Houston-based Amy Blakemore takes photographs in order to explore the ways in which memory both records and transforms visual information. Employing the camera as subjective tool, Blakemore has compared the activity of photography to the process of gathering broken bits and lost objects discovered serendipitously during long walks. "Instead of picking up stuff," she states, "I leave with a flat, squared-off record of things and people in space." Amy Blakemore: Photographs 1988 2008, on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
, from May 9 to September 13, 2009, surveys Blakemore´s mature career with a carefully distilled selection of 36 works, ranging from early black-and-white street photographs to her lushly colored portraits and landscapes.
Originally trained in documentary traditions, in the mid 1980s Blakemore embraced the highly idiosyncratic Diana camera, black-and-white film, and the informal format and compositions of snap-shot photographs. At the same time, however, she brought to her practice a rigorous sense of composition and masterful printing techniques, drawing a nuanced range of tones and an exceptional degree of resolution from her negatives. In the mid 1990s, she made the transition to color work through a series of highly abstract landscapes, incorporating elements of the land, sea, and sky. By the end of the decade, a series of family portraits and views of her native Tulsa introduced a new element of intimacy into her work. Blakemore´s most recent photographs concentrate again on the figurewhether randomly captured or formally posed.
"What remains tantalizing throughout Blakemore´s work is her sense of interrupted and incomplete narrative," states Peter C. Marzio, director of the MFAH. "What at a glance may appear to be a casual shot, on closer examination is revealed to be a mysterious and psychologically penetrating view of the world we live in."
Exhibition curator Alison de Lima Greene adds: "Any overview of Amy Blakemore´s work must ultimately begin and end with light. Light is the essential agent of photography, and Blakemore manipulates it expertly, from the first click of the shutter to the laborious process of coaxing images from negatives and fixing them on paper. "
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1958, Blakemore received dual undergraduate degrees in psychology and art from Drury College (now Drury University), Springfield, Missouri, and an MFA in photography from the University of Texas at Austin, where she graduated in 1985. She spent the next two years as an artist-in-residence in the MFAH´s celebrated Core Program and joined the faculty of the museum´s Glassell School of Art in 1986. Recently the focus of solo exhibitions at Inman Gallery, Houston, and the Pingyao International Photography Festival, Blakemore was also featured in the 2006 Whitney Biennial, Day for Night, and the Contemporary Art Museum Houston´s Nexus/Texas in 2007.