3 Women Artists Who Are Redefining Portrait Photography in Houston

3 Women Artists Who Are Redefining Portrait Photography in Houston
Karen Navarro's pink collaged portrait on multiplicity of identity and self-representation thru social media.

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. 

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. “ Amarie Gipson from Houstonia Magazine



LensCulture Critics’ Choice Award 2021 winner

Karen Navarro is a winner (Top ten) for the Critics' Choice 2021. The CC is designed to maximize exposure and opportunities for talented photographers who are ready for the global stage and international recognition.

The Constructed Self was chosen as one of the Top 10 in the LensCulture Critics’ Choice 2021. How were the Top Ten chosen? Photographers who were selected by more than one critic or had the highest cumulative ratings of all submissions became the Top Ten. They will each receive a $1000 grant in recognition of their work in addition to having their work published in a photobook and being permanently exhibited on LensCulture website.
“Karen Navarro’s practice explores ideas of selfhood as a social and cultural construct. By transforming two-dimensional prints into sculptural objects, Navarro at once dismantles the essentialist idea of fixed identities while photographically offering her subjects the opportunity to reconstruct their own through her playful and kinetic process. Employing vibrant colors and patterns and geometric constellations, Navarro’s work mimics the shape-shifting nature of identity.” – Alona Pardo



Artpace San Antonio: Slowed & Throwed exhibition

Artpace San Antonio Slowed and Throwed art museum show.
Deconstructed multimedia portrait, green tiles collage of Afroamerican male in stripped shirt

Artpace San Antonio announced that Slowed and Throwed: Records of the City Through Mutated Lenses will be on view at Artpace from July 29–November 21, 2021. Originally exhibited at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Slowed and Throwed is the first museum exhibition with a conceptual focus on the late Houston hip hop legend DJ Screw. The exhibition explores visual arts practices that parallel the musical methods of this innovative DJ and feature unconventional photography and new media works by artists with personal ties to Texas, including B. Anele, Rabéa Ballin, Tay Butler, Jimmy Castillo, Jamal Cyrus, Robert Hodge, Shana Hoehn, Tomashi Jackson, Ann Johnson, Devin Kenny, Liss LaFleur, Karen Navarro, Ayanna Jolivet Mccloud, Sondra Perry, and Charisse Pearlina Weston. The exhibition will open at Artpace with an in-person reception on Thursday, July 29, from 6–9pm. The reception is free and open to the public. More information about the exhibition, such as opening reception details, programming, etc. will be announced at a later date. Please visit Artpace.org to stay informed.



“The Constructed Self” solo show

THE CONSTRUCTED SELF 04/30/2021 - 06/25/2021 at Foto Relevance 4411 Montrose Boulevard, Suite C Houston, TX 77006

Karen Navarro’s The Constructed Self is the Houston-based photographer and multimedia artist’s first solo exhibition at Foto Relevance. A vivid and even more tactile expansion of the artist’s earlier portfolio El Pertenecer en Tiempos Modernos (Belonging in Modern Times), Navarro’s The Constructed Selfrealizes meditations on self-representation and identity through dynamic photosculpture configurations. Disrupting photography’s traditional two-dimensional presentation, these colorful new works come assembled in a multitude of ways—some stacked and spinning, others paneled and puzzled together. These geometric complexities illustrate the abilities we all have to reorder and rearrange the many facets of our public-facing identities.


Holocaust Museum Houston show opening

Karen’s new work“Shine America 2043” will debut at the Holocaust Museum’ show Withstand: Latinx Art in Times of Conflict .

The show opens on April 30, 2021. Withstand: Latinx Art in Times of Conflict will explore themes of social justice and human rights through 100 artworks of Houston Latinx artists. The multi-media exhibition will be a platform that examines issues that impact the community, fosters dialogue on difficult questions, and ultimately empowers social change through art. Click here for more info.


