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Sculpture meets Drawing at Discovery Green

Pooja Salhotra
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Michael Craig-Martin

Michael Craig-Martin (pictured) is exhibiting his work in Houston for the first time, through an exhibition at downtown’s Discovery Green park. (Photo: Pooja Salhotra)

Umbrellas, high heels, lightbulbs. These might be ordinary objects, but a new art installation at downtown’s Discovery Green park will make you think twice about them. 

Called The Shape of Things, the exhibit opened Thursday, Aug. 1 and features six sculptures, 8 to 12 feet tall, by renowned British artist Michael Craig-Martin. The monumental steel sculptures depict ordinary objects: two umbrellas, one high-heeled shoe, a lightbulb, a wheelbarrow and a gate. The two umbrellas, one yellow and one purple, are placed inside Kinder Lake, while the other four are dispersed around the perimeter of the lake.  

“What we really love about these pieces is that they are really thoughtful works of art, but they are also fun and playful,” said Discovery Green’s program director Susanne Theis. “All of the people who come to the park, whether they are children or adults, will be able to relate to them.” 

High-heeled shoe

Michael Craig-Martin’s pieces focus on everyday objects in bright colors, such as this pink high-heeled shoe. (Photo: Pooja Salhotra). 

This exhibit marks the first time that work of Michael Craig-Martin, a London-based artist, is being displayed in Houston. Discovery Green Public Arts Committee chair Judy Nyquist said she’s long admired Craig-Martin’s work and decided to invite him to Houston when she found out he was already showing a few pieces in Florida. 

“I thought, ‘oh my gosh this is our opportunity, they are already on this side of the pond’,” Nyquist said. “[The sculptures] are big and expensive to transport so I thought let’s try to get them.” 

Craig-Martin’s work can be identified by his rigorously precise lines in bright, vivid colors. Unlike most sculptures, which are three-dimensional, Craig-Martin’s are flat, appearing more like a sculpture of a two-dimensional drawing than a sculpture of a three-dimensional object. 

“The idea is that they are drawings floating in space,” Craig-Martin said. “And because they are supported below the ground, they appear to have no support at all.” 


The Shape of Things exhibit at Discovery Green features six sculptures, including this gate. (Photo: Pooja Salhotra) 

Craig-Martin said he has been drawing ordinary objects for the past 35 years, and only some of those are turned into sculptures. He specifically chooses objects that are “so recognizable that you take them for granted.” 

He added that, in a time when people are often focused on division, his art seeks to unite. 

“These images are images or objects which everyone in the world shares,” Craig-Martin said. “They go beyond nationality, class, race – they have nothing to do with any of those divisions. These are truly images for everybody. And to me it seems that [Discovery Green] is a perfect place. It’s clearly a people’s park. What a perfect place for them to be.”

The Shape of Things will be on view during park hours through Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019. The park is open daily from 6 a.m.-11 p.m. Admission to the park is free.  

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