Project Row Houses 2011 Summer Studios

The Third Ward Community takes center stage with Project Row Houses' (PRH) summer student installation, and last night, the studio held a special slide show presentation of the seven artists and their work inside and outside of the Summer Studios. Art Attack stopped over to check out the scene and was drawn to the individualistic nature of each of the studio spaces.

We began with University of Houston student Brittney Connelly's installation piece, CasteAways: A Resuscitation of Third Ward. Cluttered about the small studio is broken-down furniture and home wares covered in a papier-mâché-type wrapping. The surroundings felt claustrophobic and hollow at the same time. Described as confronting "issues of neighborhood supplantation" and commercialization of American culture, the stark whiteness highlights the items in their truest form -- just objects.

Lynissa Hayes, a recent graduate of Houston Baptist University, transformed her studio into an homage to African-American cosmetology. Shifting Beauty in the Black Culture is parceled throughout the studio. In one corner, a shrine of hair product, curlers and other accoutrements emphasizes the female obsession with vanity and the ideal beauty. On the far wall hangs a giant mosaic mirror of a woman's face, her curly hair made from some type of plastic material. As you stare in awe at the impressive size and construction of the piece, you see yourself in its reflection.

Third Ward Sno-Cones is a combination of performance art and photography. Creator Matthew Gorgol of UH spent six weeks handing out free sno-cones to the Third Ward community. The result was an initiation of conversation between artist and local residents, and a different style of art. The studio features stunning, color-saturated photographs of the sno-cone exchange and made you hungry for your own shaved ice.

If you are looking for a homemade sign, stop into the deLuxe studio, a community sign-making workshop by Rice University artist Logan Sebastian Beck. The idea behind the workspace is to bring attention to the conversational nature of signs and by collaborating on the making of them, people are forced to converse as well. Signs are so often overlooked as art in and of themselves, and this conceptual piece brings some well deserved attention.

While some of the work is stronger than others, each artist successfully took their foundation, the Third Ward, in distinctly different directions; we highly recommend seeing this living art in action.

The studios are open for viewing Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. until September 11. They are free to the public.

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