2023 Martel Award | Soup Russell
Soup Russell has been selected as the recipient of the 23rd Annual Marian and Speros Martel Award of Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH). The Martel Award is given annually to a graduating senior chosen by CAMH in consultation with the visual arts faculty at the senior’s high school. The selection criteria include: production of a significant and meritorious body of work during the senior year, plans to attend an accredited college, university, or art school, and exceptional promise in the visual arts and attendant professions.
Every day I find myself maturing in ways I didn’t know possible. It’s frightening and rewarding to grow up, but what am I leaving behind? In response my work encapsulates all of childhood as bittersweet memorial for what it once was and what I want to remember it as.
It’s incredible how despite the vast ways, we all have traversed life we can create community in a collective childhood experience through food, objects, and media. At the same time, however, we have agreed upon what is deemed acceptable for certain ages. What would it be like to cling onto that fleeting childhood? How toxic and beautiful is it to not want to let go? In response, my work immortalizes the breakdown process of childhood, its grotesque cling on our lives, the way it withers as we grow, and how disturbing it really [is]. Creating these works allows me to relive my youth and enjoy being carefree, but also helps me acknowledge how I may never be able to go back to those sweet moments I took for granted.
Bugs like roaches, flies, and maggots entice me because they embody decay. There is always an internal and more personal factor that makes our beloved memories sour, paired alongside the external factors of bugs physically breaking down memories creates a conversation that I aim to interpret. I make art for the pleasure of evoking something visceral and uncovering a lost or indescribable feeling. At the same time, I encourage my audience to play and let go of responsibility like they once did as kids. My art is a pathway for all kinds of people to grasp its contents and feel a part of the work. Through my creations I continue to capture childhood as a thousand of little tastes, feelings, and sights to behold.
— Soup Russell, 2023 Martel Award Recipient
About Soup Russell
Soup Russell is an artist, art ambassador, art aid, and volunteer at the Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA) in Houston. Russell creates immersive community experiences by creating works that require people to activate and play with. Russell will attend Syracuse University to fulfill their dreams and show their two younger sisters they can achieve anything they want. In their free time, Russell enjoys upcylcling old clothes and baking treats for their family and friends.
Image caption: Soup Russell, Schmoodle, 2023. Ceramic, fabric, fiber, thread, lamp hardware, and acrylic paint, 14 x 10.5 x 12 inches. Image and work courtesy the artist.