From March 14 to May 11, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston will present the 160th installment in it Perspectives series, Class Pictures: Photographs by Dawoud Bey. Organized by the Aperture Foundation, a not-for-profit organization devoted to photography and the visual arts, Class Pictures is comprised of large-scale portraits of American teenagers that refute false stereotypes and reveal the individual strengths of this age group.
“The powerful images of Dawoud Bey display the personalities of young adults that could not be more different from the depictions of teenagers we’re accustomed to seeing in the media,” said Contemporary Arts Museum Houston Curator Valerie Cassel Oliver. “These photographs reveal the depth of character and vulnerability that exist in real-life teenagers from our own families and communities.”
For this exhibition, Bey photographed young adults from all parts of the economic, racial, and ethnic spectrum in both public and private high schools in Detroit; Chicago; Lawrence and Andover, Mass.; Orlando; San Francisco; and New York City. Bey spent three to four weeks in each school, taking formal portraits of individual students, each made in a classroom or other school setting during one forty-five-minute period.
“Not only does this exhibition reinforce our commitment to bringing important artists to Houston, it also reflects our commitment to young audiences,” said Interim Director Linda Shearer. “From our innovative Teen Council program to our biennial exhibition of work by area high school students, the CAMH has been supporting intelligent and creative young people for many years.”
The Teen Council, a group of highly motivated high school students employed by the Museum to design public programs specifically for teenagers, is organizing an exhibition of Polaroid photography by local teenagers that will run concurrently with Class Pictures. The Teen Council’s exhibition, Polarized, will be on view in the Cullen Education Resource Room from March 7 to May 11.
Dawoud Bey (born 1953, New York) earned his MFA from Yale University School of Art and is professor of photography at Columbia College Chicago. He has been featured in numerous exhibitions—including a mid-career survey at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, in 1995—and has received several awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellowship.