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City of Houston Announces New Art Installation at Central Library’s Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza

HPL director Dr. Rhea Lawson, artist Marsha Dorsey-Outlaw, and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner pose in front of the Dorsey-Outlaw mosaic. Photo by Alex Barbier.

May 11, 2022 — The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) today announced the completion of a new commission for mosaic artwork located in the Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza at the Jesse H. Jones Central Library.

The concept for the artwork was created and developed by Houston native Marsha Dorsey-Outlaw, who designed, fabricated and installed eight mosaic panels lining the children’s area in the plaza following its September 2021 debut. This welcoming space, designed by Lauren Griffith Associates, extends the Houston Public Library’s (HPL) mission to create experiences beyond its physical walls and outdoors.

“The Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza has been redesigned to honor the first lady’s legacy of championing the cause of literacy and her commitment to breaking the intergenerational cycle of low literacy in America,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. . “It’s fitting that we look to art to illuminate Mrs. Bush’s vision for literate youth in America. Ms. Dorsey-Outlaw will do just that by strengthening the cause of literacy while welcoming visitors to the Central Library.

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The mosaic panel with a quote from Barbara Bush rendered in her own handwriting, “I read it cover to cover.” Photo by Alex Barbier.

The mosaic installation, the second commission for the town of Dorsey-Outlaw, was inspired by the imaginative experience of reading. With input from HPL representatives, the artist incorporated quotes from many recognizable and beloved children’s books, including a quote from Barbara Bush rendered in her handwriting, “I read it cover to cover. ‘other.”

“For my family, books have rendered countless moments of liberation through knowledge, refinement of know-how or escape into fantasy. Oral traditions bind us through our dreams, our humor and our curiosities, thus constituting our common humanity. This project amplifies the imagination ignited by the power of stories. said Dorsey-Outlaw of his work.

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Marsha Dorsey-Outlaw and her mosaic work. Photo by Alex Barbier.

Marsha Dorsey-Outlaw is a mixed media visual artist whose creative practice emphasizes social practice and education. As part of the Texas Commission for the Arts Artist in Education Roster, Marsha Dorsey-Outlaw has enjoyed extended residencies at the Community Artists’ Collective and the Austin Children’s Museum. She was the first Artist-in-Residence and Community Liaison Officer at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Education Department. Marsha is also a Certified Enrichment Instructor for numerous school districts with the Harris County Department of Education and is a member of Young Audiences of Houston. She facilitates school residences from Harris to Matagorda County.

The mosaic installation is now a permanent work of art in the City of Houston Civic Art Collection, whose works can be found at more than 100 public facilities, airports and city parks in Houston and are enjoyed by more than 64 million Houstonians and visitors each year. .

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The new Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza with mosaics by Marsha Dorsey-Outlaw. Photo by Alex Barbier.

The Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza project was administered by the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) Civic Art + Design team in partnership with MOCA to enhance Houston’s visual landscape through the City of Houston Civic Art Program.

A selection committee made up of representatives from city departments, the community and the art world was assembled by the Houston Arts Alliance to review the concepts recommended for this project. Panelists included Lauren Griffith of Lauren Griffith Associates, mosaic artist Dixie Friend Gay, Algenita Davis, Downtown District Government and Community Affairs Officers, Jaime Herrero, attorney and executive director of Urban Partnerships Community Development, and Houston Public Library Representative Raiset Ruben Valiente. .

find more information about the artist and the commissioned work here.

About the town hall of cultural affairs town hall
The City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs guides the city’s cultural investments with policies and initiatives that expand access to arts and cultural programs, attract visitors, and leverage private investment. Learn more at www.houstontx.gov/culturalaffairs and follow us on Facebook and Instagram @HoustonMOCA.