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Frankfort creates new art piece for BRC space

By Farrah Madanay     11/28/12 6:00pm


Hanging from the wall of the main stairwell in the BioScience Research Collaborative is "Think," a 14-by-9 foot bright yellow painting by Dana Frankfort, commissioned by the Rice Public Art Program. "Think" joins Leo Villareal's "Radiant Pathway" in the second-floor cafe and James Surls' "Walking Molecular Flower" in the main courtyard of the BRC as part of Rice Public Art's program to advance culture on Rice's campus. 

Frankfort's largest work to date, "Think" is visually accessible from both stories of the BRC. The acrylic work animates the stairwell with a mixture of bright, bold colors and text. The word "think" is expressively scrawled in abstract lines and brushstrokes integrated as a formal element of the painting. The text, coupled with layers of iridescent orange, purple, yellow and white hues of paint engages viewers, whose perception changes with their spatial relationship to the painting as they ascend and descend the stairs. 

"The scale of [the] text acts as a magnet that pulls you toward itself," University Art Director Molly Hubbard said. "It's a confrontation where you don't get bruised." 

Frankfort said she presented the BRC stakeholders and the Rice Art Committee with a list of words to choose for the subject matter of her painting. "Think" emerged as a highly abstracted acrylic painting incorporating the word into a golden color palette scheme, Frankfort said. 

"The word 'think' ties her painting together with the science space," Assistant to the Rice Public Art Program Hallie Jordan said. 

At the Nov. 19 opening reception, Hubbard officially introduced the painting. Hubbard commissioned Frankfort, a native Houstonian who formally teaches at Boston University's College of Fine Arts, to become an artist-in-residence at Rice University in order to create the site-specific work. 

Frankfort, who has exhibited her work since 1999, won a Guggenheim fellowship in 2005, and in the same year was featured in her first solo exhibition, What's So Funny, in Brooklyn, NY. Her latest solo exhibition, Pictures, took place at the Inman Gallery in Houston in 2010. 

Hubbard said she commissioned Frankfort because she was enamored by the energy and visual tension in Frankfort's work. 

"[Frankfort's] work emanates emotional energy, with text as a formal element in a hyper-delicious juxtaposition," Hubbard said. 

Over the course of the year, Frankfort spent time with the researchers and in the spaces of the BRC to acculturate herself to the environment of her commissioned work. Frankfort said her own perception of the painting changed once it was hung beneath the recessed can lights because she had never seen it vertically. Frankfort had worked on the painting with the canvas laid horizontally in a physics laboratory on campus. 

"I drilled brushes together to make a huge roller to paint the canvas," Frankfort said. "The brushwork marks the archaeology of the painting. The text is only a secondary reading." 

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