Houston

John Ahearn/Rigoberto Torres

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres are remarkable artists, not only for their empathic identification with, and celebration of, their ghetto subjects, but for their innovative use of body casts and their unique mode of exhibition. Their works are meant for the ghetto and not for gallery walls; they are, in effect, relief murals that function as guardians, projecting over and protecting the lifespace of the people they represent. Indeed, seen in situ, they have a shrinelike effect. They make subtle use of the architecture, which they adorn, adding artistic life to the grim surroundings, by pointing to the vibrant life within the buildings. The reliefs constitute a kind of homage to the people, made by artists who live among them and share their lifestyle.

Whereas George Segal, the great master of body-cast sculpture, generally presents his figures without color—bleached ghostly white to suggest

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