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Negative space: Moody Center's lack of student art spaces concerns VADA students

(03/08/17 11:00am)

Two weeks after the Moody Center for the Arts’ opening celebration, the center’s planned inaugural performance of the visual and dramatic arts theater department’s production “Proof” was relocated to Hamman Hall instead. This development comes amid greater concern from several VADA students and a faculty member that the center may not serve their needs.


A eulogy for Rice Gallery

(02/15/17 8:00am)

For 22 years, the Rice Gallery has been a crown jewel for the arts at Rice. This semester will see the space’s final exhibition before the Gallery’s closure and apparent absorption into the Moody Center for the Arts, and that’s a move I can’t help but mourn.Unique in its format for a university exhibition space, the large-scale, site-specific installations that graced the ground floor of Sewall Hall had a special effect.





Interdisciplinary gallery opens in arts district

(11/10/15 3:22pm)

The Washington Avenue Arts District is believed to have the highest concentration of working artists in the state of Texas, and the opening of the SITE Houston exhibition presented a microcosm of this cultural hub. The space featured 30 Houston artists, whose work is as diverse as their backgrounds. The Silos at Sawyer Yard occupies one of Houston’s oldest buildings, a former rice warehouse in the First Ward. SITE Houston makes use of the silos which were used to store rice by repurposing them as individual artist’s spaces. The silos are arranged in the style of a honeycomb with one to three entrances each. Visitors make their way from room to room in the approximately 9,000-square-foot space. The comprehensive experience in the gallery is unique; each artist’s space is completely immersive, a cylinder containing each installation. The spaces in between each room, however, retain a dominantly industrial feel, leaving bare the history of the building.Lina Dib, creator of one of the installations, is both a Houston artist and a professor at Rice. Dib teaches First-Year Writing Intensive Seminar courses for the Program in Writing and Communication and holds a doctorate in anthropology.Her piece, “Pool of Sound,” fills one silo with blue light and the sound of water in response to the motion of the viewer. Sound has become an important part of Dib’s academic and artistic life following anthropology research she conducted in the United Kingdom, which included exploring the relationship between sound and memory.“I like playing with the idea of making the invisible visible,” Dib said. “Or at least palpable, into something you can feel. So maybe it’s an argument against empty space, or at least the interconnectedness of things.”Another moment of intersection of Dib’s interests in anthropology and art is in the life of the building, one of few in Houston that has stood for over a hundred years.“Tonight I met someone who used to work here; the reason she came was because she spent 29 years working in this rice packing facility and wanted to see what the space has turned into,” Dib said. “That was really interesting, to get to hear stories from someone who inhabited this building when it was a completely different building.” Gary Watson and Syd Moen also took interest in the life of the building. Their piece, “Silos Project,” documents the space in two distinct ways. One side of their silo is devoted to Watson’s more traditional photography, while Moen’s side runs clips of her 360-degree videography.“Silos Project” documents the nature of the building before and during its transformation into its current purpose.“You still felt like there was something left from the prior use of the building,” Watson said. “There was this feeling that somebody had just walked away from work one day and had just left the building … As I walked around … I was looking for the details, the signs of prior life in the building … so that I could capture the essence of what had gone on before.”Moen’s 360-degree videography captures a panoramic and incredibly busy view of the warehouse, contrasting with Watson’s static black and white images.“I’ve been playing with 360-degree imagery for over 15 years, [since] the very beginning,” Moen said. “It’s a great opportunity to play in a historical building and to try out new technology.”Aaron Courtland’s “Space Station in the Silos,” meanwhile, makes use of a projector and mirrors.“I wanted to explore space more abstractly,” Courtland said. “So in the rotating images on the projector you’ll see different interpretations of space: clouds, water, landscapes, and as they hit over a thousand mirrors inside the silo they have these light prisms of color that dance on the opposite wall.”Other installations included a wide variety of mediums and themes. “Passage” by Trey Duvall drips water onto a block of clay, slowly changing its shape over the course of its display. Nadia Pacheco and Andrea Porter’s “Which way to the rice?” features gentle flower patterns made of rice covering the floor. “Silo Flower” places the viewer inside of the petals of a giant vinyl flower, its stamens strands of flashing blue lights.SITE Houston is located at 1502 Sawyer Street, in the Washington Avenue Arts District and has no admission fee. It will be open Saturdays from 5-9 p.m. until Jan. 30.



