Karen Navarro. Subject #9, (2019). Laser-cut embossed archival inkjet print. Courtesy of the artist. 

Image: Karen Navarro

Whether it be it through a staged or documentary lens, women have harnessed the power of photography and created their own narratives. From Cindy Sherman’s imaginative self-portraits to Deana Lawson’s celebrated depictions of the African diaspora, portrait photography, in particular, has been core to keeping file and capturing the essence of an image’s subject. 

Here are three women artists in Houston that might change the way you understand portraiture. 

BRIA LAUREN 

Bria Lauren. Jaylnn, 2020 from Gold Was Made Fa' Her series, 2019-ongoing. Image courtesy of the artist. 

Image: Bria Lauren

Bria Lauren is a Houston-born visual storyteller using portraiture to showcase the beauty of Black women. Her work is a result of spending time with the women she engages with by visiting their homes and absorbing the lessons and stories of their unique life experiences. Raised in Third Ward, Lauren uplifts women from underserved communities and pays homage to the intergenerational influence her subjects have on American culture. 

Visit Bria Lauren’s first solo exhibition, “Gold Was Made Fa’ Her” at Lawndale Art Center on view through January 15, 2022. 

KAREN NAVARRO 

Installation view of Karen Navarro's exhibition, The Constructed Self at Foto Relevance in Houston, Texas (2021). 

Argentine artist Karen Navarro uses portraiture to examine identity as a social and cultural construct. She pushes beyond the conventions of classic portraiture by deconstructing and reassembling images to create a collage effect. Her most recent series El Pertenecer en Tiempos Modernos (Belonging in Modern Times), explores the way social media impacts our self-perception. The printed photographs are embossed with words of popular internet hashtags. 

Karen Navarro was the subject of a solo exhibition entitled “The Constructed Self“ at Foto Relevance earlier this year.

EMILY PEACOCK 

Emily Peacock. die laughing, (2020). Image courtesy of the artist and Lawndale Art Center. 

Image: Emily Peacock

Port-Authur born artist Emily Peacock uses humor to navigate the harsh realities of life. For over a decade, Peacock’s family members have served as the subjects of her work and frequent collaborators. Her series, Matter of Kinship is inspired by Victorian family images and explores the complex relationship between Peacock and her sister following a divorce. From grief to motherhood and mental health, she transforms her personal journey into fantastical images, grounding her interests in conceptual art with reality. 

Check out Emily Peacock’s third solo exhibition “Lightweight” at Jonathan Hopson Gallery on view until December 6, 2021 and "die laughing" at Lawndale Art Center until January 15, 2022. 

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