Artist Rana Begum Blurs Boundaries Between Sculpture, Painting, and Architecture

John Hill
2. November 2022
Photo: Sean Fleming

Although I never visited it in person, the Rice University Art Gallery attracted my attention for many years, from the installation of Yasuaki Onishi's topographical reverse of volume in 2012 to the more scholarly Learning from Houston project by Atelier Bow-Wow and Rice University professor Jesús Vassallo a few years later. The gallery closed in 2017, and with it ended the consistent display of site-specific artworks (a couple other examples are here and here). A similar feeling returns with photographs revealing two site-specific artworks by Rana Begum, who was born in Bangladesh and lives in London: No.1187 Mesh and No. 1193 Mesh, both commissioned by Rice's Moody Center for the Arts. Take a look at the pair of artworks in the photographs below.

No.1187 Mesh is installed in front of the Moody Center for the Arts, designed by California architect Michael Maltzan in 2017. (Photo: Sean Fleming)
Begum, known for focusing on the interplay between light, color, and form, uses "industrial materials, repetitive geometric patterns, and vibrant colors [to] brilliantly activate the surrounding architecture," per a statement from the Moody Center for the Arts. (Photo: Sean Fleming)
The modular panels with pink, orange, and yellow coatings were partially assembled inside the arts center before being moved to the front of the building. (Photo courtesy of Moody Center for the Arts)
The artworks mark the first time Begum has used mesh panels for an outdoor location. (An earlier indoor installation can be seen on the artist's Instagram feed.) (Photo: Sean Fleming)
The layering of the colorfully coated mesh grids are mesmerizing when seen up close. (Photo: Sean Fleming)
Begum's pieces are part of Urban Impressions: Experiencing the Global Contemporary Metropolis, a group show at the Moody Center for the Arts organized by its curator, Frauke V. Josenhans. (Photo: Sean Fleming)
The second piece, No. 1193 Mesh, is located next to Rice School of Architecture's Anderson Hall, designed by Staub and Rather in 1947 and expanded in 1981 by James Stirling and Michael Wilford. (Photo: Sean Fleming)
Located remotely from each other on Rice University's campus, the installations are meant to reflect "the macro implications" of Houston's "sprawling development and ceaseless construction." (Photo: Sean Fleming)

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