ParaMuseum: Environmental Extigencies

Rice University, Houston, TX

Four b/w photos on canvas, 4’ x 8’ each.

Permanent Art Installation at Rice University, Houston, TX, in the Brochstein Pavilion. With a botanist who designed the GPS system that identifies every tree on the Rice University campus, I collected leaves from indigenous oak trees. The leaves were scanned with high resolution cameras and enlarged to human scale. The photographs hang in a glass pavilion and are visible from the park-like exterior of the building.

My first visual impression of Rice University is through the entrance lined with magnificent oak trees. The university has protected its natural landscape by taking great care to preserve the magnificent trees on its campus. In fact, the university created a tree map that identifies 4,300 trees on campus. From the beginning of this project, I conceptualized the Rice University campus as a "Tree Museum". I view our natural environment – parks and wilderness areas – as conservation institutions filled with artifacts (such as branches, leaves and pebbles) that are cared for by biologists, archeologists, botanists and environmentalists. Under the threat of development and human interference, protected landscapes have become “museums” that are recognized as scientific and artistic education centers. Many historical moments, technological stages and political agendas converge at sites that are dedicated to the significance, value and benefits of our natural environment.

With the botanist who calculated the system I collected leaves from indigenous oak trees. Each leaf was scanned on a black background with high-resolution cameras, yielding a photograph that was enlarged to 4 x 8 feet. This created an extremely detailed object, on a vertical field, of human scale, approximately 6 feet tall. The four photographs, titled paraMuseum: Environmental Exigencies, reflect my interest in examining the cultural significance of landscape sites and landscape artifacts, rural and urban.

The photographs are permanently installed in the Brockstein Pavilion, a glass building in the center of Rice University’s campus.

Charles Mary Kubricht’s New Permanent Site-Specific Installation Environmental Exigencies in the Brochstein Pavilion at Rice University by June Mattingly. Published in in 2010.