State Artists for 2023 & 2024

The Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) is pleased to announce the Texas State Legislature’s 2023 and 2024 appointments to the positions of state poet laureate, state musician, state two-dimensional artist and state three-dimensional artist.


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Photo credit: Frank Maddocks

Steeped in the grand tradition of the American songbook, Gary Clark Jr. has emerged as a 21st-century rock ‘n’ roll messiah; a blues virtuoso who blends in reggae, punk, R&B, hip-hop, and soul, re-shaping the genre for our time. He’s been doing his thing since he was a kid in Austin, Texas, but made global waves in 2014 following his first GRAMMY Award®: Best Traditional R&B Performance for “Please Come Home” from his 2012 debut, Blak and Blu. Clark ascended to greater heights in 2019 with his third full-length, the sensual and socially conscious This Land, which hit #6 on the Billboard Top 200, his third consecutive Top 10 debut. This Land garnered acclaim from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and many more. Clark has topped bills at festivals and venues like the Hollywood Bowl, made appearances sharing the stage with The Rolling Stones, and performed at the White House for the Obamas. In 2020, Clark cleaned up at the GRAMMYs®, taking home Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song (“This Land”), and Best Contemporary Blues Album. He performed “This Land” backed by The Roots during the ceremony, releasing the live version as a single. To date, Clark has six GRAMMY® nominations and four wins. He has performed on national TV, making stops at Saturday Night Live, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and more. Clark is currently working on a follow-up to This Land, continuing to experiment and push the possibilities of American roots music. 


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ire’ne lara silva is the author of five poetry collections, furia, Blood Sugar Canto, CUICACALLI/House of Song, FirstPoems, and the eaters of flowers (January 2024). She has also written two chapbooks, Enduring Azucares and Hibiscus Tacos, and a short story collection, flesh to bone, which won the Premio Aztlán. ire’ne is the recipient of a 2021 Tasajillo Writers Grant, a 2017 National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures Fund for the Arts Grant, the final Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Award, and was the Fiction Finalist for A Room of Her Own Foundation’s (AROHO) 2013 Gift of Freedom Award. In 2021, ire’ne was awarded the Texas Institute of Letters Shrake Award for Best Short Nonfiction. ire’ne is currently a Writer at Large for Texas Highways Magazine and is working on a second collection of short stories titled the light of your body. 


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Born in 1942 and raised in El Paso’s Segundo Barrio, Gaspar Enriquez earned a BA in art from the University of Texas at El Paso in 1970 and an MA in metals from New Mexico State University in 1985. His dramatic portraits range from works on paper of writer Rudolfo Anaya, artist Luis Jimenez, and artist John Valadez for the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian, to 24-feet-high pieces commissioned for the San Antonio Convention Center, to illustrations for Rudolfo Anaya’s Elegy on the Death of Cesar Chavez. No matter their size, his powerful, acrylic, air-brushed portraits reveal his subjects’ dignity and demand the viewer’s attention. His works are held by museums including the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, the Tucson Museum of Art, the El Paso Museum of Art, and by private collectors such as Cheech Marin. 

Mr. Enriquez is the recipient of the Father Rahm Segundo Barrio Person of the Year Award (2016) and a Mid-America Arts Alliance Fellowship (1994). In 2015, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Texas at El Paso. 


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Photo credit: Bonni Oakes

James C. Watkins is a ceramic artist who has worked with clay for over 40 years. His work is held in 25 permanent collections, including the White House Collection of American Crafts at the Clinton Library, the Shigaraki Institute of Ceramic Studies in Shigaraki, Japan, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, the Everson Museum, the Tweed Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Watkins’ work has been widely exhibited in 47 solo exhibitions and 172 group exhibitions. 

Watkins is a Texas Tech University, Horn Distinguished Professor Emeritus and the 2019 recipient of the HCCC Texas Master Award presented by the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. 

Watkins is the author of Reflections Made of Memories and the co-author of two books: Alternative Kilns & Firing Techniques co-authored with Paul Andrew Wandless, and Architectural Delineation: Presentation Techniques and Projects, co-authored with James T. Davis. His work is the subject of the book A Meditation of Fire: The Art of James C. Watkins by Kippra D. Hopper. Watkins has also written numerous articles for national and international magazines. He received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and his MFA from Indiana University. 


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Kelly Clarkson is one of the most popular artists of this era, with worldwide sales of more than 25 million albums and 40 million singles. The Fort Worth born, Burleson-raised singer-songwriter first came to fame in 2002 as the winner of the inaugural season of American Idol. Clarkson is one of pop’s top singles artists, with 17 singles boasting multi-platinum, platinum and gold certifications around the world, one EP, one greatest hits album, and two best-selling children’s books.  

Clarkson was honored with the 2,733rd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is the recipient of three consecutive Daytime Emmy Awards, three GRAMMY Awards, four American Music Awards, three MTV Video Music Awards, one MTV Movie & TV Award, two Academy of Country Music Awards, two American Country Awards and one Country Music Association Award. She is also the first artist to top each of Billboard’s pop, adult contemporary, country and dance charts. 


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Photo Credit: Cindy Elizabeth

Amanda Johnston was born in East St. Louis, Illinois, and raised in Austin, Texas. She began writing poetry while living in Kentucky. 

She earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine. She is the author of two chapbooks, GUAP and Lock & Key, and the full-length collection Another Way to Say Enter. Her work has appeared in Callaloo, Poetry Magazine, Puerto del Sol, Muzzle, and the anthologies, Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry and Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism. She is the cofounder of Black Poets Speak Out, and founder of Torch Literary Arts. 

Named one of Blavity’s “13 Black Poets You Should Know,” Amanda’s work has been featured on Bill Moyers, the Poetry Society of America’s series In Their Own Words, and the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day series. She was commissioned to curate a collection of poems for the Poetry Coalition on the theme Where My Dreaming and My Loving Life: Poetry & the Body. 


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Photo Credit: Aarik Charles

Michael Ray Charles was born in 1967 in Lafayette, Louisiana, and received a BFA from McNeese State University in 1989. In 1993, Charles received an MFA from the University of Houston, where he is the Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of Painting. 

Charles’ work explores historic African-American stereotypes from the Antebellum South, appropriating images from advertising and pop culture to expose the underlying racism prevalent in contemporary culture. He creates a vocabulary of cultural, racial and historical images to explore caricatures that continue to survive in popular media, such as Aunt Jemima or Sambo. 

Mr. Charles was among the first artists showcased in the PBS series Art21. His work is represented in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and other major museum collections in both the US and abroad. He lectures and exhibits nationally and internationally. In 2018, Charles received the prestigious Joseph H. Hazen Rome Prize, awarded to artists at the forefront of their disciplines and one of the most prestigious awards a practicing artist can receive. 


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Photo Credit: Clara Lewis-Valero

When Diana Kersey was growing up in Lubbock, her parents let her dig a mud pit in their backyard. Thirteen inches down, she hit clay, and she’s been working with it ever since. 
Kersey is a visual artist working exclusively in clay, from small studio pieces to large architectural installations. Her work has become instantly identifiable, due to the muscular, spontaneous qualities of the material enhanced with her colorful, translucent glazes. 
Her public works have been commissioned by the City of San Antonio, VIA Metropolitan Transit, the San Antonio River Authority, and the City of Harlingen. In 2021 she completed her largest private commission to date, The Riparian Edge, for a San Antonio office tower. 
Kersey earned an MFA in ceramics from Washington State University in 1997, and a BFA in drawing from Texas Tech University in 1994. She is on faculty at Northwest Vista College and owns and operates Kersey Ceramics LLC in San Antonio.