Lensculture Art Photography Award, Finalist juror’s pick

The Constructed Self series selected as finalist and juror’s pick by the art director of Harper’s magazine, Kathryn Humphries in the Lensculture Art Photography Award. “I was drawn to Karen Navarro’s work because of the dialogue it encourages between the subjects, the artist, and the audience. The sculptural and collage elements of the work allow for the reimagining of each piece– they can be observed from different viewpoints, as well as reassembled. The palettes, large scale, and use of hashtags also provoke questions about representation and categorization. We are asked to consider who informs these decisions and which social constructs are at work in the process.” Kathryn Humphries.



Lensculture interview

Interview by Liz Sales

Hanging from the ceiling of Karen Navarro’s studio is a photographic portrait of a young woman printed in strips onto horizontal wooden slats strung together to create a mobile. Each slat in this kinetic photographic sculpture seems to have the freedom to rotate independently. So, while the actual image remains the same, the viewer’s perception of it is subject to change. 

This mobile is a piece in the artist’s ongoing series, The Constructed Self, for which she cut and reassembled photographic portraits to build collages and sculptures. Navarro, an Argentinian artist, based in Houston, Texas, has created these dimensional portraits, with pieces that can be rearranged and displayed in a variety of ways to express the relationship between identity and perception. 

In this interview for LensCulture, she speaks to Liz Sales about her inspiration to make work addressing identity, the material nature of her working process and changing sense of self.”

To read more click here



Print sale - PHmuseum editions

Collect & Support Latin American Photography 

“Fragment, 2019” is part of the LATINAMERICANA fine art print sale by PHmuseum. 42 Latin American photographers were selected to participate in the limited edition fine art sale that runs only for 15 days. This is a great opportunity to acquire a print of “Fragment, 2019” and the first time to be on sale in this format.

About the initiative: “Way back in 2012 in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, we started PHmuseum with the dream and ambition of creating a democratic space to access contemporary photography and its language. It is thank to the passion and support of the Latin American community that it all started. This is why our first limited edition print sale is dedicated to celebrate and discover the photography of the continent.”  Giuseppe Oliverio




Shortlisted for Photo London Emerging Photographer of the Year Award 2020

Delighted to announce Karen Navarro has been shortlisted for the Photo London Emerging Photographer of the Year Award 2020, in partnership with Nikon Northern Europe. 

The prize was launched during the first edition of Photo London in 2015. It is awarded to a young artist showing at Photo London. 

The Shortlisted Finalists for the Emerging Photographer of the Year Award 2020 are: Margaret (Sherie) Ngigi, presented by AKKA Project; Sameer Tawde, presented by Up Gallery; Thandiwe Muriu, presented by 193 Gallery; Karen Navarro, presented by Fotorelevance; Angela Blažanović, presented by Sid Motion, Marguerite Bornhauser, presented by Carlos Carvalho Arte Contemporânea; David Uzochukwu, presented by Galerie no.8; Ibrahim Ahmed, presented by Tintera; Ryoichi Fujisaki, presented by KANA KAWANISHI GALLERY; Kira Leskinen,  presented by Persons Projects

The jury is composed by Simone Klein – Former Global Director of Print Sales at Magnum Photos – and Sofia Vollmer de Maduro – Director of Education, Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach, collector and Curator Emeritus of the Alberto Vollmer Foundation collection – both part of the Photo London  Curatorial Committee. They are joined by Fiona Shields, Head of Photography at the Guardian.


Photo London

Announcing Karen Navarro participation in Photo London Fair Digital with Foto Relevance. Taking the lead to transition to digital Photo London Fair is the first international photography fair online. It brings together 104 exhibitors from 21 countries and offers a unique programme of digital events. The Fair will run from 7–18 October 2020, with two preview days on 5 and 6 October. 
Photo London Digital will take place on a platform built by the Fair’s digital partner, Artsy, and accessible both from the Photo London website and Artsy’s. 

Foto Relevance will present six photographers whose styles vary significantly within the genre of contemporary photography-based work. Each individual artist creates work in a unique style, ranging from traditional media combined with non-traditional subjects to techniques which utilize the physical deconstruction of images and their re-creation as 3D visual objects. In this curated selection, each artist revisits genres of still-life, portraiture, and performance in ways that consciously expand the boundaries of photography.

