Playing House: Contested Connections

Curated by Althea Ruoppo
April 9 – May 15, 2016

Playing House: Contested Connections brings together the work of six Texas artists, three from Houston and three from San Antonio, who explore issues surrounding the domestic sphere and the emotional connotations we attach to it. Through examples of photography, painting, and three dimensional works, each artist examines the ways in which place, space, and identity intertwine from their own perspective. Psychological connections as referenced in the work are noticeably contested; they are at times anonymous and ambiguous, distant and removed, intensely personal and intimate, or critical and stereotypical.

Althea Ruoppo is Curatorial Assistant, Contemporary Art and Special Projects, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Before coming to the MFAH, Althea was the Semmes Intern in Museum Studies at the McNay Art Museum. Previously, she held curatorial positions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts. A native of Connecticut, Althea holds a B.A. from Providence College and a M.A. from Boston University, both in art history.

PLAYhouse Contested Connections

The artists included in the show:

Tess Martinez constructs provocative photographic portraits in which the subject is turned away from the camera, forcing the viewer to make assumptions about the anonymous individual based on his or her surroundings, clothing, and posture. Martinez received her BFA in Photography from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2005. Since 2010 she has held the position of Visual Arts Director at Providence Catholic School in San Antonio. In 2015 Martinez was awarded “Best Thematic Development” by FotoSeptiembre USA SAFOTO for her solo exhibition, Nothing Behind, Everything Ahead, As is Ever So, at REM Gallery in San Antonio.

Taking mirror self-portraits from social media, Jack McGilvray erases the subject while leaving the empty mirror as a potential space of self-reflection for the observer. McGilvray earned a BFA in Photography from Texas State University in 2010 and a MFA in Photography and Integrated Media from Ohio University in 2013. She currently serves as Exhibitions and Programs Manager at Blue Star Contemporary in San Antonio. McGilvray has participated in recent group exhibitions at French & Michigan Gallery, FotoFest and Houston Center for Photography, and the McNay Art Museum, among others. McGilvray’s solo exhibition, Maybe it was all a dream, is currently on view at Haus Collective in San Antonio.

Kallie Pfeiffer’s large-scale photographic installations have deep roots in surrealism and the decadent excess of vanitas still life and baroque performance. Her spatially-invasive spectacles highlight the hyperemotional space that exists between people in a relationship. Pfeiffer received a BFA in Photography from Trinity University in 2013, and will graduate this May with a MFA in Photography from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Pfeiffer recently had a solo exhibition, Pageant Wounds, at Terminal 136 in San Antonio, and was included in group exhibitions at Rockport Center for the Arts and the San Antonio Art League Museum.

New paintings from Cary Reeder’s ongoing Neighborhood Series document disappearing bungalows and other historic structures in Houston, using them as vehicles to present themes of loss and secrecy. Reeder completed her fine arts training at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Glassell School of Art. In 2013, she had her first solo show at Lawndale Art Center, a two-person exhibition at the University of Houston-Downtown, and received an Individual Artist Grant from the Houston Arts Alliance. Reeder teaches at Art League Houston and the Glassell School of Art. Her neighborhood paintings are featured in the spring 2016 edition of Acrylic Artist Magazine.

In new paintings based on intimate family photographs, Camille Warmington explores aspects of personal memory and shared experience. Warmington earned a Bachelor of Interior Architecture from Kansas State University in 1984, and studied painting at the Glassell School of Art from 1994-2014. She has exhibited in a number of juried exhibitions, including the Houston Area Exhibition 2000 at the Blaffer Art Museum, and the 2013 Big Show at Lawndale Art Center, where she had her first solo exhibition, The Beauty is Broken, in 2015. Warmington is a 2016 Hunting Prize finalist.

In the series Let’s Talk About Lady Stuff, Elise Weber explores notions of female identity, domesticity, and body positivity through plush figures modeled after vintage dammit dolls. Weber received her BFA from Sam Houston State University in 2014, and will graduate with a MFA from
the University of Houston in 2017. She has been included in numerous group exhibitions in both Houston and Huntsville, most recently at FotoFest and the Houston Center for Photography, the Blaffer Art Museum, DiverseWorks, and Lawndale Art Center, where she received The Big Show Juried Award in 2014.