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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Fine Arts

Interactive art at MFAH encourages exploration

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is displaying the final work of the renowned artist Jesus Rafael Soto in a piece that breaks down the space barrier between art and the viewer.

Houston’s Museum District is a high-traffic area for tourists and residents alike, and the MFAH stands in the middle of it all. The museum continuously brings in exciting exhibits, from legendary historic works to new innovative artists, in addition to its impressive collection on permanent display. Soto’s piece, Houston Penetrable, is a work commissioned by the MFAH and one of Soto’s last pieces before his death in 2005. The exhibition debuted May 8 and will run through Sept. 1.

A defining characteristic of this work is its immense size, stretching from the ceiling to a floor that is easily 25 feet below. 24,000 polyvinyl plastic tubes hang in the space the viewer is intended to walk through. Each tube is hand painted with a vibrant, almost neon-yellow color on certain sections of the tubes, and collectively they create a playful orb in the sky that floats above the heads of the immersed viewers.

Longtime Houstonian and frequenter of the MFAH Justin Blaine was incredibly impressed with the Penetrable.

“The coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life, times one thousand. It was so different because I could touch it and interact with it; unlike most of the art here I can be a part of it instead of simply look (at it).”

This speaks strongly to Soto’s style of drawing the viewer into his works, insisting that immersion was the key element to his pieces.

The Houston Penetrable is a unique Soto work, as it is the only piece he ever created to be on permanent display, and was meant to be displayed indoors. It is not only the final piece of his series but also the last piece he worked on. His legacy of encouraging the viewer to explore a piece not only with their eyes but their entire body lives on forever in the art he created.

The MFAH offers free general admission every Thursday, so there are plenty of opportunities for Cougars to explore the Soto exhibit for themselves this summer.

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