EXHIBITED ARTISTS
Margeaux Walter
Deborah Bay
Brenda Biondo
Robert Langham III
JP Terlizzi
Karen Navarro


Public Art Downtown Houston

There’s a new mural in town! 18 of them to be exact. Introducing WindowWorks, a public art initiative brought to you by the Downtown District. WindowWorks showcases the diversity and creativity found across The Lone Star State by transforming vacant and inactive storefronts along Main Street through bold, vibrant designs. In partnership with UP Art Studio, the program features the work of 18 Texas-based visual artists including Karen Navarro’s photography work. Check out Art Blocks to plan your self-guided tour.


Harpers Magazine, Musee Magazine, FireCracker, The Jealous Curator and more

Harper’s Magazine, “Fragment” alongside review of books. April printed issue

August: Musée Magazine, Weekend Portfolio feature

June: FireCracker online feature.” El Pertenecer en Tiempos Modernos” and “The Constructed Self”.

April: The Jealous Curator online feature. Recent works ”El Pertenecer en Tiempos Modernos” and “The Constructed Self”.

Commissioned piece for Paper City Magazine Houston - May printed issue “Hope”. Paired with Tom Ford.

April: on the Croatian News, VISURA 2020 Croatian Biennale

April: My virtual Blaffer. BLAFFER Art Museum

April: My virtual Blaffer. BLAFFER Art Museum

July: BEERS London feature

July: CAPITEL Mexico. Printed issue

July: The Asia Curator online interview. GOA, India

July: ARTCONNECT Magazine. Berlin, Germany


ARTnews Spring issue featuring Karen’s works and her fellowship with Artadia

Karen was recently invited to jury the Artadia Fellowship Houston 2020 and to continue to be involved in the program by being a mentor for the new rounds of fellows.
Read more about Karen’s recent Artadia fellowship and her role as a mentor on page 50-51 of ARTnews Spring issue 2020.

Claire Selvin wrote:
Karen Navarro was named a Houston Fellow just a few years after moving there from Buenos Aires, and will be a mentor for the program in 2020; she said the arrangement serves an important purpose in one of the most diverse cities in America. “It’s always good to have people who nurture your career,” she said. “Having recognition from a prestigious organization not only gives you validation; it motivates you to keep working more, because you know that the work you do– if you work hard– pays off.”


Contemporary Arts Museum Houston “Slowed and Throwed”

Slowed and Throwed: Records of the City Through Mutated Lenses
March 6–June 7, 2020

Karen Navarro is pleased to announce her participation in Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH) Slowed and Throwed: Records of the City Through Mutated Lenses, the first museum exhibition with a conceptual focus on the late Houston hip hop legend DJ Screw. The exhibition explores visual arts practices that parallel the musical methods of this innovative DJ and feature unconventional photography and new media works by artists with personal ties to Houston, including B. Anele, Rabéa Ballin, Tay Butler, Jimmy Castillo, Jamal Cyrus, Robert Hodge, Shana Hoehn, Tomashi Jackson, Ann Johnson, Devin Kenny, Liss LaFleur, Karen Navarro, Ayanna Jolivet Mccloud, Sondra Perry, and Charisse Pearlina Weston. 

The exhibition opens on the evening of Thursday, March 5, 2020 with a Members Preview from 6–7PM and a public opening from 7–9PM. The exhibition will remain on view through Sunday, June 7, 2020. As always, admission to CAMH is free.

Karen Navarro. Fragment, 2019. Archival inkjet print, wood, acrylic paint, and Epoxy. 48 x 56 inches. Courtesy the artist and Foto Relevance, Houston, Texas

Slowed and Throwed: Records of the City Through Mutated Lenses is a two- part interdisciplinary exhibition orbiting around the legacy of the late Houston legend DJ Screw. He produced his namesake sound, “chopped and screwed,” by using two turntables to slow down and layer hip hop tempos. The hallmarks of this technique—reducing pitch, slowing tempo, distorting input, and chopping lyrics to produce new meanings—have become synonymous with Houston hip hop, earning DJ Screw the nickname “The Originator.” Despite his untimely death at age 29 in 2000, the DJ and leader of Houston’s Screwed Up Click continues to influence artistic genres around the world.

