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M.F.A. Student Wins Spot on City Council with ‘Vote Art’ Campaign

Alton DuLaney (M.F.A. ’18) has big plans for the tiny town of Splendora, Texas.

Conceptual artist, curator, art director, teaching fellow, talk show guest and in-demand gift wrap artist Alton DuLaney (M.F.A. ’18) just added yet another accolade to his resume: city council member.

DuLaney, a graduate student in the University of Houston’s Interdisciplinary Practice and Emerging Forms (IPEF) program, was elected to the position in his hometown of Splendora, Texas after running on “vote art” platform. His goal is to put the tiny town of about 1,600 people — located just north of Houston — on the map in a big way, highlighting its small town charm and burgeoning art scene. 

“My campaign was really about focusing on the beauty, culture and art community in Splendora,” he says.

Over the past 20 years, DuLaney has worked as a professional artist and designer in major cities throughout the U.S., including New York City and Los Angeles, and only recently returned to Texas for grad school. Excited to reconnect with his hometown, DuLaney jumped into a handful of community engagement activities. He began attending city council meetings and working with local artists James Surls and Charmaine Locke. Surls and his daughter Ruby also founded the Splendora Gardens art space, where DuLaney now serves as the art director.

“It’s really great to be able to be a part of the town now and see all the potential it has,” he says, adding that he hopes his efforts over the next two years will not only draw attention to the town’s quaint charms, but will instill a sense of pride in his fellow Splendora residents.

“I want to help make Splendora a place everyone’s proud to call home.”