"Tolerance" Sculptures in Houston by Jaume Plensa

Updated on March 6, 2020
Peggy W profile image

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

"Tolerance" Sculptures on Harmony Walk by Jaume Plensa
"Tolerance" Sculptures on Harmony Walk by Jaume Plensa | Source

Several years ago in Houston, Texas, we started noticing some interesting-looking sculptures located along Buffalo Bayou. They were adding to the public art displays in the city, and as we were driving by, I wanted to be able to photograph them and get a better look at them. I had no idea at the time that there was a meaningful message connected to these items of eye-catching beauty.

These metal sculptures made of aluminum appear to glint in the sunlight. They are skeletal in their design so that one can look through them to the natural scenery in which they reside. They have lights shining up inside them at night.

The location where these Tolerance Sculptures are on view at 2773 Allen Pkwy., Houston, Texas 77019.

"Tolerance" sculptures by Jaume Plensa glistening in the sunlight.
"Tolerance" sculptures by Jaume Plensa glistening in the sunlight. | Source

Viewing the "Tolerance" Sculptures

One day my husband and I got to walk among these large imposing figures. They consist of seven aluminum-clad characters representing the seven continents. Each sculpture is ten feet in height and is mounted on rocks imported from Spain. Lettering from nine different alphabets comprises these beauties.

See the dedication plaque below.

Dedication plaque is mounted on one of those large rocks from Spain.
Dedication plaque is mounted on one of those large rocks from Spain. | Source

Who Was David Ritcheson?

If you looked closely at the dedication plaque above, you would have noticed the name David Ritcheson. These sculptures are dedicated to him as well as all victims of hate crimes.

David was a young teenager of Mexican-American heritage who suffered a horrific hate crime. I remember the heinous details of that crime well. Several young men went to jail, and David endured more thanx thirty surgeries to repair the terrible bodily damage done to him.

From his wheelchair, he did muster up the courage to testify before Congress concerning the hopeful passage of a Hate Crimes Prevention Act. A few months later, he jumped from a cruise ship and committed suicide. He was only 18 years old.

Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.

— John F. Kennedy
"Tolerance" Sculptures
"Tolerance" Sculptures | Source

"Tolerance" is the name of these sculptures situated along Houston's Harmony Walk. They were dedicated on February 15, 2011, and have the following inscribed on a plaque:

Unity in Diversity

Reflecting the Pluralism & Harmony of Mankind

Seven Figures Representing the Seven Continents

Each Created from Nine Alphabets

The video below shows the sculptures in all kinds of light, including illuminated at night.

Artist Jaume Plensa

Jaume Plensa is the world-renowned artist who created them. He was born in Barcelona, Spain, and is a well-known sculptor, teacher, and lecturer who has won many national and international awards.

His public sculptures grace many cities all across the globe. We are fortunate to have these seven fascinating and inspirational sculptures here in Houston.

I am from the Mediterranean area, I have to feel everything. I am a physical person, but I guess that things that you cannot touch and cannot see are also touchable and visible—light, poetry, music.

— Jaume Plensa
Closeup of the lettering used in the "Tolerance" sculptures.
Closeup of the lettering used in the "Tolerance" sculptures. | Source

When we dream, anything is possible.

— Jaume Plensa

A Better Place

I like the idea of tolerance. The world, in my opinion, could use more of it. Perhaps we could learn to be kinder and more understanding of our fellow inhabitants of this small planet, which we all share.

These sculptures, once we understand their intended meaning, stand in testament to the hopes of a brighter future for all of us. You can see the dedication ceremony for the sculptures in the video below, along with the artist's statement.

Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.

— Dalai Lama
Click thumbnail to view full-size
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"Tolerance" Sculptures by Jaume Plensa
"Tolerance" Sculptures by Jaume Plensa | Source
"Tolerance" Sculptures by Jaume Plensa
"Tolerance" Sculptures by Jaume Plensa | Source
"Tolerance" Sculptures by Jaume Plensa
"Tolerance" Sculptures by Jaume Plensa | Source
"Tolerance" Sculptures by Jaume Plensa
"Tolerance" Sculptures by Jaume Plensa | Source
"Tolerance" Sculptures by Jaume Plensa
"Tolerance" Sculptures by Jaume Plensa | Source
"Tolerance" Sculptures by Jaume Plensa
"Tolerance" Sculptures by Jaume Plensa | Source
"Tolerance" Sculptures by Jaume Plensa
"Tolerance" Sculptures by Jaume Plensa | Source
"Tolerance" Sculptures by Jaume Plensa
"Tolerance" Sculptures by Jaume Plensa | Source
"Tolerance" Sculptures by Jaume Plensa
"Tolerance" Sculptures by Jaume Plensa | Source

One thought fills an immensity.

