Outdoor artwork by Prince Thomas permanently exhibited in Houston

Published 11:50 am Thursday, March 3, 2016

BEAUMONT – The city of Houston recently installed a billboard-sized work of art by Lamar University faculty member Prince Thomas. Located on Jackson Streetnear Minute Maid Park, “Family Portraits” is a permanent installation commissioned by the Houston Art Alliance.

“I was thrilled to be selected to have my work displayed for the public,” said Thomas, an associate professor in the Department of Art. “As an artist, that is our primary goal: to get our work to the public. The location is just perfect for high pedestrian traffic, especially during the Major League Baseball season.”

Thomas created “Family Portraits” to reveal different bits of information from various viewing distances. From far away, viewers see a picture of the family from the television show “Father Knows Best,” which represents the traditional American family of the past. As the viewer walks closer to the artwork, the picture, which is composed of large half-tone dots, “disintegrates” into basic circles.

A secondary component of the work is a row of cones that is visible when a viewer gets closer to the installation. Thomas arranged the cones to resemble people from multiple races and ethnicities.

“I chose a theme of family, both past and present, as an underlying conceptual frame for the piece,” said Thomas. The arrangement of the cones represents a new family portrait that reflects our contemporary community, with its beautiful mix of cultures and races coming together to form our modern society. This also ties to me personally, because my wife and I are of different races.”

One of the highlights of having “Family Portraits” selected for public installation was that Thomas got to share the experience with his mother.

“The biggest thrill for me was that my mother and I saw the artwork installed for the first time together,” said Thomas. “It made us both smile. And watching my mom’s face when she saw it was just so very touching to my soul.”

A member of the Department of Art at LU since 1998, Thomas is also the recipient of the prestigious 2015 ArtPrize time-based category. His entry, “That Was Then,” layered audio reporting of the first hours of Operation Desert Storm on CNN over footage of a 4th of Julyfireworks display to jarring effect. ArtPrize is an international art competition held in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

For more information about the Department of Art at Lamar University, call 409-880-8141 or visit lamar.edu/art.