April 9 - April 23, 2016
University of Houston, Photography and Digital Media, Senior Thesis Exhibition featuring: Amer Alnasrawi, Jacqueline Andrade, André Brooks, Velma Cariaga, Taylor Cox, Teresa Dunham, Orlando Flores, Tere Garcia, Victoria Paige Gonzales, Ángel Lartigue, Scott Martin, Shannon McDonnell, Ashley Merritt, Sidney Mori, Lizette Belen Soto, Andi Valentine, and Stephanie Williams.
Essay by Allison Pappas
In today's world, identity is understood as a multiplicity of social roles that morph and are discarded, encompassing physical, psychological, sociological, and philosophical selves. We acknowledge different facets of identity - internal and external constructions, both cultural and individual - and believe that the true, full self develops somewhere in the balance of these opposites, shaped by every encounter and experience we have from birth to death. From its earliest days, photography has been taken as a matrix for the exploration of composite or performative identity, mapping out the tension between surface presentation and underlying self in the relationship between artist and subject. In the nineteenth century, photography was often called the democratic medium for enabling people of all classes the power of self-presentation that the high cost of painting has make prohibitive. Today the medium is granted a greater degree of agency in the exploration or formation of identity. The photograph not only allows the presentation of self, it aids in the discovery of self.
The artists in this exhibition explore the nature of identity through the varied lens of photography. Some allude to the complexity of assuming identity can be understood at a visible, surface level, by giving viewers just enough characteristics of the subject's life to infer their own narratives, acknowledging that each will come away with different conceptions of the subject. Others incorporate themselves into this dynamic, inviting viewers into their own lives and environments. Some of the artists employ photography to explore their personal relationships with social constructions such as race and gender, testing isolated imagery against normative cultural expectations. Others focus on the more introspective side of identity construction, communicating emotional or ideological perspectives to illuminate their subjective experiences of the world. Each uses photography to uncover the manifold relationships between artist, subject, and viewer, forming a dialogue between individuality and social constructions.