Foley Gallery is pleased to present Colby Katz “Beauty Pageants,” and Sarah Wilson “Blind Prom,” two concurrent exhibitions of documentary photography and formal portraiture.
While many children spend their Saturdays and Sundays indulging freely in games of tag and make believe, a few are on the road, marched and marching tall into a cutthroat industry of adorable. For the last five years, photographer Colby Katz has been documenting the behind the scenes, and the scenes of child beauty pageants. Her long focus on this project comes as Katz herself was entered into pageants as a young girl.
As a fine art and documentary photographer Katz has often thrown her spotlight on subcultures, from the oddities of sideshow performers and blitzing of the paparazzi, to the blind liberty of nudists and quirk of small town beauty pageants. Subcultures we may gape and marvel at from afar yet rarely are allowed to survey from within. Katz’s “Beauty Pageants” series permits us an insider’s view, inside hotel rooms, elevators and hallways where teeny-tot contestants are being fussed and fawned over, preened and perfected, hair-sprayed and spray-tanned by a swarm of proud, ambitious mothers.
Colby Katz received her BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her work has appeared in books, magazines and has been internationally exhibited at such spaces as The National Portrait Gallery in London, FOAM Fotografiemuseum in Amsterdam, and The Lennox Contemporary in Toronto. Colby currently lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
For the students at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, prom night is a momentous occasion. Since the spring season of 2006, Sarah Wilson has offered her professional services as the prom photographer for TSBVI. She marks, “From the moment the girls began trying on their dresses in the dorm rooms, till the last dance at midnight, I was there taking pictures, fully immersed in a familiar teenage excitement and energy. For many of the kids this was the most formal event they had ever attended. It was Prom, and it was a big deal.”
Sarah Wilson was introduced to the blind community in 2005 when she began working as a stills photographer and field producer on the PBS-funded film, The Eyes of Me, a documentary about four students attending the Texas School for the Blind in Austin, Texas. Springing from her immersion into this film’s new company, Wilson’s own series, “Blind Prom,” focuses on an American right of passage, the high school prom. Throughout the night she captures candid moments of the prom attendees, while producing their formal portraits. These rich, full-color images express the joy and spirit of, the thrill and intensity for a group of marginalized teens participating in the universal experience of attending a formal prom.
Sarah Wilson received her degree in photography from New York University. She was awarded the 2008 PhotoNOLA Review Prize from The New Orleans Photo Alliance for “Blind Prom.” Her personal projects have been published in Texas Monthly, and exhibited at galleries nationwide, including the White Box Gallery in New York City. Wilson currently lives in Austin, Texas.