The William R. Jenkins Architecture, Design, and Art Library is pleased to present American Geographic by student artist Tay Butler. The opening reception will be held on Friday, February 1 at 5 p.m., with light refreshments. The exhibit will be on view through April 2019, and is free and open to the public.
Butler is an undergraduate student in Photography and Digital Media at the University of Houston. With an expected graduation date of May 2019 and intentions to continue studies, Butler is consistently building a portfolio of work and exhibitions that include spaces all over Houston, Texas, such as the Blaffer Art Museum, Texas Art Asylum, and Noble Artisan.
A 20-year retired Army veteran with a background in power plant engineering, Butler completely transformed his life by walking away from a well-paying occupation in search of purpose and self-expression. Acknowledging the 2014 death of Mike Brown as the catalyst, he began his journey backwards into the archives of black history; including that of his own family. With a 23-hour U-Haul truck expedition through the snowstorms of Wisconsin to Houston, Butler began his studies at UH in the fall of 2015.
Initially choosing graphic design as a possible career path, Butler soon uncovered a deep love for photography. Studying the likes of Gordon Parks, Irving Penn, and Carrie Mae Weems led him to the work of his biggest influences, Lorna Simpson and Romare Bearden, where his obsession with collage was born. He soon began combining original photography of Milwaukee with found images of people of color to reframe his memory of home. When not exploring his past landscapes visually, he confronted his hometown’s history through media archives. Acknowledging a need for community, Butler began to do the very same in his new home of Houston.