In their photo-adjacent practices, the participating visual artists appropriate, mash-up, collage, and mutate photographic inputs, in addition to slowing time. Slowed and Throwed contends that remixing “sampled” materials is a radical aesthetic act utilized by both artists and musicians. Through reconfigurations of sourced and original materials, the featured artists draw attention to inequities stemming from race, gender, and sexual orientation, suggesting new possibilities and alternative realities. 

Slowed and Throwed is curated by Patricia Restrepo, Exhibitions Manager and Assistant Curator, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, with guest curators Big Bubb, Owner of Screwed Up Records & Tapes, and ESG, rapper and member of the Screwed Up Click. The exhibition is also made possible through the assistance of Research Advisors Julie Grob, Coordinator for Instruction and Curator of Houston Hip Hop Research Collection at the University of Houston Libraries, and Rocky Rockett, independent hip hop educator. 

Read more about the show here.

In the news: 

Spring’s best museum shows celebrate the influence of daring experimentalists.
Observer

The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston’s show immortalizes the late musician in his hometown.
Texas Monthly

FotoFest at CAMH gets Chopped and Screwed.
PaperCity Magazine

CAMH’s new show is screwed up—and that’s a good thing.

Top 5 | March 5, 2020 | Slowed and Throwed sits at #1
Glasstire

Observer

Texas Montly

PaperCity Magazine

CityBook Houston


Gallery Representation Announcement

Karen Navarro announces gallery representation by Foto Relevance

Press Release
For immediate release: 23/01/2020

Houston, Texas, January 23, 2020 – Karen Navarro (www.karennavarroph.com) is pleased to announce her representation by Foto Relevance (www.fotorelevance.com) in Houston. Foto Relevance exhibits contemporary photo-based art and provides a platform for an innovative selection of American and international photographic artists pushing the boundaries of photography. Foto Relevance is located in the Museum District in the Gallery Building at 4411 Montrose, Houston.

“I look forward to working with Foto Relevance, Geoffrey Koslov and Bryn Larsen, its founders, and owners, who are prime players in the Texas photographic world,” says Navarro. “The Gallery has established itself as one of the most relevant in the photography art scene in Houston. I am excited about this new collaboration.”

About the artist
Karen Navarro is an Argentine-born multidisciplinary artist currently living and working in Houston. Using a diverse array of mediums that include photography, collage, and sculpture, Navarro’s image-based work centers around the topic of identity. Trained as a fashion designer and photographer, the artist studied at the University of Buenos Aires and completed the certificate program in photography at Houston Center for Photography. Her constructed portraits are known for the use of color theory, surreal scenes, and minimalist details.

Navarro’s work has been exhibited in the US and abroad. Selected shows include Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH); Lawndale Art Center, Houston, USA; Elisabet Ney Museum, Austin, USA; Melkweg Expo, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Houston Center for Photography, Houston, USA; and Museo de la Reconquista, Tigre, Argentina. Navarro’s work has been featured in numerous publications, including SPOT MagazineAint—BadLenscratch, and Vogue Italia.

Navarro was awarded a scholarship from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Glassell School of Art in 2018 and an Artadia Fellowship in 2019. Her series El Pertenecer en Tiempos Moderns (Belonging in Modern Times) was selected for Photolucida’s 2019 Critical Mass Top 50. Recent projects include a public art commission from the City of Sugar Land and the curation of Alternate Pathways, a local exhibition at the Union TX sponsored by the Houston Arts Alliance and Fresh Arts.


City of Sugar Land commissioned Karen Navarro a Public Art Project

The City of Sugar Land has collaborated with community partners to create an outdoor and online exhibition celebrating its history and people. The project features oral histories and fine art portraits taken by regional artist Karen Navarro. 

This project will be added to Sugar Land’s historical archive and it celebrates those with compelling connection to the early history- and modern history of Sugar Land. The 30 participants have a particularly compelling connection to Sugar Land—perhaps they are a community leader, business leader, civic leader, long-standing resident or have a unique perspective of the history of the City.

