Rick Lowe

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Rick Lowe
ATC 14 Rick Lowe.jpg
EducationColumbus State University (then Columbus College);
Texas Southern University
Known forSocial Practice Art
AwardsHeinz Award in the Arts and Humanities (2002)
MacArthur fellowship

Rick Lowe (born 1961) is a Houston-based artist and community organizer, whose Project Row Houses is considered an important example of social-practice art. In 2014, he was among the 21 people awarded a MacArthur "genius" fellowship.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Lowe was born in Alabama. He was trained as a landscape painter, attending Columbus College in Georgia, before moving to Houston in 1985. There, he created politically charged installations and studied with muralist and painter John Biggers at Texas Southern University.[2][3]

  • 1979-1982: Columbus State University, Columbus, GA.
  • 1990-1992: Texas Southern University, Houston, TX.
  • 2001-2002: Loeb Fellow, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA.
  • 2013-2015: Mel King Community Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.
  • 2015: Honorary Doctorate, Otis College of Art, Los Angeles, CA.
  • 2015: Honorary Doctorate Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD.


Project Row Houses[edit]

Project Row Houses' mission is " to be the catalyst for transforming community through the celebration of art and African-American history and culture."[4] Employing the terminology of the German artist Joseph Beuys, Lowe describes the project as "social sculpture."[5][6] He also draws inspiration from the work of artist John T. Biggers (whose own paintings depicted Houston's shotgun homes), working from his Five Pillars: Art and Creativity; Education; Social Safety Nets; Architecture; and Sustainability.[7][8]

PRH dates from 1993, when Lowe and fellow founding six artists James Bettison, Bert Long, Jesse Lott, Floyd Newsum, Bert Samples, and George Smith, alongside community organizers, arranged for the "purchase and restoration of a block and a half of derelict properties — 22 shotgun houses from the 1930s — in Houston's predominantly African American Third Ward."[9][10] With funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation,[11] these houses were then converted to arts spaces, revitalizing the neighborhood and providing community development for the blighted neighborhood. More than 20 years later, according to an ArtNews article, the project has grown to 49 buildings spread out over 10 blocks and has a support program for young mothers.[12]

This unusual amalgam of arts venue and community support center has served as a model for Lowe to expand into other neighborhoods in need of revitalization. The artist has initiated similar projects in the Watts Housing Project in Los Angeles, in post-Katrina New Orleans, and in a North Dallas neighborhood with a dense immigrant population.[13]

In 1997 Project Row Houses won the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence, a national design award that seeks to identify and honor projects that address social and economic concerns of urban design.[14]

Other projects[edit]

In 1999, Lowe served as a selection committee member for the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence.[15] He received the 8th Annual Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities in 2002.[16]

Lowe developed Trans.lation: Vickery Meadow for the Nasher Sculpture Center's 10th anniversary exhibition "Nasher XChange" and Victoria Square Project in Athens, Greece as a part of documenta 14 in 2017.

Lowe served as a visiting artist at UC Berkeley Arts Research Center, a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University, Haas Center Distinguish Visitor at Stanford University, a Mel King Community Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Breeden Scholar at Auburn University, and a Neubauer Collegium Visiting Fellow at the University of Chicago. In 2016 he joined the faculty at the University of Houston's Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts. in 2014.[17][18] He also sits on the board of Mark Bradford’s Art + Practice Foundation.[19]

Art market[edit]

Lowe has been represented by Gagosian Gallery since 2021.[20]

Honors and awards[edit]

  • 1997: Silver Medal by the Rudy Bruner Awards in Urban Excellence (jointly with Project Row Houses)
  • 2000: American Institute of Architecture Keystone Award
  • 2001-2002: Loeb Fellow at Harvard University (September 2001-June 2002)
  • 2002: Theresa Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities
  • 2005: Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Governors Award
  • 2005-2006: Osher Fellow at the Exploratorium in San Francisco
  • 2006: Brandywine Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2007: Innovator Fellow with the Japan Society
  • 2009: Skandalaris Award for Art and Architecture
  • 2009: US. Artists Booth Fellowship
  • 2010: Creative Time Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change
  • 2011: Visual arts “master artist” at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Syrmna Beach, Florida.
  • 2013: President Barack Obama appointed Rick to the National Council on the Arts[21]
  • 2014: MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship [22]
  • 2014: Mel Kind Fellow at MIT
  • 2015: Auburn University Breedan Scholar
  • 2015: University of Houston’s President’s Medallion Award
  • 2015: Honorary doctorate degrees from the Maryland Institute College of Art and Otis College of Art
  • 2016: Served as the Stanford University Haas Center Distinguish Visitor
  • 2016: University of Houston, associate professor of art


External video
video icon Public Artist Rick Lowe, 2014 MacArthur Fellow, MacArthur Foundation[23]
  1. ^ "The New York Times". MacArthur Awards Go to 21 Diverse Fellows. The New York Times. September 17, 2014. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
  2. ^ Kriston Capps (Sep 19, 2014). "How a Houston Housing Project Earned a MacArthur Grant". Atlantic City Labs. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  3. ^ Tom Finkelpearl, "Interview: Rick Lowe on Designing Project Row Houses," in Dialogues in Public Art, ed. Tom Finkelpearl (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000), 243.
  4. ^ "Project Row Houses". Project Row Houses. Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  5. ^ Sports, Bad at. "Interview with Rick Lowe | Art Practical". Art Practical. Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  6. ^ "About PRH". Project Row Houses. Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  7. ^ Sports, Bad at. "Interview with Rick Lowe | Art Practical". Art Practical. Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  8. ^ "About PRH". Project Row Houses. Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  9. ^ "MacArthur Foundation website". MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2014 Rick Lowe. MacArthur Foundation. September 17, 2014. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
  10. ^ "Mission + History". Project Row Houses Mission + History. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  11. ^ Nikil Saval (December 3, 2015), Three Artists Who Think Outside the Box T.
  12. ^ Miranda, Carolina A. (April 7, 2014). "How the Art of Social Practice Is Changing the World, One Row House at a Time". ArtNews. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
  13. ^ "Rick Lowe — MacArthur Foundation". www.macfound.org. Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  14. ^ "Call for Entries: $50,000 Award for Urban Excellence".
  15. ^ "Rick Lowe". Rudy Bruner Award. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  16. ^ "Heinz Awards - Rick Lowe".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ Sports, Bad at. "Interview with Rick Lowe | Art Practical". Art Practical. Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  18. ^ "MacArthur Foundation website". MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2014 Rick Lowe. MacArthur Foundation. September 17, 2014. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
  19. ^ Nikil Saval (December 3, 2015), Three Artists Who Think Outside the Box T.
  20. ^ Maximilìano Durón (September 20, 2021), Gagosian Now Represents Rick Lowe, Whose Art Has Its Roots in Local Communities ARTnews.
  21. ^ White House Archives https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2013/04/11/president-obama-announces-more-key-administration-posts. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. ^ "Rick Lowe Wins $625,000 MacArthur Genius Award". 17 September 2014.
  23. ^ "Rick Lowe". MacArthur Fellows. MacArthur Foundation. September 17, 2014. Retrieved December 13, 2014.