Moody Project Wall: Angela Chen, Practices of Attention

Collaborative Artmaking Project

January 08 - April 30, 2024
Moody Center for the Arts | Flex Studio
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“Living in a time of planetary catastrophe thus begins with a practice at once humble and difficult: noticing the worlds around us.” 

—Anna Tsing, Heather Swanson, Elaine Gan, and Nils Bubandt, Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet 

For this iteration of the Moody Project Wall series, Taiwanese American artist Angela Chen will lead a collaborative, socially engaged art project titled Practices of Attention that progressively takes shape over the course of the 2024 spring semester resulting in a collection of creative responses to ecological caretaking. The visual anchor for this cumulative display will be Chen’s large-scale photo-textile collage of Buffalo Bayou printed on recycled cotton muslin dyed with local flora.

With this work as an example for other creative responses, Chen will guide an interdisciplinary class of Rice students through an exploration of how close-looking and thoughtful observation can open avenues of relating to the world that are rooted in care and mutual sustainability. While considering complex environmental issues and the effects of climate change, students will meet with Houston-area scientists, artists, activists, water keepers, and waste managers to understand how various “practitioners of attention” see and make sense of their surroundings. The students’ responses will be presented as part of the Moody Project Wall installation, together with Chen’s photo-textile collage. Collectively, the assembly of student and artist responses, and the process by which they were made, demonstrate the power of our attention to change the world around us. 

Thank you to the following Rice students who participated as part of the class led by Chen and contributed original artwork: Cuiyuanxiu Chen ’24, Kevin Chen ’24, Naomi Doron ’25, saba Feleke ’25, Nevaeh Hicks ’26, Cal Mascardo ’26, Izzy Ramnath ’26.


About the artist: Angela Chen 陳勇氣 (b. 1990, Los Angeles, CA) is a photo-based artist, writer, and educator. Her recent work uses assemblage as a metaphor for diasporic identity and ecological entanglement, incorporating a range of media—photographic prints and transparencies, photo transfers, textiles, plastic, plants, and everyday detritus. 

Chen earned her BA in television, film, and media studies from California State University, Los Angeles (2009), and she received her MFA in photography from the Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT (2020), where she was an Alice Kimball English Traveling Fellow and an Art and Social Justice grantee. Her photographs have appeared in The Margins, The Paris Review, and Urban Resources Initiative’s Urban Issues. She is currently a lecturer in the Department of Art at Rice University and a founding member of Throughline Collective in Houston, TX. 


About the Series: Launched in 2021 with the goal of fostering cross-campus and community engagement with the arts, the Moody Project Wall is a collaborative effort between a Houston-based artist and Rice University students. The Moody Project Wall series is made possible by the Moody Center for the Arts Founders Circle.