Photographs and Monotypes by Children of Mineral de Pozos, Mexico
SAN MARCOS, Texas — The Southwestern & Mexican Photography Collection, part of the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University-San Marcos, will be exhibiting Mi Pueblo: The Pozos Children’s Project from April 4 through May 9, 2008, on the seventh floor of the Alkek Library. The public is invited to the reception on April 12.
Presenting over 80 works by the children of Mineral de Pozos, Guanajuato, Mexico, the show is part of an artistic and educational outreach project directed by renowned photographer and teacher Geoff Winningham and sponsored by The Jung Center in Houston.
Winningham, his wife, printmaker Janice Freeman, and eight Rice University students traveled to Pozos—where Winningham and Freeman have a home and studios—to teach local children basic photography and darkroom skills. The children, mostly between nine and sixteen years old, were given plastic Holga cameras and film to photograph their surroundings, then were taught traditional darkroom skills. They also learned basic printmaking and created monotype prints as well as photographic prints. There are over 70 photographs and 15 monotypes in the show.
The six-month project extended over the course of two trips, one in October of 2007 and one in November, but according to Winningham, it wasn’t until the second trip that the children’s images began to emerge as art:
"After passing out cameras and a few pointers—look at your subject from all angles, get close, and look for good light—we asked the kids to ‘show us the town,’ to take us to every part of Pozos and the surrounding countryside in search of good pictures…. It wasn’t until the second trip, in November, that good photographs began to appear regularly on the contact sheets. In October, there had been a great deal of positive energy, long hours in the darkroom, but many mistakes as well…. In November, we began showing the kids books and slides of great photographers’ work. We talked a bit about strong composition, about timing, and about the importance of waiting for things to happen in front of the camera. By the end of that second trip, we could see from the contact sheets that six or eight of the kids were showing real talent for photography. They were seeing and capturing not just things, but pictures of things."
The exhibition opened in March at The Jung Center as part of the city-wide FotoFest celebration in Houston. The project was made possible by funding from Abrams, Scott & Bickley, LLP, King & Spalding, LLP, Carolyn Grant Fay, and Sheila and Isaac Heimbinder.
The Wittliff is the first stop on the Mi Pueblo traveling tour, and the images will be gifted to the Wittliff Collections after the tour is finished.
EXHIBITION RECEPTION APRIL 12
The exhibition reception will begin at 7:00 pm on Saturday, April 12, with a discussion featuring Pozos project director Geoff Winningham, his wife, project studio coordinator and printmaker Janice Freeman, and seven of the eight Rice University students who assisted with the project: David Brown, Kassaundra Escalera, Kathleen Hanley, Myrth Killingsworth, Jessica Lipschutz, Kristopher Ian White, and Tyler Whitham (not in attendance: Bryant Chan). A limited number of exhibit catalogs, with an introduction by Winningham and preface by Pittman McGehee, will be sold for $10. Attendees are asked to please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or (512) 245-2313.
PURCHASING THE PRINTS
Prints of the photographs and monotypes in the show are available for purchase through Geoff Winningham. All proceeds go towards a Pozos community fund; the children themselves will decide how the money is to be used, possibly for a new darkroom. Photos are $100 (9" x 9") and $150 (15" x 15"); giclee prints of the monotypes are $200 (20" x 24"). Contact Geoff Winningham by email or phone at email@example.com or (713) 348-2080. Informational handouts will be available at The Wittliff Collections during the exhibit run.
The Wittliff Collection of Southwestern & Mexican Photography now counts over 300 photographs in its Geoff Winningham collection. Winningham’s career includes work as a photographer, filmmaker, and journalist. He received his bachelor's degree in English from Rice University in 1965, then studied photography at the Institute of Design in Chicago with Aaron Siskind, Arthur Siegel, and Harry Callahan. After receiving his Master’s degree there, he returned to Houston to pursue a career in creative photography, teaching, and professional photojournalism. He has served on the faculty at Rice University since 1969. Winningham is internationally known for his black-and-white documentary work on Texas subjects—high school football, rodeos and livestock shows, and early wrestling. For more than 20 years Winningham has offered photo workshops in Mexico and has photographed widely there. His monographs include Friday Night in the Coliseum (Allison Press, 1971), Going Texan: The Days of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (1972), Rites of Fall: High School Football in Texas (UT Press, 1979), A Place of Dreams: Houston, An American City (Rice University, 1986), In the Eye of the Sun: Mexican Fiestas (Norton, 1997), and Along Forgotten River: Photographs of Buffalo Bayou and the Houston Ship Channel, 1997-2001 (2003, Texas State Historical Society).