Driving through northern Houston on an exceptionally hot day in December, Mitchell reece retrace his steps.

The visual artist and educator has just completed his first semester of art classes at his alma mater, Prairie View A&M University. We navigate the streets of Studewood (Independence Heights) then to Acres Homes where he shows us his old daycare, the hair salon, the library and the community center he used as a child. “This is Mecca. Everything in my life, my work started here.

We arrive at her maternal grandmother’s home, the destination of her family gatherings and the place that feeds her artistic practice. Formally trained as a graphic designer and working in multiple mediums, Reece uses painting to unlock and preserve memories of her past. “I try to capture people’s minds in my paintings,” he tells me as he stands in a living room adorned with framed photographs, a comfortable recliner, and a wooden piano his grand -mother was playing. “I am thinking about how to reclaim the memories, the space and the lives of people who are no longer there.”

His latest body of work has a spiritual quality, domestic scenes on a plain black background and sometimes faceless characters grouped together in communion. Large-scale paintings are usually based on old photographs of relatives, such as his aunts and cousins, but sometimes drawn from his imagination. “I would have these recurring dreams that started in my grandmother’s living room, the lights were very dim and a glimmer of light appeared. It took a long time to understand, but I always come back to the living room. There is something in there.

Motivated by a desire to preserve family history, Reece has a deep sense of neighborhood pride that permeates her work. He was born in 1990 and came of age during the boom in the Houston rap scene. From the 7th grade he was introduced to Swishahouse Records, the Acres Homes music label that spawned pioneering rap talents including Slim Thug, Mike Jones and OG Ron C. Like many artists of his generation, Reece’s creative spirit flourished when he was a child who, alongside his friends, drew characters from his favorite television. shows like Dragon Ball Z and Pokemon. As a child, he was always in harmony with his surroundings, watching and observing closely the details of his daily life. Reece uses art to reflect the community that made it. Education, creativity and innovation are in its blood; his two grandmothers were teachers, his father was a cartoonist who shared magazines and Lowrider art books with him, and his grandfather designed spaceships for NASA in the mid-1960s. Reece’s mother Carolyn Hausey always knew he would grow up to be an artist, saying, “I feel so honored that he tells our family story in his paintings. He’s always been so curious and it makes me happy that he captures those memories.

After graduating from Klein Forest High School and attending PVAMU, Reece found her place in local arts institutions like CAMH and Le Menil. At the undergraduate level, he was supervised by an artist and museum director Lauren Kelley and grew up seeing the emergence of the city’s most prominent visual artists, including Nathaniel Donnet, Jamal Cyrus, Robert Hodge and Robert Pruitt. “I always felt like I was part of this network. They showed me what I could do. I am grateful to have come with this generation because they had already crossed and experienced the art world.

In 2016, he moved to New York City and marked the start of a concentrated dedication to his practice. He earned a master’s degree in fine arts and design from the School of Visual Arts, taught at the Pratt Institute, and lived in Brooklyn. He drew inspiration from graffiti and street art and was immersed in a thriving artist community. Today, he divides his time between Harlem and Houston, painting and teaching.

Most recently he was chosen among four other artists of a design competition that CAMH, organized in collaboration with Dirty south exposure. Now he’s getting ready for a solo presentation 3402: A Labor of Love, which is based on his recurring dream, the culture and the landscape of his community.

Coming home has always been Reece’s mission. “Houston is home to some of the most influential creatives. There are so many taste makers. Even if we don’t have the resources, we are making our way.