SATURDAY NOV. 5, the first in Houston’s series of nomadic photo exhibits and community art space Where they arean exhibition of experimental photo-installations by local artists Debra Barrera, Theresa Escobedo, Brandon Tho Harris and Emily Peacock.
FLATS founder Jessi Bowman hosted the show, whose title is taken from the chorus “It’s not where you’re from, it’s where you are!” heard on Eric B. and Rakim’s classic hip-hop track “In the Ghetto.” It also references our current, post-pandemic cultural moment, and how each artist in the exhibition uses the medium and tools of photography to take stock of the past and present. “They explore their personal stories,” says Bowman. “But they are also exploring where they are currently in time.”
Bowman, 34, a graduate of UH with a degree in art history and photography, was inspired to form FLATS after a visit with a collective of photographers in New York who had banded together to form a nonprofit organization. non-profit and create a tight bond, supportive network. Meanwhile, back in Houston, her photographer friends were upset at the lack of available venues to show their work. Bowman, who at the time was director of exhibitions at the Houston Center for Photography, decided to organize a grassroots exhibition of local photographers, including friends alongside artists new to her, and show the work in first two rooms of his apartment. .
“I picked people I knew and reached out to people I didn’t know, just to bridge that gap and tighten the community up a bit,” Bowman says. She chose the name FLATS as a reference to an apartment or “apartment”, and for the next three years Bowman continued to hold a series of one-night events at apartments, choosing a different area code for each exhibit. . For Where they areFLATS collaborates with The Plant/Second Ward to present its first large-scale, longer-term exhibition.
For Bowman, the current state of the art of photography is particularly exciting, with tired debates regarding the superiority of digital images over analog images (or vice versa) now abandoned in favor of a more holistic attitude towards technology and adopting a high degree of experimentation with the environment.
“In this exhibit, you’ll see a lot of photography as sculpture,” says Bowman. “You’re going to see a wide range of how the photos were taken, how they were printed, and how they were installed and used in the space.”
One example is the work of Theresa Escobedo, who explores her family history and ancestral heritage through large offered (or “offerings”), and is inspired by religious practices and celebrations in Mexico, including the Día de Muertos. “She made one offered a year,” says Bowman, who notes that Escobedo is expanding this traditional practice through the use of modern wallpapers and 3D printing technology.
As part of Where they are, November 20, FLATS is hosting a Where They’re At Feast, a five-course, family-style Thanksgiving fundraising dinner prepared by Chef Thomas Stacy of ReikNa and served at the center of the exhibit. The event also includes a “one-of-a-kind mariachi performance” by Houston musician Andrea Daniela. “It’s going to be a pretty cool and delicious event,” said Bowman who, along with exhibiting artists, FLATS magazine contributors and other FLATS team members will be in attendance. In addition to enjoying an incredible meal, the feast gives Houstonians the opportunity to experience and appreciate first-hand the DIY spirit of the city’s arts community.