South Gessner Division Police Station
Photo courtesy of the artist
Tara Conley, We Are in the Business of Changing the World, SS, 2015. Stainless steel, 18 ft. tall. South Gessner Division Police Station, 8605 Westplace Drive.
Tara Conley, We Are in the Business of Changing the World, SG, 2015. Steel and colored glass. South Gessner Division Police Station, 8605 Westplace Drive.
Tara Conley, You Have the Right to Remain Silent, 2015. Cast bronze. South Gessner Division Police Station, 8605 Westplace Drive.
Funding Source: Percent for Art – City of Houston General Services Department and Houston Police Department
Commissioned by Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) in partnership with the City of Houston, Tara Conley created a permanent installation of 35 sculptures at the South Gessner Division Police Station.
“In learning about the patience, tolerance and vigilance police officers must exercise to do their job well, I was inspired to create sculptures that would transform their workspace in unexpected ways and encourage them in their day-to-day tasks,” explains artist Tara Conley.
The towering 18-foot stainless steel outdoor sculpture at the front entrance of the station is entitled We Are in the Business of Changing the World, SS. Its abstract, honeycomb design illustrates the relationship between police officers and the Houston community. Inside, the public lobby holds the second major work, We Are in the Business of Changing the World, SG, also of a honeycomb design, but composed of steel and colored glass, referencing the diverse communities within District 17.
In addition, You Have the Right to Remain Silent is a series of 33 sculptural, hand-written inspirational phrases cast in bronze that are installed in throughout the station. These phrases range from “Strength and Honor,” to “It’s We, Not They”, and “You Can’t Spill Milk in One Place,” but all are tied to HPD’s core philosophy: “Order through law; justice through mercy.”
“For over 15 years I’ve collected phrases I’ve heard people say aloud,” explains the artist. “I chose phrases from my collection that will shed light on the role of police within the community. Wise, reflective and witty, each phrase casts a shadow on the wall like the echo of a voice once heard and collectively they establish a work environment that is both introspective and challenging.”
Conley’s proposal was selected for this commission through a rigorous, peer panel review process. Funding for this civic art project was derived through the 1.75% civic art allocation from the eligible Capital Improvement Program (CIP)—in this case, the construction of the new South Gessner Division police station.
ABOUT TARA CONLEY
Originally from New York and a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology’s School for American Crafts in Metalsmithing and Jewelry, Tara Conley lives and works in Houston. She works with fiber, steel, bronze and fiberglass, often mixing materials and processes in surprising ways. She has an extraordinary knack for creating organic, yet original, shapes from man-made materials, adding a delightful sense of humor and wonder to the mix. Conley has produced a collection of cast bronze phrases in curvilinear script, which hang a few inches from the wall and cast a shadow, like an echo of the voice once heard.
In 2013, Conley and artist Joe Barrington completed the largest public art commission from Texas Tech University for the Rawls College of Business Administration. The sculptural environment incorporated overarching lit stainless steel pipes to emulate the stock market, four of Conley’s phrases etched in limestone, commodities icons in bronze and Barrington’s bull and bear sculptures.
My Life as a Doll, an 800 square-foot installation, was a successful combination of Conley’s sculptures and collected phrases perfectly placed in a large-scale book, large enough to walk through, and exhibited at Diverse Works Art Space in Houston with collaborator, Tria Wood. Exploring ideas on gender and identity the installation was transformed and shown again in Conley’s first museum exhibition, January 30 –April 12, 2015 at the Houston Museum of African American Culture. The show was accompanied by the documentary, Telling the Truth in an Imaginary Place by filmmaker Sharon Ferranti.
Conley’s outdoor sculpture, Bunny was part of the True South exhibition on Heights Blvd. in 2015. Conley is included in Texas Artists Today by Catherine Anspon and Touching Fiber Arts by Carol Ikard and Jacque Smith for the Texas Museum of Fiber Arts. For more information about artist Tara Conley, visit www.taraconleyart.com.