Moody Project Wall: Bennie Flores Ansell, Swarm Migration
Launched in 2021, the Moody Project Wall fosters community and cross-campus student engagement with Houston-based artists through the creation of an original work of art installed inside the Moody’s award-winning building.
For the spring of 2023, local artist Bennie Flores Ansell created a site-specific multi-media installation centered on the experience of human migration. Incorporating hundreds of 3D-printed and ceramic wishbones, Swarm Migration takes the shape of a flock of birds. The intersection of avian flight and human migration, evoked by the installation, at once abstracts and personalizes the immigration experience. The artwork's thematic focus will be underscored by artist-led writing and drawing workshops for Rice students and a public call for migration stories. The documents created by these initiatives will be integrated into subsequent community programming.
The Moody Project Wall series is made possible by the Moody Center for the Arts Founders Circle. Swarm Mighration is organized by Molly Everett, Assistant Curator for the Moody Center for the Arts.
Read on to learn more about Swarm Migration and Flores Ansell’s practice.
Comprised of hundreds of small resin and ceramic wishbones arranged in a pattern evocative of birds in flight, the installation showcases Flores Ansell practice of implementing technology, light, and unique materials to explore migration and cultural identity. For the Moody Project Wall, the artist used computerized tomography (CT) scans of her own collarbones—comparable to a bird’s furcula, commonly called a wishbone, which is essential to avian flight mechanics—to create her own unique wishbone prototype. Flores Ansell collaborated with Billy Baccam and Alex Ramos of Input / Output to create AI-generated renderings of the wishbones flying, modeled off of flocks of birds in flight. With the help of Rice University students through workshops and installation, Flores Ansell's Swarm Migration serves as means to express and gather stories of migration.
Bennie Flores Ansell was born in Manila, Philippines, in 1967, and spent her formative years in the United States. Since 2008, she has served as Professor in the Art Department at Houston Community College. She earned her MFA in Photography from the University of Houston (1999) and a BA in Photography from the University of South Florida (1998). In 1999, she was awarded an American Photography Institute Fellowship at New York University and has held several residencies, including at Asia Society Texas, the Houston Center for Photography, and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.
Flores Ansell’s work has been exhibited internationally, including at the International Center of Photography, New York; Festival De La Luz, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Daegu Photography Biennale, Daegu, South Korea; Uno Art Space, Stuttgart, Germany; and Patricia Conde Galería, Mexico City. Her work is represented in various public and private collections, including the Southeast Museum of Photography.