— Jaume Plensa

What do you think of these thought-provoking sculptures?

See results

As long as I have any choice in the matter, I shall live only in a country where civil liberty, tolerance and equality of all citizens before the law prevail.

— Albert Einstein

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2020 Peggy Woods

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      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        11 days ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi C E Clark,

        You are so right in that we have much more in common than our differences when it comes down to the most basic of human needs. I wish everyone would concentrate on that. Wishing you good health and safety in the days to come.

      • Au fait profile image

        C E Clark 

        12 days ago from North Texas

        Agree that we need more empathy, more tolerance, and more compassion for others. Everyone has burdens to bear that we often know nothing about. Seems people are afraid of things that are different and unfamiliar. One reason why diversity in our schools is so important -- so that children and young adults can learn about people who are different in their religions, lifestyles, and more, and most importantly learn about everyone's commonalities. We usually have far more in common than any differences we may have, and we need to focus on those commonalities.

        Enjoyed this article very much. Posting it to FB & AH.

        Do hope you and your husband are taking care to be safe.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        2 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi FlourishAnyway,

        I agree that we all need positive messages in our life, however it is delivered. These sculptures do that in a unique way.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        2 weeks ago from USA

        These states are beautiful and the dedication that inspires them is so sad. We need more positive statement art pieces like this in our public spaces.

      • Robert Sacchi profile image

        Robert Sacchi 

        6 weeks ago

        I can imagine.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        6 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Robert,

        These sculptures are amazing to look at when passing by in a car, and equally amazing up close. The details of the lettering, of course, is more clearly seen up close. The story behind them carries great meaning.

      • Robert Sacchi profile image

        Robert Sacchi 

        6 weeks ago

        Thank you for the pictures and the story behind the sculptures. They must be really haunting up close.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        7 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Linda,

        Yes, the design of these sculptures is intriguing and unique. They stand for the ideal of tolerance towards all human beings no matter what their skin color, creed, gender, and the like, happens to be.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        7 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Ruby,

        It is my pleasure to be able to show them to you in this way.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        7 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        The design of the sculptures is interesting. I love their name. Tolerance is a very important quality. I'm glad that David Ritcheson is remembered via the sculptures.

      • always exploring profile image

        Ruby Jean Richert 

        7 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

        These sculptures are magnificent. I would love to see them in person. Your detailed report is interesting and well written.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        7 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Liz,

        I agree. These sculptures are not only eye-catching, but are important for the message that they carry.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        7 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Maren Elizabeth Morgan,

        It is true. The news media more often features the bad and ugly. Good people still exist in this world of ours. These sculptures bear witness to that fact.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        7 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Pamela,

        Thanks for your comment Pamela. I agree that these sculptures are unique and meaningful.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        7 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Bill,

        Yes, our city certainly does embrace the arts! The message that these Tolerance sculptures are intended to impart is powerful. Many people just driving by them might not realize their significance.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        7 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Bushra,

        So glad that you liked these sculptures.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        7 weeks ago from UK

        These are so much more than sculptures alone. Thank you for highlighting them and explaining the sad reason behind them. They carry a very valuable message.

      • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

        Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

        7 weeks ago from Pennsylvania

        Peggy, thank you SO much for sharing this with us. I am teary-eyed. In these days of major ugliness in the usa, it's fantastic to find evidence of the best of humanity.

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        7 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

        These sculptures are very unique and beautiful. I also love the messages they impart. This is an excellent article, Peggy.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        I love that the city leaders have embraced the Arts so enthusiastically. You live in a very progressive city in that regard.

      • Bushra Iqbal profile image

        Aishatu Ali 

        7 weeks ago from Rabwah, Pakistan

        They're certainly beautiful!

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        7 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello Umesh Chandra Bhatt,

        Yes, the message that they carry is even more important than the artistry of the sculptures, although that is also great.

      • bhattuc profile image

        Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

        7 weeks ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

        This is a very informative piece of writing. These sculptures are really great especially the message they are imparting.

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