Abstraction, Black & White: A stARTup Houston 2019 Photography Preview
Feature by Content Curator Mica England
Houston has become a hotbed of contemporary art, and in particular, photography. While our Director has visited Houston many times before the start of our inaugural Houston fair, I have yet to place my feet. This week, in between running around dotting those last minutes i’s and crossing those down to the wire t’s, I hope to stop by two of Houston’s photo hubs: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) and the Houston Center for Photography.
Fortunately, the fair takes place during MFAH's newest exhibition: A History of Photography: Selections from the Museum's Collection, on view through February 23, 2020. This particular selection of photographers showcases some of my absolute favorites: Bernice Abbott, Walker Evans, László Moholy-Nagy, Kiki Smith, and Ishimoto Yasuhiro (pictured below), among others.
Keeping in the spirit of Houston photography, we saw a surge in photo applications for our first edition of stARTup Houston. We are honored to showcase these emerging photographers as they continue to hone their craft and develop their signature voice.
Seeing Featured Artist Aaron Turner’s body of work Black Alchemy for the first time took my breath away. In it he tackles the issues of identity, racial passing, abstraction, the historical archive, and the studio, while also thinking about ideas of the black artist as subject, and blackness as material. Aaron has also founded a curatorial project and podcast titled Photographers of Color in 2014 to aggregate the historical and contemporary work made by artists of color working in lens-based media.
Aaron takes "black and white" photography to the next level. Through abstraction he works to deconstruct what the color "black" and "black art" are in a society with a complicated history (to say the least) with blackness. And through both photography and abstraction, Aaron seeks to "emphasize blackness as material, insist on blackness as a multiplicity, and consider those who understand blackness from within a system that deems them black.”
In addition to exhibiting in Room 314 Turner will join Curator Haley Berkman in conversation on Saturday, October 12 at 1:30pm as part of our Art Conversations program. You can find more information on our Houston Programming page.
Ian Macleod in Room 408 is fascinated by the intersection of people and place, and traces of memory embodied by physical space. Drawing on his unique background in journalism, architecture, and history, Ian explores and documents the changing built environment and the ways we inhabit it. Two of his current long-term projects are tracing the history of development along Washington's suburban highways, and documenting Seattle's endangered mid-century structures.
When Ian submitted his work for consideration, I was very taken with his black and white urban landscapes — seemingly stills of a modern urban film noir I had yet to witness.
Like Aaron, Ian takes inspiration from photography’s ability to convey through abstraction and decontextualization. “While much of my work is in traditional film photography,” he says, “I am exploring the potential of ‘constructed’ space through merging digital and traditional media.” I am quite excited to see the results of those experiments in his room at stARTup Houston!
Houston photographer Ann Stautberg is exhibiting in Room 306 with local artists Jeff Jennings, Scott Madison, Steve Murphy, and Becky Newsom. Though stylistically different, they all make work that operates between modernist painting, sculpture and photography.
Like Ian, Ann’s work comes from her observations of her “personal environment, and its quality of light,” and draws from the natural abstraction and geometry she finds. Her large and small scale prints are annotated by date and time, with variances happening in quick succession.
How will her works co-exist with her 4 fellow exhibitors? I guess we’ll have to wait to see this Friday night. :)