HONORING THE PEOPLE WHO PROTECT + SERVE
Houston Arts Alliance
“Strength and Honor.”
“You Can’t Spill Milk in One Place.”
“It’s We, Not They.”
These are only a few of the more than 30 inspirational messages placed throughout the Houston Police Department (HPD) South Gessner Division station. For this project, Houston artist Tara Conley handpicked from a collection more than 15 years in the making. Her work with these collected phrases has included everything from embroidered aprons to jewelry to carpets, with phrases like “Take Care of Yourself” and “Things Will Always Be OK.” Now the selected handwritten messages have been cast in bronze and installed throughout the police station. Each phrase is tied to or representative of, in one way or another, the HPD philosophy: “order through law, justice through mercy.” Conley adds “Wise, reflective and witty, each phrase casts a shadow on the wall like the echo of a voice once heard, and collectively they establish a work environment that is both introspective and challenging.”
While these works dot the interior of the station, two larger, more publicly visible sculptural structures greet visitors on the building exterior and lobby. Utilizing stainless steel pipe, rod and colored glass, Conley seeks to illustrate the relationship between police officers and the community they serve. Her oversized honeycomb structures–one situated at the entrance of the South Gessner Division police station and a second featuring colored glass in the lobby–evoke the co-dependency of this sometimes complex relationship.
Conley’s proposal was selected for this commission through a rigorous, peer panel review process. Funding for this civic art project was derived through the 1.75% civic art allocation from the eligible Capital Improvement Program (CIP)—in this case, the construction of the new South Gessner Division police station.