Public Art Projects / University of Houston, Houston Texas
Size: 12 - 13' high x 5' – 9' wide / Location: University of Houston, Calhoun Lofts Project. (International Graduate Student Housing Complex) Houston Texas / Material: Bronze, Grey granite and Indian Red granite. Plaza: grey granite pavers
The project is comprised of three gourd like objects, two in stone and one in cast bronze.
The University is a place for the exchange of dialogue. A learning environment : it provides a site for people from all over the world to intellectually, mentally and physically come together.
It is with these aspects in mind, that I found myself attracted to the gourd as a form and its' attached history.
Gourds are one of the first plants to be cultivated throughout the world and have been in use for thousands of years. Of all the known plant types, the gourd is one of the few that experts believe spanned the entire globe on prehistoric times. It was used by virtually every culture. The relationship between gourds and man is a tale of survival and invention. Its usage varied from food storage containers, baby bottles, holding ashes of the dead, cooking utensils and flotation devices for fishing nets and people. They also served as hats, jewelry, armor, cradles for children to sleep in and toys to play with. It's been used for decoration, musical instruments and even has been used as money. Gourds are an example of Nature's excellence for design. Their forms are timeless. In Japan, gourds are a talisman of good luck and fortunes. There is an ancient saying which translates, "a top comes out of a gourd," and means unexpected things happen: such is life. The university is a place for life to be filled with the inspiration of unexpected happenings.
The artwork reflects a conduit of past to the present in relation to form and history. The traditional gourd like forms are surfaced with patterning taken from three "snapshots", moments that ignite the educational journey: stairs, weaving and patching. Images were developed from these and then translated to three dimensional surface treatments on the forms. These manipulated surfaces that caress the forms, create a wonderfully active vista that promotes a dialogue of inside and outside, illuminating the inherent nature and connectivity of the vessel.