Preview: Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University
Moody Center for the Arts opens its jaw dropping building on Rice Campus this Friday, February 24. The 52,000-square-foot facility, designed by LA based architect Michael Maltzan, will serve as an experimental platform for creating and presenting interdisciplinary arts and collaboration. Working with the arts, sciences, and humanities the facility will not only serve to present experimental works, but to act as a flexible teaching space to encourage new modes of creating and a forum for creative partnerships nationally and internationally. The facility broke ground January of 2023 and has had a multi-million dollar campaign behind it. Funders include The Moody Development, as well as support from The Brown Foundation, The Elkins Foundation, The Gilder Foundations, Nancy and Clint Carlson, with additional programming support from Suzanne Deal Booth, and Leslie and Brad Bucher. The open layout of the new facility creates a welcoming dialog for new projects and programming as well as a providing an easy orientation point of view for all students, scholars, artists, and visitors.
The new center at Rice presents its facilities at an optimal time for Houston and its ever growing creative community. Free Press Houston was invited on a private press tour of the new building, and the plan laid out for the new programming is outstanding. An intro was provided by Executive Director Alison Weaver and architectural insight by Michael Maltzan laying out the vision behind such a large arts campus. Once inside the new space you are greeted with a beautiful open airy interior with vaulted ceilings and natural light coming from all directions. Within the main space Olafur Eliasson’s new project Green Light, commissioned by The Moody Center for the Arts. “Green Light, an artist workshop, addresses the international refugee crisis and the current geopolitical issues surrounding global migration. It gives the green ‘go ahead’ light to asylum seekers, refugees and economic migrants by inviting them to participate in the multifaceted modular green lamps, as well as language courses, seminars, artist’s interventions and film screenings.” The crystalline lamps lay out on tables with components and 3D printed parts laid about. An installation of the lamps are presented on the main wall displaying the clean, simple, and yet complex concept of the project as a whole.
The main gallery presents the inaugural opening show of works by Thomas Struth. “Nature and Politics” reconsiders how the process of imagination and fantasy works in our collective minds and to show the imperceptible manifestations of technology and science shape our reality. For the past decade Thomas Struth has photographed sites of techno industrial and scientific research, including space stations and operating theaters, visually exploring topics of technological innovation and the constructed landscape. The large scale images command the room with vast and vibrant imagery or the tranquility and chaos of the scientific landscape. From the disturbing images of a table of silicone body parts and breasts to the clean fine edges of a research structure perched on the edge of a bay or lake, Struth presents an almost fantasy view of technology.
The building’s programming exhibitions provide an all-senses experience with new media project by teamLab, a Tokyo-based interdisciplinary group of ultra technologist. Their installation “Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled But Live Together - A Whole Year per Hour,” is a 2023 interactive installation that addressed the theme of the seasons, which is central to Japanese culture and frequently reflected in Japanese art. The viewer enters a door which leads you through a pitch black corridor and spills you into a large squared room with 360 projections of animated flowers gradually budding, blossoming, growing, and fading. It’s only after a few minutes inside the flower womb that you realize the petals and flowers are growing uncontrollably around you wherever you are standing. Soon creating a colorful blur and mess of flowers and blooms. The entire building, its programming goals, and direction is stellar and a massive creative leap for Rice University. Wondering through the new building unveils exciting make spaces, meeting rooms, hidden projects, virtual reality work rooms, and many more hive environments. It was truly amazing to see such a well funded project, not only completed in what appeared to be lightning timeline, but to have an endless vision and collaboration for the surrounding city, creative realm, and its campus.
Ribbon-cutting with Mayor Sylvestor Turner kicks off the celebratory four day weekend on Friday, February 24 at 4 pm. The Moody Center for the Arts opens to the public with a dedication ceremony, cutting-edge exhibitions, premiere performances, and free parties for Houston and Rice University later that evening from 7 to 10 pm. More information about the full weekend schedule can be found at www.moody.rice.edu.