Open MFA is an artist collective that provides community, dialogue, and cross-disciplinary collaboration for artists based in the Houston area. The artist-run organization is shaped by everyone who takes part—participation is free and open to artists of any discipline. 

Open MFA provides accessibility to arts education by creating space for community and collaboration amongst artists on the periphery of Houston’s art scene. Inspired by desirable elements of a traditional MFA program, we create opportunities for artists to share knowledge and skills, explore new ideas within their individual practice, and gain intellectual and social exchanges between each other and the broader public. We invite artists, who may otherwise take on student debt to pursue an MFA program, to challenge their work and have meaningful conversations with a community of artists. We are a resource for artists to continue their education—whether they already have a University degree, intend to pursue one in the future, or want to pursue an alternative route.

We are a fiscally sponsored project of Fresh Arts, a non-profit arts service organization. The Fresh Arts fiscal sponsorship program unlocks support for individual artists and collectives existing outside of traditional nonprofit models. Through the program, Fresh Arts can open the door to new streams of support for our city’s independent artists, while providing fiscal oversight for utilizing charitable funds.

Contributions for the purpose of Open MFA must be made payable to Fresh Arts and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. Visit to donate.

Group Exhibitions & Projects

2023, Supported/Suspended, Box13 Artspace, Houston, TX
2022, Open MFA Art Sale, Raven Tower, Houston, TX
Gathering What’s Tangible, curated by Erica Reed Lee, Flatland Gallery, Houston, TX
2022, Open MFA Pop-Up Exhibition, curated by Megan Olivia Ebel, Raventower, Houston, TX
2020, Gratitude Circle Mail Project, organized by Erica Reed Lee, Houston, TX
2019, Zine Fest Houston, Lawndale Art Center, Houston, TX
2018, Zine Fest Houston, Lawndale Art Center, Houston, TX

Presentations & Awards

2022, Panelist, Fresh Arts Summit: Building Community & Self Organizing
2022, Fresh Arts Fiscal Sponsorship

Programs & Events

2016–present, Monthly Meet-Ups, various locations
2023, Workshop, Alternative Crochet, presented by The Orange Show
2022, Workshop & Event, Open MFA x HOKA, Photo Walk & Workshop, Glassell School of Art
2022, Workshop, Plarn + Sustainable Fiber Arts, Lawndale Art Center
2022, Artist Talks, Gathering What's Tangible, Flatland Gallery
2022, Workshop Series, Open Library: Artists's Books, Lawndale Art Center
2022, Workshop Series, Open Library: Artists's Books, Menil Park
2020, Artist Talk, Michael Menchaca 
2020, Digital Residency, Candice D'Meza
2020, Digital Residency, Outspoken Bean 
2020, Digital Residency, Sebastien Boncy
2020, Digital Residency, Ryan Hollaway
2020, Artist Talk, J. Billhan
2020, Artist Talk, Latifa AlBokhari
2020, Digital Residency, Hugo Santana
2020, Digital Residency, Frank Dilan
2019, Artist Talk, Havel Ruck Projects
2019, Artist Talk, Mich Stevenson
2019, Digital Residency, Amber Gomez
2019, Digital Residency, Lorena Mitchell
2019, Digital Residency, Linda Mota
2019, Digital Residency, Erica Reed Lee
2019, Digital Residency, Dana Caldera
2019, Digital Residency, Carly Garzon Vargas
2018, Digital Residency, Mayra Huerta
2018, Digital Residency, José Cano
2017, Digital Residency, Matt Manalo
2017, Digital Residency, Ryan Hollaway
2017, Digital Residency, Amanda Powers
2017, Tapping Through The City, Group Performance, Montrose Houston


Open MFA was founded in 2016 by artists Marion Tu and Amanda Powers. Hillaree Hamblin, Ryan Hollaway, and John Galindo became integral parts of developing the community-led group which hosted group critiques, conversations about Houston art, museum and exhibition meet-ups, and collaborative projects; including the Open MFA Digital Residency. In 2019, Erica Reed Lee joined the organizational team, contributing to programming and communication for the community. Erica Reed Lee established Open MFA’s email newsletter, which compiles resources and news about Houston art. Between 2016 and 2020, Open MFA hosted 10 digital art residencies with artists such as Mayra Huerta and Matt Manalo. Since 2019, Open MFA has expanded its scope of community outreach to include artist talks with artists such as j.bilhan, Mich Stevenson, Havel Ruck Projects, and Michael Menchaca. In 2022, Open MFA organized its first group show. The pop-up exhibition at Raven Tower was curated by Megan Olivia Ebel and featured 14 artists. In May 2022, Open MFA will host a two-week group exhibition at Flatland Gallery.