The art of place and the place of art at Project Row Houses
Smith, Stephanie Paige
Master of Arts thesis
Located within one of Houston's oldest African-American neighborhoods, Project Row Houses blends art and community revitalization under the repeated roof-peaks of once-decrepit shotgun row houses. Eight of the twenty-two houses shelter changing art installations that form the heart of the project; the rest provide settings for activities ranging from an after-school arts program to transitional housing for young single mothers. This thesis traces the importance of place in the development of Project Row Houses, and in the nature of the art exhibited there. It also proposes characteristics of place-based art. "Place" here denotes physical location as well as the layers of history and culture that are created, sustained or recovered by those who have meaningful interaction with a location. In a contemporary world often described as fragmented and place-less, Project Row Houses' founders, by embedding their project in the specificity of a place, have activated a community and brought art into vibrant contact with the whole of life.
Cultural anthropology; Fine arts; Art history