Memorial Public Art Call

St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church NASA Diversity Public Artwork

Call Summary

St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church seeks artist proposals for the commissioning of an outdoor, public memorial celebrating African-American contributions to the United States space program. The memorial installation will be permanently located on the church grounds in Nassau Bay, Texas. Submissions are due no later than August 1, 2022 at 6:00 pm central time.  Artists can apply individually or as a team.  Proposals will be evaluated by the church aesthetics committee through two stages of the selection process. The winning artist/team will receive a total project budget up to $100,000.

Artwork Goals

Design and construction of an interactive memorial celebrating diversity achievement in the space program.  Charlie Bolden, the first African-American head of NASA and one of the first black astronauts in outer space, was a long-time and active parishioner at St. Thomas. Using this connection as a touchstone, the memorial should highlight the under-recognized and untold history of African American and minority participation in NASA, both in space and on the ground. It should reflect the mission of the Episcopal church of inclusivity and diversity. It must be inviting to public interaction and offer a contemplative space for moving forward.  In keeping with other artwork at St. Thomas, it is desired that the imagery of the work is both specific and expansively abstract. It should include both specific visual references to the generative theme of African-American contributions to NASA.  And it should also speak more largely to the church principles of inclusion as expressed in the parish slogan “We can do more together”.

Additionally, the following values should be considered and integrated as much as possible:

Placemaking – art that generates a sense of place and gathering, where people can put themselves into the art.

Accessibility – art that is more than just visual, and that can be experienced by an audience of varied abilities

Interaction – art that is immersive and encourages the viewer to touch, move around, move through or otherwise engage with the piece.

This project is funded by the John and Joseph Talbot Fund for Racial Reconciliation sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Texas Racial Justice Initiative.  This initiative is a missionary vision that aims to repair and commence racial healing through funding scholarships and projects that amplify reconciliation and imagine a different trajectory for the future.

Background Information on St. Thomas

St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church welcomes all to join us as we worship, learn, and serve in Christ to glorify God. Planning for the establishment of St. Thomas began in 1964.  In the fifty-eight years since then the church has grown in size, facilities, and outreach.  Located just a few miles from the Johnson Space Center, today it is home to approximately 400 parish families, a thriving church school of 50 families, and approximately 85 boy and girl scouts.  The parish values service to its community, diversity of opinion, acceptance, knowledge and learning. 

Under the leadership of Rector Mike Stone, the parish has also established a practice of supporting the arts. The church provides space for local artists to show their work, brings traveling exhibitions to our community, and provides free access to the public.  St Thomas values arts’ ability to cultivate wonder, awe, beauty, perspective, creativity, critique, and commentary, all of which we believe to stem from the image and likeness of God.

Budget Information

Total compensation for the design that is selected is up to $100,000. This amount is inclusive of all costs associated with the planning, design, fabrication, delivery/transportation and installation of the memorial artwork.  This includes any travel expenses, engineering or permitting fees, site preparation costs, insurance, lighting and electrical, and any other expenses related to the commission of the art.

Site Location

The memorial will be located on the grounds of St. Thomas church, located at the intersection of Upper Bay Road and San Sebastian Lane in Nassau Bay, Texas.  There are two open, grassy areas on the St. Sebastian side of the property close to the street that are available for placement of the work.  Artists may propose to use either one or both areas.  Refer to Supplemental Materials section below for site maps.

Site considerations include:

Artwork may access electricity by running underground from the church building but may require cutting paved areas.

Artwork should limit necessary site excavations to 12” in depth unless cost of probing locations of underground existing utilities / structures is accounted for in budget.

Artwork must not encroach or impede access to sidewalks, streets or parking areas.

Artwork must be an appropriate scale for the site and adjacent church buildings.

Artwork must be respectful and appropriate for people of all ages.

Artwork must consider safety issues and not create hazardous situations for the public.

Materials / Construction Guidelines

Materials used to construct the memorial artwork must be of a permanent, vandalism-resistant nature.  The work must be able to withstand Houston’s high heat and humidity as well as sometimes dangerous storm conditions. It must withstand sun, heat, rain and cold and require minimal upkeep.  Suggested acceptable materials include, but are not limited to, concrete, stone, brick, steel, aluminum, bronze, ceramics, and glass finished in such a way as to minimize ongoing upkeep requirements.

Artist Eligibility

St. Thomas invites submittals from artists or artist teams who are 18 years or older and eligible to work in the United States. Preference will be given to local and/or regional artists from Houston, Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.  Preference will also be afforded to artists of color and/or minority status. Qualified artists will be familiar with Houston and the Johnson Space Center. Artists will have experience with public art or demonstrate their capability of completing a project of this scale and will welcome public engagement in the design process.

Application Requirements

Resume (3 page maximum)

Work examples (Up to ten images total, any combination of overall and detail shots)

Include Title, Location, Date Completed, Size and Medium for each image

Artist statement (600 word maximum)

Letter of Interest (1000 word maximum)

Explain your interest in the work, design approach and unique qualifications for the project.


Provide contact information for three professional references familiar with your work and qualifications. Include Name, Organization, Position, Phone and Email

If submitting as a team, please list all members and indicate who will serve as the primary point of contact.  Each member must submit all the Application Requirements listed above.

Proposal Requirements

Conceptual Images / Sketches

Conceptual Project Description

Preliminary Budgeting Information

Detailed scale drawings are not required at the initial submittal stage. Please provide sketches and descriptions that are concise yet fully expressive of the proposed artwork.  Up to three concepts may be submitted.

Selection Process

All submittals will be reviewed by the Aesthetics Committee at St. Thomas. Up to three of the most qualified artists will be selected as finalists. The Committee will then interview the finalists; studio visits may be requested. The Committee may decide to request further development of the submitted concept from the finalists, including a more detailed budget and construction timeline, in which case an honorarium of up to $1,000 will be provided.

Selection Criteria

The evaluation committee will review submissions for:
Completeness of the submittal
Quality and aesthetic excellence of past projects submitted in work samples
Experience with similar projects as indicated in letter of interest and resume
Artistic merit and appropriateness of proposed preliminary concept
Inclusion of the desired project theme and values, as defined in the “Artwork Goals” section of the Call


Issue Call for Artists:  May 1, 2022

Questions Deadline:  July 18, 2022

Submissions Deadline:  August 1, 2022

Notification of Finalists:  August 29, 2022

Interviews / Submittal of Finalist Proposals:  September 26, 2022

Project Award:  October 24, 2022

Supplemental Materials

Site Location Maps

Link to St Thomas website (

Link to Episcopal Diocese of Texas Racial Justice Initiative (

Contact information

Alex Hillis

Family Minister, St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church

18300 Upper Bay Road

Houston, Texas, 77058


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