Geoff Winningham

reception benefiting Rice Design Alliance

of the soil

art reception: thursday, march 27, 6-8pm

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Of the Soil
photographs of vernacular architecture and stories of changing times in Arkansas

Geoff Winningham

Dog trot houses, octagonal barns, and one-of-a-kind hog houses: local buildings remembered by local people
In 1980, photographer Geoff Winningham and architect Cyrus Sutherland traveled extensively throughout Arkansas to locate and photograph examples of southern American vernacular architecture. They were working on a commission from the First Federal Savings and Loan of Arkansas, and after a year they had finished their project. But, with their interest piqued and enjoying their collaboration, they continued on their own in hopes of amassing a collection of photography of vernacular architecture from every region of the state.
For two more years, Sutherland continued helping Winningham find the finest examples of vernacular architecture in the state. By 1983, Winningham had photographed over 3,000 structures, but he eventually put the collection aside and moved on to other projects.
Three decades later, Winningham reopened his archive of Arkansas photographs, found his interest rekindled, and decided to return to the sites of the structures he had photographed. Most of the buildings, he discovered, had disappeared due to fires, storms, or neglect. But, while Winningham was unable to find many of the structures he had photographed, what he did find were local people who remembered them. The stories of these local people join the original photographs in Of the Soil in a remarkable fusion that shows us much about the culture of the American South.
Geoff Winningham holds the Lynette S. Autrey Chair in the Humanities at Rice University, where he has taught since 1969. He has published ten books, including, most recently, Going Back to Galveston: Nature, Funk and Fantasy in a Favorite Place. His photographs are in many collections, including the Museum of Modern Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Boston Museum of Fine Arts; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Wittliff Collections, Texas State University, San Marcos, Tx.

"The true basis for any serious study of the art of Architecture still lies in those indigenous, more humble buildings everywhere that are to architecture what folklore is to literature or folk song to music and with which academic architects were seldom concerned.
These many folk structures are of the soil, natural. Though often slight, their virtue is intimately related to the environment and to the heartlife of the people. Functions are usually truthfully conceived and rendered invariably with natural feeling. Results are often beautiful and always instructive."

Frank Lloyd Wright
from The Sovereignty of the Individual


ongoing exhibit spaces outside the gallery

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spa 1107 van buren houston, texas 77019