HCP´s Juried Membership Exhibition has historically received national attention. The juror for the 25th Anniversary Juried Membership Exhibition is Anne Wilkes Tucker, founding HCP member, and the Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator of Photography of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Tucker´s influence in the field of fine art photography is noteworthy; she recently received the first Lifetime Achievement Focus Award from the Griffin Museum of Photography.
Mary Magsamen and Stephan Hillerbrand
On first survey, this diverse group of photographs offers scant connecting threads. Then, by reading the artists´ statements, childhood experiences and the lives of other family members emerge as repeated stimuli, ranging from Janice Rubin´s photographs of recent immigrants being inspired by her grandmother´s experiences to Elizabeth Raymer´s working from "the interest-turned-obsessions" of family members to select the props and activities employed in her self-portrait series. Jamie Redmond employs text that amplifies and layers content in her photographs of inanimate objects. She realized how such objects evoke associations with persons now missing from her life, and moves the experience toward more universal applications.
Another thread are the photographers who continue to embrace the formal and complex beauty of architecture (Alejandro Cartagena and Brad Moore), of landscapes (Joe Aker, Al Braden and Linda Gilbert) and of still lives (Mei-Mei Dillard, Louis Smith, and Marilyn Waligore), but each with their own parameters.
Despite the digital age and its undermining of the concept of "photographic truth", some photographers continue to embrace the medium´s capacity to document. They direct our attention to the lives of boxers (Tom Foster), to Lebanese families living in war torn buildings (Rania Matar), to smokers determinedly squeezing out forbidden space in which to smoke (Laura Noel), and to the changing conditions in homes whose occupants are in the process of moving (Peter Riesett). Both Jennifer Greenwell and Bill Walterman documented churches: Greenwell worked with Catholic religious sites and Walterman with one particular small Baptist church in East Texas. Adam Schrieber´s nostalgia for technology and its oddities are uncovered in his documentations of corporate, cultural, and research institutions. Mary Parisi admits ambivalence to the food that she photographs before consuming it, while Jean Karotkin was inspired by a Pierre Bonnard painting to photograph women at their vanity tables. Mary Magsamen and Stephan Hillerbrand document the act of blowing up bubble gum in images that are both straightforward and almost unrecognizable. Like Karotkin, they are inspired by the images of other artists, especially cinematographers. The desire to photograph while otherwise employed led Colleen Mullins to photograph vacationers on upscale cruises and David McClain to create the series "Hotels I Live In." Susan Burnstine "documents" dreams by using various hand-made cameras and lens to create in-camera evocations of dream-like scenes without later manipulations, while Polly Chandler inserts herself into allegories that explore identity and spirituality. Mark Menjivar also photographs an intangible experience, that of waiting. His titles explain that Rachel is waiting in her hospital bed for a cure while Angie is waiting to grow up.
Other photographers´ images appear to be documents, but were staged with a winning attention to detail. Nathan Baker sets up seemingly ordinary accidents at home for a series titled "Ruptures." Jonathan Gitelson exaggerated the amount of flyers that coat his car each morning until the car was camouflaged. Francis Schanberger makes diptychs that present both the act of photographing with a large-format camera as well as the image being created. Matt Adams worked in collaboration with his subject to create striking images with meanings more clear to the collaborators than the viewers, largely because he and his subject co-developed the series and each individual image. Some photographers make no attempt to conceal the staging and manipulation that are part of their process. Julie Brook Alexander employs both black-white and color photographs as well as hand-coloring in her collaged landscapes to heighten the sense of emotional turmoil referred to in her series title "Undercurrents." Krista Leigh Steinke works with children to simulate scenes from newly imagined fairy tales and Eric Michael Jones merges his own photographs and appropriated imagery to visually juxtapose disconcerting opposites. Keijiro Suzuki constructs bombs or incorporates toy bombs into still lives to urge reconsideration of wartime perspectives. Working with computers also affords photographers the capacity to make undetected changes or to invent scenes out of their imaginations. Beckwith Thompson floats "heirloom objects" in spaces that allude to the objects primary existence being in her memory.
The largest group within the show with common concerns makes portraits or portrays people through a documentary series. Among the portraitists are those who concentrate on their own families. Aron Gent works with an aunt who has Down syndrome; he portrays Aunt Suzie as well as her relationships with other family members. Laura Epstein-Norris captures the summer activities of her family, while Thomas Holton photographed his grandmother during her last illness. Inspired by Roman busts, Will Michels photographs the heads and bare shoulders of men eliciting something between their public persona and interior mental states. Jeff Farmer´s subjects are animals, isolated for close viewing. From late July 2004 to mid-January 2006 (18 months), Christine Gatti photographed herself and her environment on the 18th minute of every hour, using a timer while she slept. She created 20,000 images of that time in her life and consequently in the lives of those around her. Brian Aftanas approached his self-portraits through images with text that define him within a specific context, such as his corporate self, or his status as a foreigner. Lydia Panas explores "how individuals place themselves in relation to one another in front of the camera," making images about the relationship as well as the individuals.
In selecting each photographer, I looked for clarity. What did they want us to see? What do they want us to feel? How appropriate were their decisions of craft: camera, processes, and scale of print? The last of these was an unknown to me as I won´t see the originals until the opening of the exhibition. But repeatedly looking through the digital reproductions from which the exhibition was juried, I am heartened by wide range of engaging works presented.
Anne Wilkes Tucker
Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator of Photography
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Eric Michael Jones
Mary Magsamen & Stephan Hillerbrand
25th Anniversary Juried Membership Exhibition Opening Reception
Friday Jun 8, 2007
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Juried Membership Exhibition Artist Talks
Saturday Jun 16, 2007
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Juried Membership Exhibition Artist Talks
Thursday Jun 21, 2007
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM