Art at the heart of SJ

Regis Penn ’25

Throughout the Strake Jesuit campus, art can be found in every hallway, open area, and outdoors space. This vast collection of over 800 sculptures and paintings make up the Strake Jesuit Art Museum. Yes, the campus is a certified art museum with artwork from Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, and hundreds of other local, national and world renown artists.

The Museum is made of “paintings and sculptures, which are heavily contemporary and many of them are from Houston artists,” stated Ms. Rahuba, Art Museum Director. “The goal of the museum is to enrich and educate students,” and for over 25 years now the museum has done just that.

Fr. Brian Zinnamon, former president of Strake Jesuit, founded the museum in the 1990’s. “He was a big lover, supporter, and collector of the arts ” said Ms. Rahuba. Fr. Zinnamon was principal at Dallas Jesuit before coming to Houston. There he met Frank Ribelin, who was also an art enthusiast and collector. Ms. Rahuba added that Ribelin was a firm believer in exposing students to the arts, therefore “when he [Ribelin] died some of his collection was gifted to Strake Jesuit.”

Following his contributions “many Jesuit families also started to make contributions of art work,” Ms. Rahuba said. The collection was incorporated as an art museum in 1996, and the entire campus was officially designated as a museum by the City of Houston. The unique concept of the museum is all by design. “The Idea was to have art out and available to students rather than have it isolated in a specific gallery,” Ms. Rahuba said. “It is designed so that students could have daily interaction with art.”

There is no specific theme among all the art pieces. Rather, Ms. Rahuba states, “Many are contemporary, some are southwestern and native American, others are Christian themed.” However, much of the art is from local artists.

Ultimately, the purpose of the museum is to educate. ”Our current goal is to make our database with all pieces and artists available for students and faculty to access digitally,” Ms. Rahuba said.  “The intent of the museum is to enrich, educate, and enhance students’ lives.”