Dorothy Hood: The Edge of Being

Part I  |  October 2021 – May 2023

On View

 As an artist, Texas-born Dorothy Hood (1918-2000) was best known for abstract works layered with a variety of materials, motifs and meanings. During her long career, her canvases and works on paper often referenced physical and mental landscapes as well as the connections between inner and outer worlds. Hood’s work was liminal, seamlessly moving between big concepts and the deeply personal.

The artist described her ease with in-between zones in terms of a pliant tension. “I have looked towards an affirmative background in experiencing a world of the spiritual realm,” she wrote in a statement for an early exhibition at New York’s Willard Gallery. “By the spiritual we discover manifold life, folding over. Yet there is an edge of being, an attitude of seeing… I see the spirit [revealed] from a pliant tension…”

That metaphorical “edge” where such dualities as Earth/space or spirit/matter came together certainly served as a space for Hood’s creative prowess. Yet nothing was ever absolute with her. The artist was just as interested in resolving aesthetic dilemmas. In fact, some of Hood’s best works expressed frictions between the reductive qualities of her many voids—moments when nothing (or everything) was left out of her compositions—and an accumulative practice characterized by texture, densely packed pigment, and abundant material. The works featured in Dorothy Hood: The Edge of Being reflect her aesthetic range. Together with a curated selection of ephemera and other materials from the artist’s personal archive, these artworks serve as extraordinary examples of the intensity and soul that defined her being.

Dorothy Hood: The Edge of Being features artworks from several collections including those of Public Art UHS and the Art Museum of South Texas (AMST) as well as objects drawn from the Dorothy Hood Papers, a collection of the AMST and the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections.

The exhibition expands beyond the gallery space at UH Special Collections and into the campuses of the University of Houston and the University of Houston-Clear Lake. 

Opened in August 2022, Part II of Dorothy Hood: The Edge of Being showcases two large-format paintings by Dorothy Hood as well as a selection of her exceptional collages. 

See map of artworks below.


University of Houston

Special Collections, MD Anderson Library 

Bert F. Winston Band Complex at TDECU Stadium

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, Wortham Theatre Lobby


University of Houston-Clear Lake

Bayou Building, 2nd floor


UH Libraries Special Collections is currently open Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and by appointment. We encourage visitors to contact Head of Special Collections Christian Kelleher at or (713) 743-0346 for more information and directions—and to get a special extended look into Dorothy Hood’s personal archives in UH Libraries Special Collections.

The Edge of Being | Part II

Learn more about the new and expanded selection of artworks by Dorothy Hood included in the exhibition Dorothy Hood: The Edge of Being.

The Edge of Being | Opening Reception and Colloquium

(October 14, 2021) Opening reception and colloquium for the exhibition Dorothy Hood: The Edge of Being.

Map of Artworks

A map charting out locations of Dorothy Hood works at the University of Houston and across the UH System is available here.

Dorothy Hood | Research

The University of Houston is the premier destination for scholars, students and others interested in the work of Dorothy Hood (1918-2000). 

Dorothy Hood Papers

Learn more about the personal papers of Dorothy Hood at the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections.

Exhibition Highlights

The Angel’s Key, 1987

Coptic Days, ca. 1981

Time the Bridge of Doors, 1979

Going Forth V, 1997

The Face in the Sea, ca. 1970

Red Autumn, n.d.

Homage to Matisse, ca. 1969