City Of Houston Announces New Art Installation At Central Librarys Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza

The mosaic installation is now a permanent artwork in the City of Houston’s Civic Art Collection

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Alex Barber
The mosaic panel featuring a quote from Barbara Bush rendered in her own handwriting, “I read it from cover to cover.”

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The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) announced today the completion of a new commission of mosaic artworks located in the Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza at the Jesse H. Jones Central Library.

The concept for the artwork was created and developed by native Houstonian Marsha Dorsey-Outlaw, who designed, fabricated, and installed eight mosaic panels bordering the children’s area in the plaza following its debut in September 2021. This welcoming space, designed by Lauren Griffith Associates, extends the Houston Public Library’s (HPL) mission of creating experiences beyond its physical walls and into the outdoors.

The Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza was redesigned to honor the first lady’s legacy of championing the cause of literacy and her commitment to breaking the intergenerational cycle of low literacy in America,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “It is fitting that we look to art to illuminate Mrs. Bush’s vision for literate youth in America. Ms. Dorsey-Outlaw’s work will do just that by empowering the cause for literacy while welcoming visitors to the Central Library.”

The mosaic installation, the second commission for the City from Dorsey-Outlaw, took inspiration from the imaginative experience of reading. With input from representatives from HPL, the artist incorporated quotes from many recognizable and beloved children’s books, including a quote from Barbara Bush rendered in her handwriting, “I read it from cover to cover.

For my family, books have rendered countless moments of liberation through knowledge, the refinement of skill or escaping into the fantastic. Oral traditions bind us through our dreams, humor, and curiosities, thus making up our shared humanity. This project amplifies the imagination ignited by the power of stories.” said Dorsey-Outlaw of her work. 

Marsha Dorsey-Outlaw is a mixed media visual artist whose creative practice emphasizes social practice and education. As part of the Texas Commission for the Arts Artist in Education Roster, Marsha Dorsey-Outlaw has enjoyed extended residencies at The Community Artists’ Collective and the Austin Children’s Museum. She was the first artist-in-residence and community liaison in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Education Department. Marsha is also a certified enrichment instructor for many school districts with the Harris County Department of Education and is a member of Young Audiences of Houston. She facilitates school residencies from Harris to Matagorda County.

The mosaic installation is now a permanent artwork in the City of Houston’s Civic Art Collection, whose artworks can be found in over 100 of the City of Houston’s public facilities, airports, and parks and are enjoyed by more than 64 million Houstonians and visitors each year.

August 11, 2022
Michael MK

Michael MK
Senior Editor & Writer

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