Place-Based Practice - University of Houston
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Third Ward Initiative

Combining service, innovation, and responsive collaborations, the Arts component of the University of Houston’s Third Ward Initiative is a manifestation of the McGovern College of the Arts’ investment in its neighboring community. CASE’s approach to this work is not about a single project but about the collective impact the Initiative has on connecting our students and the city to the histories of the neighborhood and its residents' creative power. Through partnerships that increase access to arts events and amplify existing cultural assets, the Third Ward Initiative invests in our city's cultural sustainability.
2020 Fellows


The Kathrine G. McGovern-Project Row Houses Fellowship is a multi-year program that builds on the history and leadership of Project Row Houses (PRH) in social practice and community-engaged art projects. Founded as a partnership between CASE and PRH, this fellowship program brings artists, cultural practitioners, urban planners, educators, and policymakers to engage with the work of PRH and the greater Houston community. The KGMCA-PRH Fellowship educates and empowers the next generation of leaders in socially engaged art and activism, disseminates a known successful practice, and offers a model for university-community partnerships. MEET THE FELLOWS
Cultural Loop Map

Third Ward Cultural Loop

The core artistic curricular component for Third Ward Initiative initiative has centered on School of Art Professor Rick Lowe, and his Community-Engaged Art class. For the past two-years, he has engaged students in an action-learning project placing students in direct contact with residents of the neighborhood to make evident these histories. To imagine a more substantive connection between the University and the Third Ward, Lowe and the students conceived of The Cultural Loop, a social sculpture model that activates historic sites in the community–as defined by residents and students. Through creative responses aligned with the work and values of community partners like Project Row Houses, The Cultural Loop initiative seeks to co-create opportunities for naming injustices and proposing transformative and creative actions.

Suarez's 2019 Installation

Summer Studios Partnership

Project Row Houses' Summer Studios Program provides an opportunity for local college students to work on the PRH site and transform the art houses into temporary studios for community engagement. The students spend six weeks learning with the KGMCA-PRH Fellows to expand their emerging artistic practices into a social context that extends outside of the studio to ignite dialogues with students, Third Ward residents, and University communities in a four-week exhibition at PRH. CASE provides an additional stipend to KGMCA students identified to participate in this program. The program was funded in 2018 through CITE.
Jason Moran - Meet Me At McGregor

Performing the Neighborhood

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts and Project Row Houses launched a five-year partnership in 2016 to commission major performance-based works by contemporary artists presented in and around the PRH site in the Third Ward. Artists draw upon the neighborhood as well as the often-complicated intersection between campus and community. Both organizations collaborated to select one artist per year to present their projects during the annual CounterCurrent Festival produced by the Mitchell Center for the Arts. Previous artists have included Jason Moran, Kevin Beasley, Okwui Okpowasili, and many more.
TSU Tour

New Initiatives

Students will continue to forge connections with the artists and arts organizations of Third Ward through curriculum-based research and innovative co-curricular pilot programs. CASE and KGMCA continue to build partnerships and collaborations that use art to generate opportunities for naming injustices, amplifying residents’ voices, and developing transformative projects to advance sound public policy.  In so doing, we more equitably serve the shared future of this historically African American neighborhood.