Rice Gallery debuts new exhibit

(09/30/15 5:18am)

A six-foot cube hangs from the ceiling in the center of the gallery, with a single light bulb suspended in the middle of the box. Together, they manage to fill the entire space, from ceiling to floor, with patterned shadows that are composed of lines and geometric shapes. The details of the cube are defined and delicate, but they become distorted as they fill the rest of the room; the patterns are stretched and expanded on the walls. It is impossible to step into the gallery without becoming yet another piece of the art: The light and shadow from the center of the room are cast onto the viewer’s body, while the viewer’s shadow is thrown to the floor and the wall behind them.


Senior studio cultivates innovation

(09/09/15 3:22pm)

There is no classroom on campus quite like Senior Studio. The room is divided into a maze of white walls, together forming each of the students’ studio spaces. The spaces are occupied with eclectic objects and media: photographs, couches, projections, a bicycle. Voices echo throughout the room as the senior art students and their professors discuss each project.In Senior Studio, a required class for all art majors, seniors work together, capping four years spent apart in specialized classes. Students get more freedom and more opportunities for collaboration, and their own spaces to curate as they please.Natasha Bowdoin, the professor for the course, said the course has two primary goals: first, to provide students with research practice that ultimately leads into their senior thesis exhibition, and second, to expose students to art through critical viewing and discussion.“Viewing exhibitions and listening to other artists speak about their work is a means to stimulate what happens inside the students’ own studios as well,” Bowdoin said. “[Senior Studio] is an important class because it gets closest to what it’s like to be an artist in the world making work.”Bowdoin said the class is also important because it encourages students to develop a more nuanced view of both art and life in general.“Another goal of mine ... is to help give these students, whatever their future careers, a lens through which to understand the world,” Bowdoin said. “An artistic perspective can sometimes be considered deliberately weird ... but in my opinion it can actually contribute to a clearer, deeper perception of the things and people around us.”Baker College senior Ashlyn Herd, a student currently taking the class, said Senior Studio requires students to take on a range of new responsibilities in showcasing their work.”“What is different is having so much control over our own spaces and ultimately having a show that we do all by ourselves,” Herd said. Another student in the class, Baker College senior Claire O’Malley, said her favorite part of the class is its emphasis on collaboration and the lack of highly specific requirements.“I’m going to learn a lot just by hearing people talking over their work,” O’Malley said. “It’s [also] new to have this amount of freedom.”Bowdoin said she tries to include projects throughout the course that allow students the freedom to experiment, but also provide enough guidance to generate growth.“Senior Studio in part is really about giving each student the time, space and encouragement to fully realize their own individual body of work,” Bowdoin said. “This requires time and space for a lot of student-driven activity, but I think also needs to be balanced with some prompts to help them along the way.”The class’s first assignment required the students to curate a studio space using found objects. Students interpreted the task in a variety of ways. Herd, for example, located pillows and cushions she felt a strong personal attachment toward and arranged them into a giant, three-dimensional quilt that she displayed on the wall. She said her focus is exploring new concepts, in terms of both medium and subject.“I want to develop myself in ways that I am less comfortable with,” Herd said. “The piece I did today plays with the idea of 2-D and 3-D and something that is familiar. The couch cushions are personal to me and unfamiliar to anyone else who looked at them.”O’Malley took a different route: She took pictures of spaces like the freezer and the medicine cabinet of the house she moved into this year, and blew them up into giant prints that she assembled on the walls of her space. The pictures show the spaces as they were when O’Malley first moved in, full of miscellaneous items the former tenants left behind, with the addition of small army men O’Malley arranged around them. She said she intended to explore the ways people live their lives within their constrained spaces.These senior students will continue to work throughout the year in preparation for their end of the year show in the spring, which will be open to all students and faculty.