ATC Lecture — Rick Lowe, “Social and Community Engaged Work: The Genuine and the Artificial”



Rick Lowe finished the Fall 2014 season of the Art, Technology and Culture Colloquium: Art, Technology and Activism, held in conjunction with the Berkeley Center for New Media, the Arts, Research Center, and the David Brower Center. Rick offered great insight into how we define art in his talk “Social and Community Engaged Work: The Genuine and the Artificial.” This talk was co-presented by the Regents Lecture Series.

Rick Lowe is an artist and community organizer and founder of Project Rowhouses, a community-based arts and culture organization in one of Houston’s oldest African-American neighborhoods. In September, 2014, Lowe received a MacArthur Foundation “genius award” for his visionary work in purchasing and restoring twenty-two shotgun houses to create an arts venue and community support center.

Please join us as we kick of Spring 2015 with Caroline Woolard discussing “What is a Work of Art in the Age of $120,000 Degrees?”


Rick Lowe Media and Revisited

Berkeley Center for New Media, in partnership with the Berkeley Arts Research Center and the David Brower Center were proud to host the artist and community organizer Rick Lowe. Lowe gave a phenomenal presentation of Project Row Houses, his Houston housing development which combines art, affordable housing, community building, and urban planning to create a socially sustainable community.

Lowe explored the challenges of creating such a planned community, especially balancing the desire to bring art and interpersonal connection to the community with the practical needs of affordable housing and community services. Lowe’s model incorporates housing for low-income residents, commercial space for small businesses, community centers, and artist residencies and gallery space. Lowe hopes that Project Row Houses will inspire other urban renewal programs and serve as a model for how to engage a community through art without losing sight of the basic needs of its members.

See what people had to say about Rick Lowe’s presentation:

Check out photos from the lecture:


Lowe’s Project Row Houses, founded two decades ago, has created a blueprint for using urban renewal practices within an artistic context to enrich lives. Located in Houston’s Northern Third Ward, one of the city’s oldest African-American neighborhoods, Lowe’s Project Row Houses was founded with 22 houses on a block-and-a-half and today occupies six blocks that are home to 40 properties, including exhibition and residency spaces for artists, office spaces, a community gallery, a park, low-income residential and commercial spaces, and houses in which young mothers can live for a year and receive support as they work to finish school and get their bearings.

By committing to what has been called a “politics of staying,” Lowe has been able to develop Project Row Houses into a wide ranging social service center, a center for ideas, and an influential artist residency program. The organization has developed over the past twenty years to become a site of experimentation for new economic models in sustaining social and artistic communities, particularly within the community of socially-engaged art. Lowe has been honored with the Rudy Bruner Award in Urban Excellence; the AIA Keystone Award; the Heinz Award in the arts and humanities; Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Governors Award; Loeb Fellow at Harvard University; Skandalaris Award for Excellence in Art Architecture; USA Booth Fellowship; and the Creative Time Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change.

Tickets are available online and at the door. Ticketed attendees will be admitted on a first come, first served basis.

Berkeley’s Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium is an internationally recognized forum for presenting new ideas that challenge conventional wisdom about art, technology, and culture. This series, free of charge and open to the public, presents artists, writers, curators, and scholars who consider contemporary issues at the intersection of aesthetic expression, emerging technologies, and cultural history, from a critical perspective.