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Rice University Public Art Program

Magnificent Seven


This six-month exhibition features seven works of steel and bronze sculptures by internationally acclaimed artist James Surls. The project is a partnership between the Rice University Public Art Program and the Houston Arts Alliance, with support from a city of Houston Special Initiative Program grant and private donations.

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"I like to take things that you see in the natural world and cast them in a new light," Surls said. "I like to make art of the things we see in the natural world that are repeated over and over again, like the spiral - it's in a baby's cowlick, a blowing seed, the wind."


Surls has deep roots in the Houston arts environment. He taught at the University of Houston and helped create Lawndale Art Center, a nonprofit alternative space for the exhibition of contemporary works in all media, which helped launch Houston as a player in the national art scene. Surls' work has been featured in the collections of many prominent museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, The Menil Collection, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Until the 1990s, he was the only artist to be featured twice in the Whitney Museum of American Art's signature exhibition, the Biennial. He has also had exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institution, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Dallas Museum of Art and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

The Houston Arts Alliance is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that seeks to advance the nonprofit arts industry in the Houston region, thus contributing to the enhancement of the region's quality of life, economic competitiveness and attractiveness as a tourist destination. Its mission is to nurture, fund, advocate and promote participation in the arts in Houston and Harris County. For more information, visit houstonartsalliance.com .

The Rice Public Art Program builds on Rice University's commitment to incorporate art into its landscape and interior public spaces to create a more vibrant and dynamic campus that more intimately connects Rice with the arts community in Houston and beyond. The program also creates opportunities for artists of diverse artistic and cultural perspectives to engage viewers through both permanent and temporary exhibitions. publicart@rice.edu