Rick Lowe—public-art pioneer, 2002 Loeb Fellow, 2014 MacArthur Fellow, and founder of Houston-based initiative Project Row Houses—addressed the Class of 2015 and their families at the GSD's Class Day on Wednesday, May 27, encouraging graduates to build on his model of collaborative design and to rethink traditional definitions and standards of “value.”
Trained as a painter, Lowe refocused his practice in the early 1990s toward the needs facing his community, the Third Ward of Houston, at the time an eroding, long-neglected neighborhood. Founding Project Row Houses in 1993, Lowe collaborated with other local artists to purchase and restore a series of abandoned “shotgun” houses and transformed them into a public art campus that has evolved into a visionary initiative, engaging the intersections of art, community, and social service.
Throughout his Class Day talk, Lowe deconstructed the concept of “value,” addressing questions over who gets to define or assess the value of another person, piece of art, or community. He discussed the particular importance of challenging and advancing traditional value structures in the arts and design professions. Harvard magazine offers a full recap. You can also view video of Lowe's talk.
Photo: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation/CC-BY