An exhibition opening today at the Houston Center for Photography investigates the essential elements of photography through the work of 12 contemporary artists. Organized by photographer, educator and curator Keliy Anderson-Staley, “The Surface of Things” emphasizes the range of possibilities that creative minds can coax from light and a photosensitive surface without the aid of a camera. There are several photograms in the exhibition, while other works were created using color film, inks, human ashes and other elements that have interacted with a light-sensitive surface.
A color photogram by Adam Fuss depicts the silhouette of a wild-haired baby floating in dark-yellow liquid, while Hernease Davis’s work “Charleston,” is a grid of photograms that form a female figure with arms outstretched and a head of fire. Meghan Riepenhoff created “Ecotone #47” by exposing light sensitive paper to rain, and Alison Rossiter made her “Agfa Ansco, exact expiration date unknown, ca. 1950’s” work using photo paper that expired 60 years before she used it. Tere Garcia, Meggan Gould, Myra Greene, Farrah Karapetian, Aspen Mays and Brittany Nelson are also part of the show, which is on display through January 15.
The exhibition positions the surface of a photograph as a portal into worlds of metaphor and significance. As Anderson-Staley writes in her statement about the show, “The photographs invite us to examine how objects carry meaning and cultural and political weight and the ways in which they become metaphors for other things. In this sense a thing, or its surface, is never all there is.”