Photo by Jeff Fitlow

After months of anticipation, the $30 million Moody Center for the Arts opened on Friday night. The space, an expansive 50,000 square feet that manages to avoid feeling barren, was filled with community members and students eager to see what the center has to offer.

The first exhibit I wandered through was Thomas Struth’s “Nature & Politics” photography exhibit. As the title suggests, massive prints of surgical rooms and industrial scaffolding were juxtaposed with images of waves crashing on a rocky shore and succulents growing out of cracked stucco. The prints encouraged me to contemplate how man-made technologies and nature might have more in common than one might think.

Thomas Struth’s“Nature & Politics.” Photo by Jeff Fitlow

After enjoying Diana Thater’s “The Starry Messenger” and Olafur Eliasson’s “Green light – An artistic workshop” installations, I was excited to take part in teamLab’s interactive installation “Flowers & People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together – A Whole Year per Hour.” Projected flowers sprouted, grew and dispersed around visitors, transforming the room into an ever-changing rainbow of color. Gently wiping the velvety walls and disrupting the light sensors would cause the flower petals to fall off and float away. When I chose to stand in an area that was unpopulated by blossoms, the flowers began growing around me. The experience was playful, charming and almost magical.

Olafur Eliasson’s “Green light – An artistic workshop” installation. Photo by Jeff Fitlow

Once I had explored the interior spaces of the Moody Center, I walked outside and listened to The Tontons, a Houston group whose music draws from R&B-rock and pop-folk — but even that description doesn’t adequately describe their sound. The crowd swayed as lead singer Asli Omar’s sweet yet powerful voice and the intricate instrumentals created a unique, rich sound.

With such strong installations and musical guests, it’s easy to lose sight of the Moody Center’s real magic: it promises to be a space to not just display, but also generate. Students will attend courses integrating technology, art and the environment; in essence, they will learn but also take part in the art community’s history of creation.

The Tontons perform. Photo by Jeff Fitlow

It goes without saying that the Moody Center was worth the wait.

For those who wish to experience the space, the Moody Center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. For more information on the opening weekend and upcoming exhibits, visit the Moody Center website or refer to this comprehensive Rice News article.

— Natalie Danckers ’17

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