa have appeared or are forthcoming in The Atlanta Review, The Evansville Review, The Texas Observer, Southwestern American Literature, The Valparaiso Review, and other journals and anthologies. Author of four books of poetry—At the Border: Winter Lights, The Green Room, Facts of Life, and Underground Musicians—Reposa was a finalist in The Malahat Review Long Poem Contest (1988), winner of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center Poetry Contest (1992), and a winner of the San Antonio Public Library Arts & Letters Award (2015). She has received three Pushcart Prize nominations, along with three Fulbright-Hays Fellowships for study in Russia, Peru, Ecuador, and Mexico and twice has made the short list for Texas Poet Laureate. Named professor emerita of English at San Antonio College in 2010, she now serves as poetry editor of Voices de la Luna and this year was elected to the Texas Institute of Letters.


Sedrick Huckaby was born in Fort Worth in 1975. After completing O.D. Wyatt High School, he obtained his BFA from Boston University and his MFA from Yale University. With funds from the Alice Kimble English Traveling Fellowship, Huckaby was able to travel the U.S. and abroad studying the works of Henry Tanner. He was also a Provincetown Fellow, which allowed him to spend six months making work at the Fine Arts Work Center. Huckaby returned from European travels in 2001, and after settling back into his hometown of Fort Worth, he began to work and teach there. A Guggenheim Fellowship and a Joan Mitchell Foundation grant are among the awards he has won since returning. His work is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others. Huckaby is married to artist Letitia Huckaby and is the father of three children. He holds the position of Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Arlington.


Beili Liu is a visual artist who creates material-and-process-driven, site-responsive installations. Working with commonplace materials and elements, Liu manipulates their intrinsic qualities to extrapolate complex cultural narratives. Her work has been exhibited extensively in solo and group exhibitions in Asia, Europe and across the United States, at venues including the National Museum for Women in the Arts (Washington, D.C.), the Chinese Culture Foundation (San Francisco), Zhejing Museum of Art (Hangzhou, China), Hå Gamle Prestegard, Norwegian National Art and Culture Center, and Galerie An Der Pinakothek Der Moderne (Munich, Germany). Beili Liu is a 2016 Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant Award recipient. Beili Liu’s work has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts (Museum of Southeast Texas, 2014) and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Artistic Innovation and Collaboration Grant (Women and Their Work Gallery, 2013). Liu received a Distinction award at the Kaunas Biennial, Lithuania (2011), and was honored by a San Francisco Major’s Award (2008) for her contribution to cultural exchange. Born in Jilin, China, Beili Liu now lives and works in Austin. Liu received her MFA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is a Professor of Art at the University of Texas at Austin.