The Creators Project: 22 Houses Preserve Black History and Culture in Houston

Full Article by Antwaun Sargent


In the early 90s, a group of high school students visited Rick Lowe’s artist studio in Houston’s Third Ward neighborhood. A student asked how Lowe could use his art to help foster change in the community. Lowe didn’t have an answer, but in 1993, gathered a group of local artists to see how they could use art to revitalize the Third Ward. Inspired by artist Joseph Beuys’ idea of a “social sculpture,” Lowe and the group of artists bought 22 dilapidated row houses that line a street in downtown Houston. The art-based project became known as the nonprofit, Project Row Houses.

23 years later, Project Row Houses has grown into an artist community comprised of houses that bring museum-quality work to the historically black community. The project also offers multiple artist residency programs, temporary shelter for single mothers, and after school and public art programs. In 2003, in partnership with Rice University, Project Row Houses launched Row House CDC, to build 57 permanent affordable housing units for families living in the northern section of the Third Ward community.