New diversity-focused art installation in Near Northside

The Leader, December 21, 2017                                                                          

An interactive civic art installation in the Near Northside community is now open to the public until January 19, 2018.

On Dec. 2, Avenue CDC joined the Near Northside community to celebrate the opening of “Scaped Senses,” an interactive civic art installation, created by artists Tami Merrick and Nicola Parente, with the help of more than 300 community volunteers. The project’s design, which is focused on embracing cultural diversity and healing community, features a peaceful meandering labyrinth with 1,700 painted PVC grass strands and a large central basket sculpture woven with 600 feet of recycled vinyl signs that were painted by students from YES Prep East End.

Approaching the installation, it is uncertain what one is viewing from a distance. The labyrinth looks like a field of painted pipes until almost on top of it. Then the mulch-covered path becomes obvious and beckons to enter. Don’t cheat and cut across! As you follow the path, the colors of the hundreds of PVC “grass strands” change to subtly calm your mood as you approach the 8-foot tall woven basket.

“The purpose of the basket is to culturally weave the community back together,” said artist Nicola Parente. “The colors that we are using are primary colors in basket weaving in both the Hispanic and African American communities. We feel that by going through the maze and by having this beautiful colorful basket, it may create some unity between the cultures.”

Parente and Merrick, both established artists in Houston, began the project in late May with community workshops at Parente’s studio in Winter Street Studios. The vinyl for the basket weave was painted by students at Yes Prep school guided by Artist Michael Healey.

There is fantastic video and photos of the seven-month-long project progress on the Facebook page “Scaped Senses.” There is a comment board behind the entrance sign, be sure to leave your comments.

The temporary installation is made possible through partnerships with Avenue, the City of Houston, Houston Arts Alliance, Fresh Arts, HUB, Legacy Community Health, and Writers in the Schools, and will be open from dawn to dusk until January 19, 2018.

Avenue’s mission is to build affordable homes and strengthen communities. The organization enhances the quality of life of working families and works to promote Houston’s future as a world-class city of healthy, vibrant and economically diverse neighborhoods. Learn more and connect with Avenue on Facebook and Twitter.

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