Houston-based artist Chasity Porter activates hope in communities through art. Founder of the Dormalou Project, her humanitarian spirit continues to advance. Created in 2014, the Dormalou experience serves as a curated mobile art gallery. Providing youth the gift of making blossomed into a series of blessings. Once an idea, modern blueprints of exhibited spaces grew. Reconstructing elements of joy, transported visuals now become the canvas. Family structure is the basis of Chasity Porter’s life. As a mother and wife, her journey has a purpose.
“Everything I do is inspired by my family.”
On the inspiration behind the Dormalou Project
I have a BFA in Art. I’ve always wanted to create. The mission is not only for my kids, but involving kids as a whole in the arts. Initially, I wanted to own a gallery and have a space where I didn’t get bored. When I decided to do everything mobile, I took art to the people. That changed the scenery completely.
With a background in graphic design, custom framing, photography, and floral design, Chasity’s work is limitless.
On her arts background and style
“I would say it’s a little quirky, surreal, and weird. I’ve always been the weird kid growing up feeling like the black sheep. But, it comes out through surrealism and thinking outside the box. It’s an extension of myself. Every piece I create has a story behind it.”
I never had to fight who I am as an artist.
Her environment and creativity had a huge influence growing up. Battling depression as a child wasn’t easy, but it led to finding an outlet in art. Crediting her husband for accepting flaws and all, show a great amount of love. “I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for him.”
Like many cities, Houston has its own personal touch. There’s great benefits to city life if time is invested.
When I was younger, places like the museums and the zoo meant a lot. These places exist everywhere. But, I feel they are not being utilized enough to similar experiences when we were kids.
Producing a mobile service to local citizens, generated respect from the communities all around. Constantly moving around, Chasity became exposed to diversity. This made communicating and socialization easier. Now, her business is flourishing. Understanding the psychology of people became a priority. Curating specific shows, traveling to certain locations, and collaboration became a success.
Her Texas roots helped her see another side to reality.
You know it’s a weird thing. I try to stay away from making art that’s anything political. Sometimes it comes out because you can’t get away from it. Especially, when I feel certain things growing up in the south. My maternal family is from a small segregated country town. My mom is biracial and grew up there as well. She had a different experience than most. Therefore, her views are different from many people of her time.
In tune with the question of why art is her weapon of choice and process, did her perception of the south change?
This question made me thing about the black experience. Whatever I made, it came out of me. I never grew up creating in a household that was black. I try my best not to see color. Sometimes, I feel people see me differently. I’m not involved in political stuff. Most of the time, I don’t know what to say because I don’t want to offend anyone. Houston is a big city with a small-town feel. Especially, in the arts community. We are all family.
Her creative process might seem all over the place, but it’s 100% her. There is a method to her madness.
It’s a little crazy, maybe scattered-brained. I get bored easily. I might skip around ideas. The same goes with Dormalou. First comes my inspiration. Then sketching. Next is brainstorming and writing. I might even contact an artist.
“I also spend too much time on the computer. There’s so much to see. From the research, going out, networking it can seem like a lot. I’m always inspired by other artists. When I see something I love from an artist, I want to find out who they are and what they did.”
Future collaborations with artists
“There’s so many! Wow! I would love to collaborate with Patrick Renner, Robert Hodge, and Wylie Garcia. I know them personally. I would also love to work with Trenton-Doyle Hancock. He’s really good at what he does.”
Outside of art, other disciplines like patience and motherhood helped develop Chasity’s entrepreneurial soul. Learning the business end of art, shaped the Dormalou Project. When developing installations, she also looks at music and film for inspiration. Anything visually stunning and eccentric, she accepts.
The accessible experience is an important factor when serving communities.
Chasity details the importance of her arts upbringing in the community
One of the things I feel impacted me as a kid is having the opportunity to meet other artists. At a young age, they volunteered their time. They came to us in these underserved neighborhoods. I feel it’s my duty to do the same. You don’t have to have money to create. My goal is to let kids know you can take anything at home and make something. lf there’s cardboard laying around, you can make a stereo with it. Use recycled materials. Or when someone takes the time to create with kids, they appreciate that. I hope I’m inspiring and teaching them to be better as a person. It’s not just about the art. But from my experience, it’s important to give back in that same form.
