Platform: Rana Begum
Temporary Public Art | Multi-site Installation
No.1187 Mesh and No. 1193 Mesh
Powder-coated mesh panels
Rana Begum’s work focuses on the interplay between light, color, and form, blurring the boundaries between sculpture, painting, and architecture. Working with industrial materials such as stainless steel, aluminum, copper, brass, glass, and wood, she creates ordered shapes by using repetitive geometric patterns found in urban architecture and Islamic art. Her minimalist language is enhanced by her use of vibrant, saturated colors. Light is essential to her process, as it activates the physical work and is both reflected and absorbed on the painted surface, thereby creating changing sensations.
Begum conceived her ambitious site-specific project after accepting an invitation to exhibit in the Moody’s fall exhibition Urban Impressions. The commissioned works, No.1187 Mesh and No. 1193 Mesh are located in front of the Moody’s entrance and next to the Rice School of Architecture, Anderson Hall, respectively. The multi-location of this project enables Begum to visibly and conceptually tie the exhibition’s focus on the built environment to the campus’s architecture. In so doing, the artist created an innovative exploration of Rice’s engineered and natural surroundings, which underpins the Moody’s Platform series.
Made of locally sourced, powder-coated, industrial steel mesh units, these works emerge from combining and stacking modular units into two large assemblies. With vivid colors and unexpected forms, No.1187 Mesh and No. 1193 Mesh activate the adjacent buildings and surrounding environs. As a multi-module installation, these works also reflect the city of Houston as a sprawling metropolis, with multiple central districts and an urban population distributed over a large area. Begum's work allows for physical interaction, as visitors can walk through and around the towering structure, prompting questions about our place within the built environment. The bold colors—orange, pink, and yellow—reflect the Texan sunlight and transform the stacked geometric units into a dazzling structure that offers an all-encompassing experience for the viewer.
Additionally, under the supervision of Bryan Miller, Facilities and Exhibition Coordinator, students of the School of Architecture helped build the work at Anderson Hall the week of September 13, 2022. Those students included Emily Wilcox, Prea Davis, Peyton Chiang, Théodore Vadot, Tiffany Wu, and Roxanna Mandez.
The Platform series is made possible by the Moody Center for the Arts Founders Circle. The installation at Anderson Hall is supported by the Rice School of Architecture.
Rana Begum, No.1187 Mesh and No. 1193 Mesh is organized by Frauke V. Josenhans, Curator, Moody Center for the Arts.
The Moody’s groundbreaking Platform series brings temporary, site-specific projects to the Rice University campus. Launched in 2017, Platform invites contemporary artists to respond to artworks, architectural structures, and research at Rice University.
About the artist: Rana Begum (b. 1977, Sylhet, Bangladesh) earned a BA from the Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, in 1999, and received an MFA in Painting from the Slade School of Art, London, in 2002. The artist has been the subject of various solo exhibitions, notably at the Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery, London; the Wanås Konst Skulpture Park, Knislinge, Sweden; Tate St Ives, Cornwall, UK; Sainsbury Centre, Norwich, UK; and other institutions. Her work has been included in several exhibitions and biennials around the world, such as the Creative Folkestone Triennial, Kent, UK; the Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh; Kettles Yard, Cambridge, UK; Gemeente Museum, Den Haar, Netherlands; and the 11the Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, South Korea. Begum received the Jack Goldhill Award for Sculpture (2012), the Abraaj Group Art Prize (2017), and she was elected a Royal Academician in 2019. Begum lives and works in London, United Kingdom.