Students arriving to the University of Houston will note a drastically changed campus. In addition to the new garages and residence halls, both first-time and returning Coogs will observe the latest sculpture in the university’s acclaimed Public Art Collection.
“Houston Radio Radar Reflectors” is a colorful screening wall connected to the new Cougar Place residence hall (located at Wheeler Avenue and Cullen Boulevard). The recently installed piece is the handiwork of artist Nathan Carter.
The piece includes six swirling aluminum sculptures located outside of the residence hall's northern window and next to its outdoor patio. Each piece includes multicolored tiles in various shapes (triangles, circles, ovals, half-circles) and sizes. It is the first public artwork created by Carter.
In creating each component of the sculpture, Carter said that he took into consideration its resiliency – how it would withstand outdoor conditions such as wind and rain. At the same time, he envisioned a work that would be welcoming to Cougar Place residents and the UH community.
“My idea is that the sculptures would be interactive,” Carter said. “Students can use them to hang their backpacks or rest their cups of coffee. I also wanted to create something that was inviting for students. So, I selected colors that were playful and a feast for the eyes.”
Carter’s interests in old-fashioned, handmade electronic devices inspired the title “Houston Radio Radar Reflectors”. The title and design complements some of Carter’s recent works that utilize shapes that can perhaps be used to pick up radio signals.
While this is Carter’s first outdoor public installation, he has shown works in galleries across the country and internationally. His recent exhibitions include “Slayer Metallica” at Esther Schipper gallery in Berlin, “Pocket Shrapnel Set-Ups Veronica Vex and Brooklyn Street Treasures” at Casey Kaplan gallery in New York. , and “The Flying Brixton Bangarang and Radio Vibration Vex-Venture” in Museo de Arte Raul Anguiana in Guadalajara, Mexico.
“I am over the moon at seeing this project at the university,” he said. “It’s taken me a while to create a public work like this. I am really excited to share this with students and the rest of the University community.”
“Houston Radio Radar Reflectors” joins more than 400 works that comprise the UH System Public Art Collection. The University was one of the first state institutions to allot one percent of its facilities’ construction budgets toward public art works. The System Wide Art Acquisition Committee assists in selecting works for UH System universities. Michael Guidry is the collection’s curator.