Houston, Texas, USA may seem to some like an unlikely place to find one of the most important art worlds for photography in the world. How this came to be is a fascinating, sociologically rich story of passionate, visionary individuals and three core institutions: the development of the Photography Department at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston; Fotofest, the largest international photography festival in the world, and the first in the U.S., nurtured into being by two photojournalists; and one of the few membership-based photography organizations that is well resourced and financially stable, Houston Center for Photography. My presentation chronicles the origins of the photography community within the broader context of Houston, traces the efforts of key individuals and discusses the various social, historical, and economic factors that have helped to shape this thriving visual community. Using qualitative methods of participant-observation, photo-elicitation interviews and archival research, the striking evolution of this community is approached both sociologically and aesthetically. Charting the shift from regional interests to international recognition within a broader organizational analysis, the Houston case provides an insightful look at how art worlds are formed and fostered.
Tracy Xavia Karner, University of Houston, United States
Paper Information Conference: CITY2018
Stream: Visual and Performing Arts
Added on Tuesday, August 28th, 2018
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