With Cool Abstract Collage Permanently Installed, Rick Lowe Is On the Map at UH

With Cool Abstract Collage Permanently Installed, Rick Lowe Is On the Map at UH

The Line by Rick Lowe (Photo by Will Michels, courtesy of Public Art UHS)

LAST MONTH, IT was announced that Houston-based artist and Project Row Houses co-founder Rick Lowe’s majestic map collage The Line will be on permanent display to the public at the University of Houston’s new John M. O’Quinn Law Building.


Commissioned for the Public Art of the University of Houston System (Public Art UHS), the oldest and only collecting arts organization within the University of Houston System, the title of Lowe’s 108 x 96-inch acrylic and paper abstract collage, with its layers of emblematic domino-shaped patterns, refers to the Third Ward’s informal demarcation of Scott Street as the boundary between the University of Houston and the historically Black neighborhood in the early 1900s. “I wanted to create a piece that spoke to the complexity around urban development and the history of redlining, with the goal of ultimately inspiring people to examine these topics,” said Lowe in a statement.

Lowe, a MacArthur Genius who is represented by blue-chip gallery Gagosian, has explored these topics in other works, including his large-scale topographical painting “Project Row Houses: Hindsight,” which was a part of 2022’s acclaimed Urban Impressions exhibit at Rice University’s Moody Center for the Arts. “University of Houston is in the Third Ward, and it’s important to emphasize we are part of the community,” said Public Art UHS curator Michael Guidry. The abstracted cartography of The Line quite literally blurs these boundaries, and by doing so, imagines an initiative on the part of UH and Third Ward stakeholders to work together to preserve the heritage and culture of their respective communities.

In a statement, University of Houston Law Center Dean Leonard Baynes said the installation of “The Line” highlights the issues and topics students are learning in their courses and research and aligns with Public Art UHS’s mission to promote cultural exchanges and engender social consciousness. “These artworks are mirrors,” said Baynes, “sometimes reflecting social inequities, and referencing what our faculty teach: Knowledge, ethics, compassion, and remedies designed to make the world a better place.”

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