Steel Photography and Architecture Exhibition Opens in Houston

PartILLATION: Visions in Steel, a traveling art exhibition celebrating steel in the built environment, debuted Wednesday, October 12, at the Architecture Center Houston (ArCH). The exhibition curates photography and other work of visual artists from across the country to introduce visitors to steelworkers and their trade through portraiture, interviews, sound, and video.

Its name, PartILLATION, is a created word that borrows from the idea of it being a mix of art and installation. Owing to the latter, the centerpiece of PartILLATION is a tunnel that uses video-projected images and soundscapes to immerse visitors in a steel fabrication facility and to learn from the expertise of architects through a series of interview vignettes explaining the strong ties between design and steel.

Outside of the tunnel, visitors can acquaint themselves with the people behind steel by browsing a gallery of welders and steel tradespeople portraits and quotes. Additionally, a wall featuring state-of-the-art steel projects from recent years showcases the ingenuity of steel architecture in the built environment.

“[This exhibition] accomplishes a number of things we are continually trying to do at ArCH,” said Rusty Bienvenue, Architecture Center Houston's Executive Director, in a press release. “It shows architecture and the built environment as the confluence of art and science and as a monumental representation of culture. It also seeks to recognize the craftspeople who, while so important to a project, are so often overlooked.”

Alex Morales, Associate AIA, AISC's senior structural steel specialist for the Houston market, is the curator for PartILLATION. In creating the exhibition, Morales prioritized the themes of evolution, humanism, innovation, history, and legacy as it relates to steel and the people who create with steel.

“I was privileged to travel across the country to capture the amazing stories of craftspeople and designers who share a passion for steel architecture,” Morales said. “This exhibit is not only a reminder of the legacy and innovation of steel in our built environment, but also a stage that shines a well-deserved light on the role of our steel craftspeople in the design equation. Design is about the human experience, and I am proud to share this exhibit with designers across the country.”

Sponsored by AISC and the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, PartILLATION is on view at ArCH through December 9. Several public programs accompany the exhibition, including welding courses and an architectural workshop for kids. You can find information on vistiting, including gallery hours, at AIA Houston’s exhibition website. Stay tuned for details about the debut of PartILLATION in other cities around the country.