Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Tuesday, June 18, 2019 — Houston, TX 85°

​VADA alumnus transforms house into art studio

house_story_courtesy_max_fields

Photo courtesy to Max Fields

By Christina Tan     8/29/18 12:37am

Embedded in Houston’s Third Ward lies Project Row Houses, a group of shotgun houses that includes converted Summer Studios for seven local art students and emerging artists.

This summer, Elizabeth Denton (Duncan ‘18) took on the task of transforming her assigned house into a complete studio and further refining the art skills she developed during her time as a Visual and Dramatic Arts major. Her art, substantial and beautiful, beckons viewers for a closer look when juxtaposed with the repurposed house.

The Summer Studios project began in 2006 with the intent to facilitate interactions between emerging artists and the local community, according to Project Row Houses’ website. Denton joined a long list of previous Studios residents which includes several other Rice alumni, such as Huidi Xiang (Duncan ‘18), Heather Wright (Lovett ‘18), and Amiri Boykin (Jones ‘15). According to Denton, it was her visit to Wright’s house that inspired her own residency.



Denton used her new space to house an exhibition of colorful, floral, coffin-like wood frames. The “coffins” are covered with fabric collage and produce a stunning yet eerie sculpture. Onlookers can peer into and around the “coffins,” which seem to be overgrown with cloth pieces and colorful collaging.

“The coffin inspires me as a metaphor for my artistic process,” Denton said. “In [my] process, I accumulate and process material. The material is given vibrant life energy by being given context; when juxtaposed, materials play off each other visually, and this interplay creates emergent effects.”

The overall effect is that of a paradox – coffins, usually associated with death and sadness, spring forth with brightness and seem to overflow with potential. Denton uses this juxtaposition to represent the decay of human bodies in coffins and the subsequent new life that this decay brings.

“The material of the decaying body is processed and combined in new ways, transforming into support for new life to emerge,” Denton said. “I’m using the coffin form as a frame to emphasize the connection this form has to the alchemical, digestive force driving my art making.”

The houses-turned-studios represent more than simply space to create art. The artists face the physical challenge of no air-conditioning in the Houston summer heat as well as the mental challenge of finding newfound responsibility to self-direct their artwork.

“At Rice, most of the logistics of creating work were taken care of by others,” Denton said. “ At Project Row Houses, the responsibility for logistics fell completely on the resident artists’ shoulders.”

Denton said her Summer Studios experience has encouraged her to continue working with wood coffin forms and collaging. She said she hopes to work further with clothing construction, ink and paint, and is looking forward to a break before continuing with her artistic career.

The Summer Studios residency has concluded, but the exhibitions will be open for public viewing until Sept. 16. Interested visitors can see Denton’s work from Wednesday to Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m. at 2521 Holman St.



More from The Rice Thresher

A&E 5/9/19 4:00pm
Vampire Weekend expertly packages insight and maturity on new album ‘Father of the Bride’

The second half of the album departs from the sunshine of the first half by evoking more somber, contemplative tones. Tracks “Sympathy” and “Sunflower” experiment with electronic synth and funk influences. As a result, Vampire Weekend’s effort to synthesize different genres with their trademark indie rock at particular points in the album is highly appreciated, and saves Father of the Bride from becoming a sidekick to Modern Vampires. 

A&E 4/22/19 9:45pm
Ktru Outdoor Show delivers eight hours of sunny entertainment

On Saturday, the Central Quad came alive as a multitude of students and community members gathered on picnic blankets for the 28th annual ktru outdoor show. The show, lasting eight total hours, featured a diverse mix of acts from the quirky indie duo Coco & Clair Clair to the intimidating performance of Kilo Kish. 

A&E 4/20/19 2:35pm
Identities laid bare at senior art show

Nineteen visual and dramatic arts students, most of whom are double majors, presented their work at the senior art show last night. Their passion bleeds out into sculpture, painting and film but also through these other academic and cultural aspects of their lives — all on display in Sewall Hall. 


Comments

Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.