Black Ladder - CODAworx

Black Ladder

Submitted by McClain Gallery

Client: Rice University

Location: Houston, TX, United States

Completion date: 2014

Artwork budget: $150,000

Project Team


Stephen Dean

Art Consultant

Robert McClain

McClain Gallery


Molly Hubbard

Rice University


Dichroic glass and aluminum installed in a custom built window projected slightly out from the building. 336 x 16 x 2 inches spanning the height of two flights of stairs.


This piece highlights the multiple ways in which light challenges the perception of color, form and structure. “Black Ladder,” a 30-foot-tall sculpture created by French-American artist Stephen Dean, was installed in the center’s main stairwell window at Rice University’s Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, which is set into the front façade on the east side of the building. Dean’s sculpture employs varied panels of dichroic glass framed within the form of a ladder and fills the width and height of the window. Reminiscent of a cathedral’s stained glass window, the sculpture filters natural light through its glass during the day and projects an array of color onto the floors and wall. Each glass panel is composed of multiple colors and has both reflective and translucent qualities. After dark, the sculpture is lit and visible to those within the building and passers-by outside.


McClain Gallery proposed the work of Stephen Dean to Rice University as a commission opportunity for their new building on campus. Rice University's Public Art Director, Molly Hubbard said Dean’s work is a welcome and fitting addition to the university’s public art collection and Dean jumped at the opportunity to work with a prestigious institution. Dean expressed high regard and respect for the projects being done at Rice.