Rice Public Art renews focus

As Rice Public Art prepares to enter its 10th year, it strives to continue to bring art to campus and integrate public art into academic life in exciting and unconventional ways.

Evan Garza, director of Rice Public Art

Evan Garza, director of Rice Public Art, said the program has a renewed focus on actively collecting and working with living contemporary artists on temporary exhibitions of public art, artist residencies and public art programs throughout the Rice campus.

“Rice has a really unique campus,” Garza said. “It’s sprawling. It’s gorgeous. It has an elaborate, dense canopy of various types of oak trees, huge green spaces and beautiful architectural structures. It’s the perfect platform for public artists to engage.”

President David Leebron established Rice Public Art as a university wide arts initiative in 2008. The collection, which reaches across the Rice campus, is free and available to students, visitors and the general public.

“For a long time, the relationship between public art and the campus has been in

the form of outdoor sculptures,” Garza said. “What’s exciting about what’s to come through Rice Public Art is the manner in which both academics and research taking place at Rice will be activated by contemporary artists who will visit campus and bring their work, practice and ideas.”

Rice Public Art strives to incorporate art into academic life at Rice, so students can discover the possibility of art — the relationship between art and science and technology.

Mark di Suvero’s ‘Po-um (Lyric)’ was moved to the green next to the Moody Center for the Arts in September.

Rice Public Art debuted the “Platform” series this fall, which invites contemporary artists to respond to artworks, architectural structures and research on campus.

Artist Jarrod Beck inaugurated the series with “Origin, 135 degrees,” a sculpture and performance that takes Michael Heizer’s massive monolithic work, “45°, 90 °, 180 °” (1984) as its point of departure. After working with the Rice community, hosting student workshops at the Moody Center for the Arts and organizing collaborative performances, Beck will build a temporary public sculpture that will remain on view through summer 2018.

“Between Rice’s many resources and the caliber of research that is taking place here, it’s an incredible opportunity for a living artist to be able to come here and make work,” Garza said. “There are so many possibilities, and it’s inspiring to imagine what’s to come.”


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On Nov. 9, the Moody is hosting an art walk for graduate students to introduce them to the arts at Rice and encourage them to become involved. The art walk begins at 5:30 p.m. at Valhalla, where it will also end. The walk will include stops at the Mickalene Thomas exhibit at the Moody and the Trenton Doyle Hancock exhibit in Sewall Hall, before ending at Valhalla for drinks. It is being presented by the Moody, the Graduate Student Association and the Humanities Graduate Student Association.

As part of another exciting program this fall, Houston-based artist and scientist Joseph Cohen will present his work in a solo exhibition “Looking at a flower,” at the BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC). An opening reception is set for Nov. 16 at 5:30 p.m. Following a Rice Public Art residency in the Weisman NanoEngineering Laboratory of the Department of Chemistry, Cohen will conduct research focused on using carbon nanotubes to produce paintings, photos, prints and new sound works that both address and illustrate the unique optical and physical properties of the material.

Rice Public Art frequently works with the BRC, the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts, Rice  Architecture, the School of Humanities, the Shepherd School of Music and student organizations to broadly integrate public art into academic life at Rice.

“Rice is a university that is committed to the unknown, that is committed to pathbreaking research, and similarly, Rice Public Art is committed to working with artists who are pioneers interested in breaking down barriers between art and science and performance and technology,” Garza said.

The Moody Center for the Arts

Rice Public Art has also worked closely with the Moody since its opening in February.

“It’s perfect that Rice Public Art should have a home in the Moody Center of the Arts, which is so committed to artists who are breaking conventions,” Garza said. “Rice is one of the most prestigious institutions in the country, and it has a public art program that is in keeping with that prestige.”

To view the full collection of Rice Public Art, visit: https://moody.rice.edu/public-art-collection.

About Kendall Schoemann

Kendall Schoemann is a staff writer in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.