For this project the City has  partner with the Fort Bend Historical Commission and the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation , and the project was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.  




Alternate Pathways Opening Reception

Alternate Pathways’s opening reception took place yesterday at the Union TX with a turn out of over a hundred people in attendance. Alternate Pathways is an exhibition co-organized and co-curated by Karen Navarro and Luisa Duarte. It is funded in part by the City Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs through Houston Arts Alliance. And, it’s a sponsored project of Fresh Arts, a non-profit arts service organization.

Surpassing Limits through Alternate Pathways by Surpik Angelini. (excerpt)

For the first round, Navarro and Duarte invited a mixed media artist, Celan Bouillet; a painter of sculptural shaped canvases, Eduardo Portillo; and an artist and illustrator Hedwige Jacobs to join them in this project, thus bringing together representatives from three countries as distant and different from theirs as the US, El Salvador and The Netherlands.
Beyond the issues of “displacement, attachment to place, imaginary homelands, place making, the construction of identity and belonging,” which the group identified as a common ground, I believe that the way they surpassed the limits of the Modernist aesthetic inherited from the past, seems to speak to a grander scheme of things, while it also underlies their work in more significant ways.
Surpassing limits rather than simply choosing alternate pathways may seem inconsequential at first, but in my mind it helps focus our attention to how the artists have responded to two opposing forces impacting the development of contemporary art in the last twenty-five years. Globalization alone fostered an intense traffic of culture from the First World to developing countries, or simply from centers to peripheries, carrying with it, in all instances and everywhere, the imposition of Modernism as a lingua franca in the arts. The second force shaping the art of our times is a phenomena called “the ethnographic turn” since the 90”s, which injected local flavor, subjective specificity, and more importantly, a meaningful historical and cultural contextualization of the art produced in different parts of the world. The result of these two seminal forces is that most contemporary works today embody artists’ own micro narratives which counteract the master narrative prevalent in Modernist forms of expression. Therefore, with this framework in mind, I would like to address how each one of the artists in the present exhibition contests the inherited Modernist cannon in their own art. 

To make images appear and disappear, to simulate and dissimulate visual effects through constructive and deconstructive methods would describe Karen Navarro’s artistic process. Her departure from stereotypical photographic portraits of her subjects is rendered by cutting and reassembling their facial features, intervening them with superimposed geometric matrixes. Her deconstructive methods make images almost unrecognizable, reaching invisibility at times. Navarro’s work implies that identity is in fact a social construct, as she parodies the digitally deforming effects of apps like Snap Chat, face changer, faceapp, all of which fulfill the growing need of people to be recognized, or to be accepted in a certain social category, symbolized by their obsessive use of hash tags.”


TOP 50 Critical Mass

Navarro’s series El Pertenecer en Tiempos Modernos (Belonging in Modern Times) was selected for the Critical Mass TOP 50 (2019). Critical Mass is an annual online program that makes connections within the photography community. It is ran by Photolucida, a non- profit organization that support and promote the work of emerging and mid-career photographers.

Through a pre-screening process, the field is narrowed to a group of 200 finalists who go on to have their work viewed and voted on by over 200 esteemed international photography professionals. From the finalist group, the Top 50 are named and a series of awards are given. See the series here


Alternate Pathways Opening Reception

Alternate Pathways Opening Reception OCTOBER 19, 2019 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM | 2315 Union Street, Houston, Texas 77007.

Alt Projects is pleased to present Alternate Pathways, an artist-centered and driven group exhibition. An event that highlights the diversity of both Houston and the artists involved.  The show will feature the works of visual artist Luisa Duarte, mixed media artist Celan Bouillet, fine art photographer Karen Navarro, painter of sculptural shaped canvases Eduardo Portillo, and artist and illustrator Hedwige Jacobs.

Opening reception RSVP here

The show runs until November 22th, by appointment only.

Artists talk and brunch: Sunday October 27th, 1-3 PM at the Union. Free and open to the public.


Using Format