The Seven Wonders

 

The Seven Wonders, by Mel Chin, near the Wortham Center (Creative Commons license attribution: photo courtesy Ed Schipul)

The Seven Wonders, by Mel Chin, near the Wortham Center (Creative Commons license attribution: photo courtesy Ed Schipul)

One of the most striking examples of Houston public art was created by 1,050 children, three artists, an urban designer, and an architectural firm in 1998. The Seven Wonders are seven 70-foot towers located along Buffalo Bayou in Sesquicentennial Park next to the Wortham Center. The columns highlight Houston’s history of agriculture, energy, manufacturing, medicine, philanthropy, technology, and transportation. The artwork is also known as Pillars of the Community.

Artist Mel Chin asked schoolchildren born in 1986, the 150th anniversary of the founding of Houston, to submit illustrations of the seven historical themes. Chin collaborated with Guy Hagstette, the architect and urban designer who helped develop Sesquicentennial Park in the mid-1990s, and Ray and Hollington Architects. Chin selected 150 drawings for each pillar. Along with artists Rachael Splinter and Helen Nagge, Chin made computer images of the drawings and laser cut them into stainless steel plates. The plates were then mounted on 30-foot high brick bases.

Mel Chin is a native Houstonian born in 1951. He grew up in the Fifth Ward, which is northeast of downtown. He is the son of Chinese immigrants. Chin graduated from Bellaire High School where he drew cartoons for the daily student paper. He has also written essays and has contributed to various books about art, which are listed on his Mel Chin web site.. Chin envisions himself as a catalyst for change, and thinks it is even better if he involves others in the process.

“I’m always in a state of becoming an artist.” ~ Mel Chin*

 

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