Art and Soul

LIT BY SKYLIGHT: Rothko's rich canvases reveal themselves as viewers' eyes adjust. Whitehurst says that when clouds pass, "You really feel the power of the space he created." Photo: David Brown

Each day at her job makes Emilee Dawn Whitehurst feel "accountable to the holy." Whitehurst, '94, a Presbyterian minister with a divinity degree from Harvard, presides over Rothko Chapel in Houston. Built by philanthropists John and Dominique de Menil, the chapel contains 14 huge purplish-black paintings created by painter Mark Rothko for the site. The octagonal building is an intimate home for meditation, classes, weddings, concerts and activities promoting human rights. This year marks the interfaith chapel's 40th anniversary with events including 40 days of silent meditation at noon and an October 20 lecture by Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen. 

People gather around an instructor with their legs wide and their arms in a pyramid.MULTIPURPOSE ROOM: Tai Chi class meets in a space more often filled with contemplative guests. (Photo: David Brown) 

An odd shaped obelisk sits in the middle of a rectangular pool. Its heavy weight rests on a small, sharp point.COME IN REFLECTION: Some 60,000 visitors each year see "Broken Obelisk" by sculptor Barnett Newman on their way in. (Photo: Hickey-Robertson Photography)