In the world of photography, many groups and organizations work to promote photographic education and serve as a platform for up-and-coming photographers; we have the American Society of Media Professionals, the American Photographic Artists, Professional Photographers of America, and the Society for Photographic Education to name just a few. While any group of like-minded individuals with a common goal aids in bring new ideas and conversations to existence, arguably none has been as influential or as hard working as FotoFest.
Dating back to 1983, FotoFest was already a promising organization with its highly-regarded co-founders Frederick Baldwin and Wendy Watriss. Born in Switzerland, Frederick Baldwin moved to the United States at a young age and served as a Marine in Korea where he would later receive two Purple Heart Medals for wounds taken in battle. His early years were spent freelancing for such behemoths as Life, National Geographic, Esquire, Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, and many more. By 1981 Baldwin was teaching at the University of Texas at Austin in the School of Communications and also directed the Photojournalism program at the University of Houston. That same year, Wendy Watriss was presented with the prestigious Oskar Barnack Award for her work that exposed the effects of Agent Orange as experienced by Vietnam Veterans. After receiving the award from Leica Camera AG at the oldest European photography festival, the Rencontres Photographiques d’Arles, Wendy along with Frederick Baldwin and the European gallery director Petra Beneteler incorporated FotoFest into the Houston, TX photographic ecosystem.
Photo by Walter Pickering
Since, FotoFest has served the community of photographers through fourteen international biennial exhibitions, numerous educational programs such as Literacy through Photography, international exchange programs, and the coveted portfolio reviews referred to as The Meeting Place. Together along with various multi-cultural organizational spin-offs, FotoFest serves as the most important platform for new ideas, exchanges in inter-cultural art, and looks to the future to sustain a relevant interest in all photographic happenings around the globe. for new ideas, exchanges in inter-cultural art, and looks to the future to sustain a relevant interest in all photographic happenings around the globe.
For the Fifteenth FotoFest Biennial, VIEW FROM INSIDE, the world takes a look at contemporary Arab photographic art and highlights 49 Arab artists from 13 different countries. With the War on Terror in the Middle East still fresh in American’s minds, this collection of work showcases introspection and expression from a culture that most Americans have yet to experience. “This generation of artists grew up when satellite television, photo digital technologies, the internet and social media became widespread in the Arab world,” says FotoFest Senior Curator Wendy Watriss. With the internet and social media offering channels between different cultures, it’s not the differences but the similarities that will most likely be talking points for discussions among students and artists, alike. This year’s biennial also comes on the heels of the new executive director, Steven Evans. As a revered artist and curator, Evans looks to bring a fresh vision to the organization but intends to keep the basic principles of spreading knowledge the same.
FotoFest is a biennial multimedia festival that is held in Houston, TX. There are various reasons as to why artist attend each year, whether you want to network, experience new culture or view amazing art. Creators have their most recent work reviewed; empowered and enlightened minds will be surrounding the event giving them a chance to connect with other well-known artist. Curators, art buyers, book editors, and art enthusiast will be attending assuring that countless opportunities to network ¬¬will be available. In addition, you can admire the work of talented artists that had the privilege of being selected for such a prestigious exhibit. Each artist creates a body of work that impacts the viewer making it an invigorating experience that will last long after the event is over.
“What’s great about FotoFest is the photographers and artists that you meet. They fly from all over the world and sometimes it’s a once and a lifetime chance to meet certain people. There are friends that I’ve met at FotoFest that I still keep in touch with today.”- Photographer, Walker Pickering
Karin Adrian Von Roques, a renowned curator, will be providing her assistance and knowledge of middle-eastern art. She studied Islamic history and has a background in contemporary Arabic and Iranian art cultures.
“The FotoFest 2014 Biennial will be the first presentation of contemporary photo-based and video art from the Arab countries to be done in the United States in recent years. We are looking at the work of the most important artists from several Arab countries.” – Curator, Karin Adrian Von Roques\
Photo by Walter Pickering
Other programs and events include Arab conferences, lectures and symposiums. Topics to be discussed are: The History of Visual Art and Photography in the Arab World, Photography in the Arab World Today, Religion and Spirituality in Contemporary Art, The Role of New Media in Contemporary Art, and Gender Art in the Middle East and North Africa. This will be held Saturday March 29, 2014 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston (MFAH). Artists will be presenting to local schools, colleges and universities. Arab literature, music, poetry and films will also be showcased at the event. Visit http://2014biennial.fotofest.org/ to stay informed on all dates and locations.
Photo by Walter Pickering
Arab exhibitions will be held from March 15 – April 27 2014. The following are the four venues where the art will be displayed and open to the general public.
Spring Studios, 1824 Spring Street, Houston, TX 77007
Winter Street Studios, 2101 Winter Street, Houston, TX 77007
Silver Street Studios, 2000 Edwards Street, Houston, TX 77007
Williams Tower, 2800 Post Oak Blvd, Houston, TX 77056