Vinod Hopson, a Houston artist, storyteller, and cultural worker, died on February 28 at the age of 48.
Mr. Hopson was born on January 24, 1975 in Hoboken, New Jersey to Dawn (Miller) Hopson and Paul Hopson. His parents chose the name Vinod to reflect his mother’s Indian heritage. In India and Nepal, the name is used to mean “delight,” “enjoyment,” “pleasure,” and “happiness.” Mr. Hopson graduated from high school in Parsippany, NJ in 1993 and moved to Houston in 1996. He graduated cum laude with a BFA in Photography and Digital Media from the University of Houston (UH) in 2005.
During his time at UH, he became interested in the work of FotoFest founders Frederick Baldwin and Wendy Watriss. From 2001 to 2020 he managed the organization’s communications and press. Through his work at FotoFest, Mr. Hopson met his soulmate, Jennifer Ward. The couple married in 2010 and welcomed their daughter, Aarya Zuzu Hopson, into the world in 2018.
Earlier this week, FotoFest posted the following statement about Mr. Hopson on its social media channels: “It is with heavy hearts and deep sadness that we mourn the loss of Vinod Hopson, our beloved friend, former colleague, and champion of FotoFest. Vinod’s presence graced FotoFest for over 20 years, and he will always be part of the great legacy of the organization. We will miss him more than words can express…”
From 2004 to 2007, Mr. Hopson also held positions at other Houston-area art organizations, including DiverseWorks and Aurora Picture Show. Most recently, Mr. Hopson worked as the manager of Marketing and Creative Services at the School of Public Health at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.
Artistically, Mr. Hopson is best known for his research and storytelling project, Those Who Desire, which highlighted people and places of color that have long been overshadowed by the predominantly white narratives and histories of Houston. Through the culmination of detailed maps, interviews, and extensive research, Mr. Hopson led walking and bus tours of Downtown Houston, the city’s Historic Freedmen’s Town, and the 1917 Camp Logan Uprising. His most recent research focused on the Brazos River, where, according to the project website, “the state’s first slave plantations were established, the first Texas millionaires were made, and where Jim Crow tactics were first tested large-scale.”
Mr. Hopson was a two-time recipient of The Idea Fund, a Houston-based re-granting program funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and administered by DiverseWorks, Aurora Picture Show, and Project Row Houses. He received the award in 2016 and again in 2021. The funds went toward the development of Those Who Desire. Beyond this project, Mr. Hopson was an important fixture in the Houston art scene and was frequently invited to participate on panels and in collaborative projects.
In a statement on its Facebook page, DiverseWorks commented, “We mourn the passing of Vinod Hopson, a friend, colleague, and former employee of DiverseWorks (2005-07) who we greatly loved and admired for his unique mind, storytelling finesse, kindness, and generous spirit. His brilliant project, Those Who Desire… had a direct effect upon DiverseWorks staff and our programming… we are immeasurably grateful to have had the opportunity to work with a human being of such compassion, dignity, and humor…”
Of her husband, Mrs. Ward has said, “Vinod was the personification of his name. Wherever he went, he carried joy with him to light up the lives of those he met. He had a passion for cooking, trivia, music and pampering chickens. He was a wonderful son, a loyal brother, a loving husband and father. To the countless hearts he touched, Vinod leaves a legacy of love, hope and courage. He will be sorely missed.”
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 am on Saturday, March 18 at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Midtown, with a reception to follow.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Vinod’s memory to The National Multiple Sclerosis Society.