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News Release


Richard Zagrzecki
Communications Coordinator

Cemo Hall Artwork Based on Karankawa Legend

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Houston, Jan. 8, 2014 — Anyone who passes by Cemo Hall can't help but notice the new artwork that graces the east side of the building.

The yet-to-be-named piece made of stainless steel and aluminum formed in the shape of oyster shells was installed over four days the week before Thanksgiving by a team of three people. It was created by Brian Tolle, a New York-based artist.

The unique creation is a passive water feature that was created specifically to interact with rainfall, said Michael Guidry, curator of the University of Houston System Public Art Collection, which now includes about 520 diverse pieces.

The inspiration behind the artwork comes from a Karankawa legend that the first member of the Native American tribe that once inhabited the Gulf Coast of Texas was the child of the sun god and moon goddess whose cradle was an oyster shell that rocked gently on a cloud. One day, the cradle was knocked from the sky and fell into the Gulf of Mexico, and that the tears of the goddess account for the abundant rainfall along the coast.

Click here to view a video of the artwork during a rainfall.


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The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the nation's best colleges for undergraduate education. UH serves the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. Located in the nation's fourth-largest city, UH serves nearly 41,000 students in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region in the country.