South African beaders to assemble large-scale tapestries at Rice

As part of a collaboration with Houston-based artist Selven O’Keef Jarmon and Art League Houston (ALH), Rice Public Art will host highly skilled South African beaders through Aug. 29. The beaders will use X-Lab in Rice’s BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC) as their studio to help assemble Jarmon’s temporary art installation, “360 Degrees Vanishing,” consisting of four large-scale beaded tapestries made of approximately 350,000 acrylic beads.

Image courtesy of Art League Houston.

X-Lab, in Suite 202 of the BRC, is a space used for collaborative and interdisciplinary projects that connect the Rice campus with broader Houston communities.

Upon completion, the beaded tapestries will be mounted on the exterior walls of ALH’s building on Montrose Boulevard to form “360 Degrees Vanishing.” The unveiling is planned for late October.

The installation addresses the gradual disappearance of the beading culture within South Africa in particular, as well as the vanishing parts of various cultures that are taken for granted but have been disappearing from everyday life. “360 Degrees Vanishing” reimagines the possibilities of how a traditional medium, such as beading, can be revisioned and reactivated by placing it in a new context and landscape.

Spearheaded by ALH, the project is an international cultural exchange with South Africa, and ALH is working with the South African government, as well as the Craft and Cultural Hub of the Eastern Cape and the South African Cultural Minister’s Office. The project has received major support from Rice University, Louisa Stude Sarofim, the Morgan Family Foundation and the city of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance. Other partners include Texas Southern University, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and Workshop Houston.

The Rice community is being invited to help with the assembly process; demonstrations and workshops will be held to illustrate the historical and contemporary relevance of beadwork in South Africa.

“We’re excited to support Jarmon’s vision and this unique cross-cultural endeavor,” said Molly Hubbard, director of Rice Public Art. “It will be an amazing opportunity for the Rice community to engage with the beaders and learn about their craft.”

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.