The first and longest-running photographic arts festival in the United States, FotoFest Biennial, was held in 1986. It is considered one of the leading international photography biennials in the world. This Saturday, March 14, two neighboring Heights venues will host exhibitions.
It was 2016 when I first stumbled across an exhibit inside A 2nd Cup’s coffee shop and saw Eric Hartley’s exhibit for FotoFest. The biennial event is back and Hartley sent me a note about this year’s exhibit at A 2nd Cup, which Hartley has helped organized. It’s called, “Let Them Be Free,” and more information is available at ArtForTheCity.org.
“Because this year FotoFest is on Africa and it’s diaspora, we had a local photographer from Nigeria, Deji Osinulu, jury the exhibit,” Hartley said.
“Let Them Be Free” was inspired by the themes for FotoFest 2020. A 2nd Cup has always been about the themes of this year’s FotoFest – rights, liberty and representation.
Focusing on combating human trafficking, A 2nd Cup was created to provide an avenue for generating awareness of human trafficking in Houston and working toward the abolition of slavery in our city.
It also is developing resources that help create a second chance for survivors, which is why this year’s show is benefiting Brazen Table, a culinary training program for human trafficking survivors. (Details on Brazen table can be found online at http://www.a2ndcup.com/brazen-table.)
Osinulu, the juror, is a professional photographer who grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, in a family of photography lovers. He moved to Houston in 1996 to attend graduate school and has made Houston home ever since. He got back into photography about 15 years ago after buying an old camera off a friend, and what started as a hobby soon became a full-time profession.
Osinulu is currently working on a project called Pluribus, a series of portraits exploring questions surrounding the phrase “e pluribus unum.”
A statement released by A 2nd Cup says, “Since almost all of us either descend from immigrants or are immigrants, what does it mean to assimilate vs. integrate? What is gained by or lost in that process to each succeeding generation from the generations that came before them? While our exhibit is open to all photographers about the contexts of their choosing, these perspectives make Osinulu the perfect juror for FotoFest 2020, which is focusing on artists of Africa and its diaspora.”
The photo exhibit at Vineyard Church is titled “Invited to Freedom,” and includes works by Houston photographers Angela Nash, Paula Hammon and Timbergrove Manor resident Penny Robinson.
For more FotoFest events, visit fotofest.org.
Cohen is an artist and founder of First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at ArtValet.com.