Arts / Museums

Rice University’s Moody Center Gives an International Art Force His Due — And a Striking New Mural Sets the Tone

Odili Donald Odita Takes Centerstage at Annual Arts Dinner

BY // 03.30.23
photography Daniel Ortiz

The Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University used its signature art-centric evening, A Dinner for the Moody, to honor international talent Odili Donald OditaOdita is a Nigerian-born and Philadelphia-based painter who has exhibited extensively across the United States, including at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. 

At Rice, Odita recently completed a mural for the Shepherd School of Music’s Alice Pratt Brown Hall titled Meeting Place / Painting with Changing Parts. The mural combines aspects of Western painting with traditional African elements and uses vibrant colors and geometric forms to transform the central hallway and lounge of the hall. The title references both the Turrell Skyspace, which famously stands on the Rice campus, and the 1971 Philip Glass album Music with Changing Parts.

Honoree Odili Donald Odita, Moody executive director Alison Weaver at Moody Center for the Arts' A Dinner for the MoodyHonoree Odili Donald Odita, Moody executive director Alison Weaver at Moody Center for the Arts' A Dinner for the Moody
Honoree Odili Donald Odita, Moody executive director Alison Weaver at Moody Center for the Arts’ A Dinner for the Moody

Dinner began with a cocktail hour and art-making activity at Moody Makerspace led by Olga Tarasova, a Houston-based fiber artist and textile designer. Attendees created their own wearable accessories out of felt and tulle, inspired by the Moody Center’s current exhibition titled “Narrative Threads: Fiber Art Today.” The exhibit features 22 artists. Works by three of those artists — Ana María Hernando, Nnenna Okore and Christina Forrer — could be seen from the dinner room.

The 140 art supporters then made their way to the central gallery, taking their seats at elegant tables with unique tulle centerpieces by featured exhibiting artist Ana María Hernando.

Moody executive director Alison Weaver delivered remarks, thanking everyone for supporting the center, followed by Rice president Reggie DesRoches, who served as one of the night’s four co-chairs, along with his wife Paula DesRoches and trustee emeritus Robert Clarke and his wife Kathleen.

Dinner was then served, catered by City Kitchen, which provided an epicurean three course seated meal. Odita thanked the Moody for the honor and spoke powerfully about the importance of public art. A string quartet wrapped the evening, performing an original arrangement from Shepherd School student composer Jaylin Vinson inspired by Odita’s mural.

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A string quartet performed an original arrangement inspired by Odita's new mural at Moody Center for the Arts' A Dinner for the Moody.
A string quartet performed an original arrangement inspired by Odita’s new mural at Moody Center for the Arts’ A Dinner for the Moody.

PC Seen: Leslie and Brad Bucher, Anita and Gerald Smith, Cynthia and Bucky Allshouse, Linda Anderson, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Mary and Marcel Barone, Laura and Vineet Bhatia, U.S. Congresswoman Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, Karen and Larry George, Barbara Gibbs, Becky O’Connor, Sam Lasseter and Dillon Kyle, collector Jereann Chaney, Bettie Cartwright, gallerist Allison Ayers, and art advisors Melissa Grobmyer and Lea Weingarten. 

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