deep states

Rice Moody's Center examines the state of America's democracy

Rice Moody's Center examines the state of America's democracy

Rice Moody Center Arts States of Democracy
Rice's Moody Center examines democracy in this new exhibition.  Photo courtesy Moody Center for the Arts

From spring into summer, Houston’s visual arts community has been the source of much needed optimistic, creating spirit in these trying times.

Now, the latest art good news comes from the Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University with the announcement that will their galleries open again in September, they’ll inaugurate the space with a new exhibition just in time for the election, “States of Mind: Art and American Democracy.”

The exhibition will feature a mix of emerging artists making their Texas debut, like Janiva Ellis and Camilo Godoy and renowned contemporary artists such as Cady Noland and Hank Willis Thomas. Some of the current issues addressed in “States of Mind” include immigration, gun control, the police, social unrest, and the very nature of democracy.

Designed by architect and curator Aviva Rubin, the very organization of the exhibition will also resonate on democratic themes as it plays with the glass walls and open structure of the Moody’s spaces.

“As the political process unfolds, the exhibition will underscore the fundamental role art plays in fostering a dynamic dialogue in the community, especially during this divided time,” explained Alison Weaver, the Moody Center’s Suzanne Deal Booth executive director, in a statement on the exhibition.

“States of Mind” will likely provoke much thought and discussion with provocative works including Rodney McMillian’s Untitled (The Supreme Court Painting) (2004–06) created in reaction to the Bush v. Gore court decision after the 2000 election.

Yael Bartana’s video The Undertaker (2019) was filmed in Philadelphia for Bartana’s performance Bury our weapons, not our bodies! For Teresa Margolles’s El Brillo series three hand-embroidered black-velvet garments take on new meaning when viewers know the decorative glass shards woven into the pieces come from shootings in the artist’s hometown of Culiacán at the Texas-Mexico border.

Artist Aram Han Sifuentes will create a site-specific interactive voting booth installation, titled Official Unofficial Voting Station: Voting for All Who Legally Can’t for the 2020 Presidential Election.

Going beyond the Moody walls, Jenny Holzer’s LED messages displaying box truck, IT IS GUNS (2020) will hit the road to drive around Houston, and Catherine Opie’s Political Collages, a series of animated images on monitors will be positioned on campus and throughout the city.

In keeping with their interdisciplinary mission, the Moody Center has become one of the most innovative art spaces when it comes to programming in conjunction with a large exhibition.

For “States of Mind” look for an opening reception outdoors featuring Houston Poet Laureate Leslie Contreras Schwartz and a then a virtual art talk with Catherine Opie in October. Cinephiles can also look forward to movie nights on the Moody lawn. The election-themed selections to be projected on the Moody’s west wall include Election starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Redford’s 1972 turn as The Candidate.


"States of Mind: Art and American Democracy" runs September 18 through December 19.