Chasity has a great amount of respect for contemporary art. It allows the bus to exhibit modern variety. Selected works for Dormalou installations are pretty open. As far as curating a group, a number of ideas come about. If Collaborating with artists, the concept is up to them.
I like art that’s outside the box. I also appreciate traditional art. But, if I’m not going to hang it in my home I won’t show it on my bus. It’s my taste. And not to say it’s bad, but it’s me. I love Surrealism too because it speaks to me. Oh, and a collage, of course! But, no overall theme. It varies.
Dormalou is also a space that defies artist myths and introduce youth to other mediums.
A lot of people who aren’t exposed to art might think artists only paint. But, I like to show art that’s not the norm. I want them to be exposed to different forms of art. Most kids only identify with painting. I try to get stuff that tries to educate them on different art forms.
Outside of the Houston area, Chasity Porter has goals of traveling more. Travel will help her conceptualized transformations and environments in a new light. Starting in places like Dallas and San Antonio will help the local movement spread. Even collaborating with other businesses peak interest. The mobile gallery is just one element. Events outside of the bus have been very successful.
Next chapter for the Dormalou Project
I want to do more with the street art scene. The Dormalou Project can be considered a form of street art. When I mention street art, I don’t just mean graffiti art. I’m talking performance, underground art, etc. Anything that is beyond the boundaries of a traditional gallery. I spend a lot of time working on Dormalou. But revamping will come soon. I’m not changing how I’m running it, though. I want to focus more on the bus experience and these upcoming shows. They are huge. One is in the fall and the other in spring. In January, Dormalou will be in storage to gain new inspiration.
“I actually just applied to the Fiscal Scholarship and sponsor through Fractured Atlas. The goal is to donate to a school. I want to make it easier to take kids to these events for free. And, it would be a huge bonus for the growth of the school.”
Forthcoming projects and events supporters should be on the lookout for
This year, I worked with Texas Art Supply to collaborate with Dormalou. And, I did an art expo with kids discussing art. The next big deal is hopefully next years Make and Take. I want to get more artists and people to come out.
Make and take is one notch up from that idea. I asked a couple of artists to contribute. I’ll ask them to volunteer a Sunday out of their time. Maybe set up a table and booth and have a project that kids, parents, and community can interact with. Artist participating in Make and Take also have an exhibition. A lot of kids get involved. Activities like, getting into printmaking to produce a t-shirt design was fun. And, it was free. I want to make it better next year.”
Next chapter for growth of self
Traveling! But, it can be a hassle when you’re a mom. My husband also has full-time jobs. I need to find time to focus on me. I thought at this point, working on Dormalou would give me time. Running a small business and getting out there to talk about your project can be overwhelming. But, I want to spend more time focusing on my experiences this year. I want more time in my studio space.
Appreciated by her community, interactive projects also helped dialogue between households. Dormalou is a no judgment zone. This is an atmosphere for children to express themselves in a positive way.
Opportunity is celebrated. Dormalou is a small reminder of never closing the uninvited door. Dormalou also includes; education-based events, contemporary art music and literary sites, art markets, exhibitions, education-based activities, fund-raisers etc. Be ready to take risks and make a difference. Conscious uses of the imagination only support the future.
Chasity feel in love with GrungeCake when she met our editor Richardine Bartee.
I met Richardine in Houston through her teacher Thedra. After I found out about her teacher’s experience, I feel in love with the site. Anything with grunge, I love. Even in music, and fashion. I love what y’all are doing. With the site being more national, it’s amazing. Just seeing what GrungeCake is doing in other parts of the country is big. It’s amazing to see a platform branch out not just in New York City, but everywhere.
The future of creativity is a path to endless moments. An angel in disguise, Chasity Porter’s work touches generations to come. Motivating people with different aspects in art is truly phenomenal.