FotoFest 2020-2021 announces its upcoming exhibitions, public programs, and the expansion of its online and virtual programming in response to the ongoing pandemic. FotoFest has adapted its programming to virtual and outdoor spaces, reimagining the possibilities of how the organization can effectively fulfill its mission within current public-safety guidelines.
FotoFest 2020-2021 exhibitions resume in November with the launch of Public Life, a series of outdoor art exhibitions presented on street-facing facades of buildings located throughout Arts District Houston. Large-scale vinyl photo banners, featuring works by global and Texas artists, including Jamal Cyrus, Eric Gyamfi and Zina Saro-Wiwa, featured in FotoFest’s Biennial 2020 exhibition African Cosmologies, will examine relationships between publicness, time, and community—concepts that have been challenged and redefined in 2020 by COVID-19, political unrest, and civil rights movements around the world. Amid turbulent times, FotoFest presents artists who document stories of strength and perseverance in the face of challenging cultural events, oppressive ideology, and histories of the politicization of the personal. The first exhibition in the FotoFest 2020-2021 series, Public Life: Distance and Diaspora, is on view November 14, 2020 through February 14, 2021. Subsequent exhibitions in the series will run through August 2021, and a new FotoFest mobile app will be launched to accompany the exhibitions.
This reimagining includes the presentation of free virtual discussions, Creative Conversations, with over 22 artists, curators, cultural critics, and art researchers to date, including artists featured in the 2020 Biennial exhibitions: Faisal Abdu’Allah, Laura El-Tantawy, leo and Shobun Baile, Rosana Paulino, and Aida Silvestri. The program series has also included cultural critic David Levi Strauss, academics Macarena Gómez-Barris and André Brock Jr., poet Roberto Tejada, and curators and organizers Peggy Sue Amison, Azu Nwagbogu, and Legacy Russell. Creative Conversations continue with events scheduled into 2021. Upcoming conversations and an archive of past programs may be found on the FotoFest website at www.fotofest.org.
FotoFest’s Meeting Place Portfolio Review for Artists reemerges online in March 2021, exclusively offering artists that had previously registered for reviews in Houston, postponed by the coronavirus crisis, opportunities to share their work with international photography experts, decision-makers, and collectors via Zoom. The legacy of the Meeting Place over its 34-year history is one of fostering meaningful connections between photographers and people who can support their careers. FotoFest is proud to sustain that legacy by continuing the program and its support of artists and photographers in the face of the pandemic’s new challenges.
FotoFest 2020-2021 is also initiating a new Meeting Place scholarship program specifically for Black photographers in an effort to better reflect the global community of photographers. This is part of an organization-wide effort to make tangible and direct efforts to pursue genuine equity across FotoFest’s programs and reaffirm our belief that Black lives and Black artists matter. Further details of this scholarship program will be announced shortly.
FotoFest’s learning program, Literacy Through Photography (LTP), has taken steps to respond and adapt its program to changing times and educational norms, pivoting the roll-out of its newly revised curriculum for online and at-home learning. Originally designed for in-classroom use by students in 3rd through 8th grades, LTP’s new online learning platform and adapted curriculum allows for opportunities to reach students while learning from home in the Houston region and beyond. The Literacy Through Photography learning program and its curriculum are established and innovative writing, photography, and literacy tools that offer students a creative avenue for greater self-expression and exploration.