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"Tolerance" Sculptures in Houston by Jaume Plensa

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

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.

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.

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

"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.

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

One thought fills an immensity.

— Jaume Plensa

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

Sources

  • Jaume Plensa | Official Website
    Official website of the artist Jaume Plensa (b. 1955, Barcelona, Spain). All images © Plensa Studio Barcelona. All rights reserved.
  • The Wages of a Hate Crime
    David Ritcheson's wounds finally seemed to be healing. After the Mexican-American teen was beaten nearly to death and sexually assaulted in 2006 by two young men yelling "white power" slogans, he

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.

© 2020 Peggy Woods

Comments

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 10, 2020:

Hi Devika,

Yes, these eye-catching sculptures do send an important message for those who learn the meaning behind them. Thanks for your interest and comment.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 10, 2020:

Beautiful sculptures. I think these sculptures have a message. You live in a unique and interesting place. Every place has a special feature about it and so does yours.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 29, 2020:

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.

C E Clark from North Texas on March 28, 2020:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 21, 2020:

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 from USA on March 21, 2020:

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 on February 22, 2020:

I can imagine.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 22, 2020:

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 on February 21, 2020:

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

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 20, 2020:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 20, 2020:

Hi Ruby,

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

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on February 19, 2020:

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.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on February 19, 2020:

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

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 19, 2020:

Hi Liz,

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

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 19, 2020:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 19, 2020:

Hi Pamela,

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

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 19, 2020:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 19, 2020:

Hi Bushra,

So glad that you liked these sculptures.

Liz Westwood from UK on February 19, 2020:

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 Elizabeth Morgan from Pennsylvania on February 19, 2020:

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.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 19, 2020:

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

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 19, 2020:

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

Anya Ali from Rabwah, Pakistan on February 18, 2020:

They're certainly beautiful!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 18, 2020:

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.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on February 18, 2020:

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