Department of Cultural Affairs NYCulture City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs NYCulture City of New York

Percent for Art

Houston Conwill, Estella Conwill Majozo, and Joseph DePace

Houston Conwill, Estella Conwill Majozo, and Joseph DePace Rivers, Terrazzo, 1991



Completion Date:





5'8" x 10'


Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture


515 Malcolm X Boulevard, Manhattan


Bono/Ryder Associates

Sponsor Agency:

New York Public Library

Design Agency:

Department of General Services

Art Commission Award for Excellence in Design 1990

Houston Conwill, Estella Conwill Majozo, and Joseph DePace's terrazzo floor plan, entitled Rivers, fills the lobby entrance of the Schomberg Center's auditorium. The cosmological diagram pays homage to both the poet Langston Hughes and the bibliophile Arthur Schomburg, after whom the building is named. The design features a mandala with inset verses from Hughes's poem, The Negro Speaks of Rivers, and terrazzo rivers flow outward. The poet's ashes lie beneath the center of the design, which is etched with the concluding line of the poem, "My soul has grown deep like the rivers."

About the Artist...
Houston Conwill, who works primarily as a sculptor, has received numerous art awards during his career, including the Prix de Rome Fellowship in 1984 and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award in 1987. He resides in Manhattan and maintains an art studio in Harlem. Joseph DePace is a Manhattan based architect who has collaborated extensively with artists. Estella Conwill Majozo is a poet who has published several volumes of verse. Conwill, Majozo, and DePace have collaborated on a number of works across the United States.

Artist Quote...
The lobby of the new Langston Hughes Theater acts as a threshold for the theater, as well as for the offices. For this space, we designed Rivers. Rivers is inspired by the poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers, by Hughes. Rivers offers a web of reference that include the geographic and mythic scope of both Arthur Schomburg and Langston Hughes. Literary passages from the poem form an integral part of the work and are embedded at relevant geographic locations. The entire image offers a microcosm -- a "theater-of-the-world" to be experienced by the casual stroller. The riverpaths of the work extend to the perimeter to embrace the entire lobby. -- Conwill, 1988