Glancing at the adjacent image, you might see tree roots or celestial bodies or even a gorgeous orange sunset in the corner, but it's actually the orange and yellow veins of a preserved heart. This is the complexity of Steve Fisher’s award-winning photo Heart—part of his “Teachers of Anatomy” photo series.
“It has a sort of other-worldly feel about it,” Fisher says. “It’s obvious that it’s something organic, something anatomical, but it has a much bigger potential interpretation. I like images that have different interpretations and that one encompasses a lot just beauty and beyond.”
Fisher, a Pearland resident and fine art photographer, entered the Houston Center for Photography’s 36th Annual Juried Membership Exhibition and was one of three, out of nearly 200 worldwide entries, to receive the Beth Block Juried Membership Honoraria award, which includes a $1,000 prize and a feature in HCP’s publication, Spot magazine.
Fisher’s Heart seeks renew the medical history of anatomists. He says the preservation of anatomical objects, such as the heart in the 1800s and early 1900s, are no longer recognized or used in medical education. Fisher hopes to us photography to give historical preserved anatomy collections a new purpose.
“I want people to see the inherent beauty that is the work of early anatomists and maybe appreciate their place in medical history in a new way,” Fisher says.
The HCP Juried Exhibition provides Fisher and 37 other artists the opportunity to gain prestigious recognition not only in the photography community, but the general art community. “Putting a competition at HCP on your résumé with such a distinguished juror, Lisa Volpe, is a really important feather in your cap for just gaining credibility in the arts,” Fisher says.
Volpe, the associate curator of photography at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, was touched by Fisher’s piece, along with the work of Susan Lapides and Greer Muldowney—the other two Beth Block award recipients—because they investigated different subjects and had articulate execution.
“All of these artists are producing cohesive and well-made work that references significant topics beyond the photographic frame,” she says.
Volpe sees the juried exhibit as a means to bring in photographers, old and new, to a prominent setting. Volpe says one of the pieces she selected for the exhibit was created by Tyrone Matthews, a young man new to photography. “When I see the submissions, I don’t know anything about your age, your experience, or past work,” Volpe says. “I’m only looking at the quality of the work submitted, and his was great.”
Matthews’ piece, Aquarius, is an almost candid portrait of a person with large, circular glasses and hands raised up near the neck. The subject is positioned asymmetrically along a clear sheet with leaves and pink flowers flowing behind.
When Volpe met Matthews at the exhibition opening, she says “he was thrilled to see his work on the wall, and he mentioned that the experience was a vote of confidence to keep photographing and trying new things in his work.”
“That’s a success story,” Volpe adds.
Thru August 26. Free. Houston Center for Photography, 1441 W Alabama St. 713-529-4755. More info at hcponline.org.