UH gives big hand to
Sculpture: Russian artist's work will
contain more than 2,000 bricks
By Andrew Fritsch
Daily Cougar Staff
Tanya Preminger doesn't look like the type
of person who enjoys handling stones and concrete for 12 hours a day, but
with trowel and freshly shaped brick in hand, this Russian-born sculptor
who resides in Israel is obviously in her element.
Preminger, 57, has been sculpting for more
than 30 years. The retired art instructor and mother of four travels the
world participating in art symposiums and
competitions and creating commissioned
In association with the UH Sculpture Department
and the Buffalo Bayou Art Park artist-in-residence program, Preminger is
constructing a statue resembling
the traditional Middle Eastern greeting
<I>hamsa<P>, which looks like a hand. Preminger is the fourth artist
resident in the six-year-old program.
"I was looking on the Internet, and I saw
Buffalo Bayou Art Park wanted artists, and they chose me," Preminger said.
The piece, titled <I>Hi<P>, will
be moved to Lyons Avenue in Houston's Fifth Ward today.
"I chose to make this work as a greeting
to American people," Preminger said. "The number of God is five (hence
five fingers), and the work is a blessing for
But there is also a bigger meaning to the
"<I>Hi<P> is made from bricks because
they are individual entities," Preminger said. "But the individual pieces
join together to make a bigger structure, a
hand, a house an empire.
"That is where America gets its strength,
from the celebration of the individual in the whole," Preminger said.
Once the work is moved and completed, shrubs
or plants -- Preminger hasn't decided yet -- will be added to the fingertips.
The vegetation will represent the
creative force that encourages growth,
The sculpture, which is approximately 10
feet tall, will be completed on the site because it cannot be moved at
its full height of 11 1/2 feet, said Paul
Kettleston, a professor in the sculpture
Once completed, the sculpture will weigh
approximately 12 tons (26,400 pounds) and contain 2,000 bricks. The structure
also contains a solid concrete
base and steel and foam reinforcements
that function as an internal foundation, Preminger said.
The Buffalo Bayou Art Park and the sculpture
department are connected through Kettleston and others who were involved
with UH's School of Fine Arts in
the 1980s, said Kevin Jefferies, executive
director of the BBAP.
"The Art Park is located on Allen Parkway
near the Sabine Street bridge, and it facilitates the placement of public
art," Jefferies said.
"This is the first time we have had anyone
outside the country participate in the program, so this is an unique opportunity
for us and the students who get to
work with her," he said.
The sculpture will make its home on Lyons
Avenue because the BBAP wanted a permanent installation -- all works in
the park are temporary -- and the Fifth
Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation
had available land, Jefferies said. Jefferies informed a friend at the
CRC about the project, and the parties
agreed on placement, he said.
The Brown Foundation, Acme Brick and the
UH Art Department donated to the sculpture effort.
"All art comes from life," Preminger said.
With concrete and bricks, Preminger attempts to promote that statement.
Preminger will give a presentation about
her work at 6 p.m. Monday at the Sculpture Building, located at Wheeler
Street and Calhoun Street.