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"Urban Impressions" Installation View, photo by Sean Fleming.
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Tiffany Chung, "City of Future Promises," and Rick Lowe, "Project Row Houses: Hindsight," installation view, "Urban Impressions," photo by Sean Fleming.
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"Urban Impressions" Installation View, photo by Sean Fleming.
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"Urban Impressions" Installation View, photo by Sean Fleming.

Urban Impressions: Experiencing the Global Contemporary Metropolis

Fall 2022 Exhibition

September 16 - December 17, 2022
Moody Center for the Arts
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Emblematic of modern life, the metropolis has long been a topic of fascination in the visual arts, literature, music, and beyond.  Cities with a high population density have seen a dramatic rise fueled by economic development and improved social structures over the past seven decades. The world’s population living in urban areas has doubled from 25 percent in 1950 to about 50 percent in 2020. With the need to accommodate expanding populations, cities are facing complex questions, including social and urban planning, public health, mass transportation and congestion, zoning, and gentrification. Among other current issues are socio-economic inequity, threats to biodiversity through construction and pollution, poor air and water quality, violence, and crime. The metropolis is a place of opposites, sometimes extreme: economic opportunities and social mobility exist next to poverty and exclusion. All of these elements affect our perceptions of the city, some more consciously than others.

This exhibition asks the question, what informs and shapes our experience of the city in the 21st century? The works on view take into consideration not only visual components but also sensory perceptions and collective memories of urban life that impact our minds and bodies and structure our lives in unexpected ways. Urban Impressions, with its decentralized and multisensorial presentation, illustrates how the metropolis is a space in flux that is made of tangible and intangible elements that impact our individual perception and highlights how artists help us to untangle the complexities or transcend the realities of urban life.

The artists presented in the exhibition include Rana Begum, Kahlil Irving, Julie Mehretu, Sohei Nishino, Emeka Ogboh, Robin Rhode, Seher Shah, Liu Wei, and Michael Wolf, as well as Houston-based artists, such as Charis Ammon, Tiffany Chung, Mary Flanagan, and Rick Lowe, and each contributes to an urgent and global dialogue on the overarching aspects of city life. Select artworks in the exhibition reference Houston itself, specifically its structure as a decentered, sprawling metropolitan area.

Anchored in the Moody galleries, the exhibition expands outwards to include site-specific visual and performative interventions situated across Rice’s campus, creating dispersed points of connection between the visitor, art, nature, and the built environment.

The exhibition is organized by Frauke V. Josenhans, Curator, and is made possible by the Moody Center for the Arts Founders Circle, the Elizabeth Lee Moody Excellence Fund for the Arts, and the Texas Commission on the Arts.