Project Row Houses Celebrates 25th Anniversary with Release of Commemorative Book

ABOVE: The Project Row Houses site encompasses five city blocks and houses 39 structures that serve as home base to a variety of community enriching initiatives, art programs, and neighborhood development activities

Book chronicles the nonprofit’s rich history through series of essays, photographs, interviews

Project Row Houses (PRH), the nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering people and enriching communities through engagement, art and direct action, will release its commemorative 5th Anniversary book, Collective Creative Actions: Project Row Houses at 25.

The book, edited by PRH Curator and Programs Director Ryan N. Dennis, offers a comprehensive look at how the nonprofit has used art, historic preservation and community enrichment to create a renowned social sculpture in Houston’s Historic Third Ward.

“Collective Creative Actions: Project Row Houses at 25 is a testament to the success of the collaborative efforts of the many individuals that have paved the way for PRH to become an international model for artists and communities to address their needs for historic preservation and community enrichment,” said Dennis. “As we approached this milestone anniversary, we found that now was the time for us to share, in our own words, the history behind our transformation. This book is an ode to the many individuals, businesses, organizations, institutions and funders who have supported our core belief of empowering people and enriching communities through engagement, art and direct action.”

Collective Creative Actions: Project Row Houses at 25 captures PRH’s legacy as the catalyst for the transformation of community through the celebration of art and African American history and culture. The book tells the captivating history of PRH’s core focus on art, community enrichment and neighborhood development through a series of essays, including:

  • “Artists in Action” by Ryan N. Dennis, PRH Curator and Programs Director
  • “Bound Up: Project Row Houses’ Covert Curriculum” by Sandra Jackson-Dumont, Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chairman of Education at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • “A Soft Place to Stand: Escaping the Interlocking Systems of Race, Class, and Gender” by Assata-Nicole Richards, PhD, Founding Director of the Sankofa Research Institute (SRI) and Young Mothers Residential Program alumna
  • “The Collaboration of Rice Building Workshop and Project Row Houses” by Danny Samuels and Nonya Grenader, founders of the Rice Building Workshop (BRW) program
  • “Neighborhood Development and Art-Based Community Making” by George Lipsitz, Professor of Black Studies and Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara

The book features “25 Actions,” which highlights pivotal moments in the nonprofit’s history. Also included is “Doing What Is Necessary and Needs to Be Done: A Conversation,” a dialogue from 2011 between six of the founding artists of PRH – Bert Long Jr. (1940-2013), Jesse Lott, Rick Lowe, Floyd Newsum, Bert Samples, and George Smith – where they powerfully recall the context in which PRH was formed.

“Over the course of 25 years, PRH has cemented its place at the forefront of social practice, challenging the ways artists express themselves and exhibit their work, while showing the world that art can be a driving force in how a marginalized community rebuilds itself after long-term disinvestment,” said PRH Executive Director Eureka Gilkey. “We are incredibly excited to present Collective Creative Actions: Project Row Houses at 25. This publication is a culmination of our decades-long work to foster a positive creative environment and do it in a way that enriches lives and honors African American history and culture. We hope that this book serves as a foundation for codifying our model as we look to launch the PRH Institute in the coming years.”

The release of Collective Creative Actions: Project Row Houses at 25 comes at a historic time for PRH as they celebrate their 25th Anniversary. After hosting a series of events in honor of this occasion, including their trip to Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture with Third Ward youth, the Social Practice.Social Justice Symposium, and the unveiling of Round 48: Beyond Social Practice, the book is the culmination of the milestone anniversary celebration.

The book will be available for purchase beginning Friday, November 2 for $29.99 at Project Row Houses (2521 Holman St.). The book is available from Duke University Press.

ABOUT PROJECT ROW HOUSES (PRH)

PRH is a community platform that enriches lives through art with an emphasis on cultural identity and its impact on the urban landscape. It engages neighbors, artists, and enterprises in collective creative action to help materialize sustainable opportunities in marginalized communities. PRH occupies a significant footprint in Houston’s Historic Third Ward, one of the city’s oldest African American neighborhoods. The site encompasses five city blocks and houses 39 structures that serve as home base to a variety of community enriching initiatives, art programs, and neighborhood development activities. PRH programs touch the lives of under resourced neighbors, young single mothers with the ambition of a better life for themselves and their children, small enterprises with the drive to take their businesses to the next level, and artists interested in using their talents to understand and enrich the lives of others. Although PRH’s African American roots are planted deeply in Third Ward, the work of PRH extends far beyond the borders of a neighborhood in transition. The PRH model for art and social engagement applies not only to Houston, but also to diverse communities around the world.