The Central Texas College Fine Arts department announced the opening of its fall semester gallery art show on September 18. "Rockport," features photographs by Austin-based artist Elijah Barrett and chronicles the weeks and months after Hurricane Harvey swept through the community of Rockport, Texas and the surrounding area. The group of photographs takes the form of a conventional photo essay but is more searching, ambiguous and open-ended. The work materializes into a meditation on seeing and perceiving disaster.
“While photographing, I found myself squinting, either to shield my eyes from the glaring sunshine or to take a closer view of something before me’” said Barrett. “Reviewing the work, I observed many of my photographs demanded a similar kind of squinting in order to see the bare description of the destruction, the clash between the formal elements in the abstract still lifes, or the bright glint of light reflecting off the water. These photographs ask us to reflect on the natural impulse to shield one's eyes or divert one’s attention from what is overwhelming, and the strain that is required to see these hard realities more clearly.”
Barrett graduated in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in art from Yale University. He has spent several years directing short documentary films about contemporary artists while working in advertising and commercial film. He photographs broadly without a specific theme or focus in mind, occasionally pausing to pursue a subject in more depth such as “Rockport” which was named a finalist for the 2018 New Orleans Photo Alliance Michael P. Smith Fund for Documentary Photography.
“‘Rockport’ materialized not only into in a documentary account, but also a meditation on seeing and perceiving disaster,” said Barrett. “Rockport is a starting point for us to consider our responsibilities to coastal communities as hurricanes become more frequent and severe, as well as a quiet testament to the unique and still alluring shimmer of the Gulf Coast amid the destruction.”
“Rockport” is available through November 12 in the upstairs art gallery of the CTC campus library during normal business hours. A meet-the-artist reception will be held Thursday, September 20 in the gallery from 4-5 p.m. Both the exhibit and reception are free and open to the public.
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