Lecture by MacArthur Foundation Fellow Rick Lowe
MacArthur Fellow and current Breeden Scholar in Residence at Auburn University Rick Lowe is an artist whose unconventional approach to community revitalization has transformed a long-neglected neighborhood in Houston into a visionary public art project that continues to evolve, two decades since its inception. Originally trained as a painter, Lowe shifted the focus of his artistic practice in the early 1990s in order to address more directly the pressing social, economic, and cultural needs of his community.
With a group of fellow artists, he organized the purchase and restoration of a block and a half of derelict properties—twenty-two shotgun houses from the 1930s—in Houston’s predominantly African American Third Ward and turned them into Project Row Houses (PRH), an unusual amalgam of arts venue and community support center. Lowe has initiated similarly arts-driven redevelopment projects in other cities, including Los Angeles, New Orleans, and North Dallas. Lowe’s pioneering “social sculptures” have inspired a generation of artists to explore more socially engaged forms of art-making in communities across the country.
Rick Lowe is an Alabama native who attended Columbus College and studied visual arts at Texas Southern University in Houston. He is currently the Breeden Scholar in Residence at Auburn University. Along with his MacArthur Genius Grant, Lowe is also the recipient of the Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change and the Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities.