Peer behind the doors of the Houston Center for Photography and you will discover a gallery of photography collections. The white cube is decorated with portraits–a glimpse into an inner monologue–and landscapes. Nestled within Houston’s Museum District, HCP is a magnet for photography lovers and city dwellers looking for a bit of tranquility and artistic inspiration.
Opening in 1982, the Houston Center for Photography was a pioneer as the first member-run cooperative. It later became a non-profit visual artist organization, breathing artistic life onto the streets of Houston. The gallery has showcased work from some of the greatest photographers of the 20th century and has directed emerging talents on a path to great artistic success.
The only facility to house a publicly-accessible digital dark room, HCP’s renaissance is to celebrate and raise awareness about photography and its evolving role in contemporary culture. In doing so, the organization strives to encourage artists, build audiences, and promote inquiry about related media through education, exhibitions, and community collaborations.
Since its creation, the Houston Center for Photography has been intentional about bringing together students from diverse ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds to collaborate and create exhibitions. Each exhibition is designed to showcase the artist’s work.
Temporary exhibitions currently on view include Margin and Center, a collaboration with For Freedoms, which features artists such as Carrie Mae Weems, Richard Misrach, Wendy Ewald, Omar Imam, and more. This exhibit represents the challenges—the physical, psychological, and ideological fractures—that divide us, but also the potential we have to overcome them.
One featured artist is Soumya Sankar Bose, a 27-year-old documentary photographer from India. His work, Full Moon in a Dark Night, touches on the experiences of Bose’s personal LGBT friends in India. He projects their desires, rights, and dreams, re-examining traumatic pasts through his subjects’ visions and anxieties.
In one photograph, Bose’s subject wears lingerie and poses in the sea, flaunting his body like a model. In India, the LGBT community lives in the shadows, having strict standards for how people are required to behave. Never having the chance to fulfill his inner dreams, the frustration and sadness are reflected deeply in the model’s eyes. Bose photographs represent a fictional world where his subjects are free to exist per their own desires.
The gallery hosts regular exhibitions, many of them challenging boundaries. The artists zoom in and expose a glimpse of an individual’s life. They make you question your assumptions, thus giving birth to expansive and inclusive ideas.
Featuring some of the finest works of contemporary photography and housing instructors from all over the world, HCP offers over 300 photography classes, including year-round workshops, in varying competency levels. They have also opened a Learning Center to develop lifelong learning opportunities for aspiring photographers.
As a founding and current HCP advisory council member, Peter Brown said,
We have had show after show of cutting-edge work that has helped to define the state of photography, both regionally and nationally, and we are still a center of the photographic life in Houston.”
Should you have a little time to kill, the Houston Center for Photography’s gallery is worth exploring. The surrounding area, including museums and green spaces, is one of the best places in Houston to while away the hours.
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