CTC opens photography exhibit of Harvey aftermath
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Central Texas College held a reception on Thursday afternoon to celebrate the opening of “Rockport,” an exhibit featuring the work of Austin-area photographer Elijah Barrett in the second-floor gallery of the Oveta Culp Hobby Library.
The show opened on September 18 and runs through November 12, during the library’s regular business hours.
Barrett, who has a bachelor’s degree in art (Photography & Video) from Yale University, gave a brief talk during the reception and chatted afterward with those who attended.
Barrett said he didn’t know initially that the project, which involved shooting photos in Rockport, Texas, three months after Hurricane Harvey, would develop into an exhibit.
“I was only in Rockport for about four or five days. I sort of stumbled upon it. Some of the big themes were the notion of squinting and straining. The sunlight and color were so powerful. You’re straining your eyes to see what’s in front of you.”
Overall, Barrett shot at least 1,000 images, which he culled until there were about 70 to 80. He said he narrowed the images down further because of cost and brevity, until he reached the 32 images that make up the collection a mixture of black-and-white and color images.
“Three months after the hurricane, this is what it looked like,” said Barrett. “It looked worse, and this This is a cleaned-up version of that.”
He said in talking to some of the residents, one woman he photographed said it was important for people to know that their town had it really bad, and a lot of the focus had shifted to Houston.
“I saw the sense of endurance people have. There’s pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps and get on with life. People were happy to have me there but they were very matter-of-fact, we’re just cleaning up,” Barrett said. “Life goes on. I was impressed. It was moving to see people saying, this is our home and we’re going to figure it out.”
Barrett also discussed photography in general.
“Photographs come at you without context. They don’t have words. They are inherently ambiguous. I think that’s what makes them so interesting. I feel like when I’m successful, I see my photographs crossing back and forth from the objective to the subjective.”
Prior to being installed at the Oveta Culp Hobby Library, Barrett’s work has been shown at the San Angelo Museum of Art and Silver Street Studios in Houston, with a future solo show of “Rockport” at the Popp Martin Student Union Art Gallery at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte scheduled for January 2019.
“Rockport” was also named a finalist for the 2018 New Orleans Photo Alliance Michael P. Smith Fund for Documentary Photography.