Eminent Domain

From around the globe, Rice Gallery selects approximately 5 artists per year to develop temporary, site-specific installations for its gallery in Houston, Texas. In a departure from the norm, the gallery ventured beyond the art world in commissioning Matthew White and Frank Webb for this installation. As interior designers, the duo is known for their creative use of antique engravings in their furniture line, White Webb’s Intaglio. Intrigued by the wit and fantasy of their furniture collection, Rice Gallery proposed that the team create an entire environment in this mode.

In their installation, Eminent Domain, White and Webb use the same technique, but inject a new take on scale and perspective. Here, a human-sized domicile is surrounded by a towering Technicolor forest: Louis XV meets Munchkinland on steroids. By juxtaposing gargantuan garden creatures with a fragile, colorless folly, White and Webb rib humankind’s efforts to control their environments, ultimately begging the question—between man and nature, who really has eminent domain?

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