Houston-based artist 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 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. “There is an alluring, haunting, presence in Amy Blakemore’s photographs; a combined sense of immediacy and distance that is persistent and paradoxically transitory,” said Glen Gentele, OKCMOA president and CEO. “It is a great pleasure to present this illuminating exhibition of her work at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.”
Blakemore was originally trained in documentary traditions. In the mid 1980s, she 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 figure—whether randomly captured or formally posed.
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.
A fully illustrated catalogue, titled Amy Blakemore: Photographs 1988–2008, accompanies this exhibition. The book includes essays by Alison de Lima Greene, MFAH curator of art and special projects; Anne Wilkes Tucker, the Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator of Photography at the MFAH; Chrissie Iles, curator, the Whitney Museum of American Art; and Marisa Sánchez, assistant curator of contemporary art at the Seattle Art Museum.
Amy Blakemore: Photographs 1988–2008 has been organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.