Colby Deal is a photographic artist born and raised in Houston, Texas and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in the practice of photography from The University of Houston. Deal was recently inducted in the Magnum Photo agency for his ventures in documentary photography, joining many of the greats we admire today. He is an alumni of Project Row Houses residency, Red Line Contemporary Art Center residency in Denver, Colorado and has recently been awarded an exhibition at the Houston Museum of African American Culture. His most recent accomplishment of being invited to the 2021 Whitney Biennial in New York City is a feat he is most proud of.
Within his practice he explores the culmination of elements of the psychological environment as well as the physical. He shows the dynamic range of family, community and the individual by combining street photography and portraiture to capture vibrant communities. In the recent years he has incorporated the medium of sculpture and public art as a means of preserving cultural characteristics that are being erased and positively influencing his community and others alike. Colby is directly inspired by his upbringing through getting to see his family’s photographs that were mostly taken by his father. This appreciation for slowing down and concentrating on photographing what’s right in front of him, “The Now”, has led him to be more in touch with using analog photography.
Under sourced communities and people of color are under explicit cultural erasure, through photography and a family of mediums I preserve these cultural characteristics that are being erased. The process of preservation serves as a vehicle from present to past through a creation of experiences. The texture of an elegant dress helps mother reflect on her childhood and now she’s prompted of pearls to pass onto her daughter, a father informs his son about land ownership after viewing a photograph of an abandoned house, a piece of furniture reminds a grandchild of how grandmother took care of the entire family in her tiny home; place a piece of this art in the proper area of a community, self-appreciation and positive influence increases, and possibly the revenue of a small business next door because of curious traffic from social media postings.
Each of those experiences endorse the future as a result of the past. In the age of imagery and information leading the forefront of altering humanity, the psychological effect of perpetuating practical narratives of a culture fuels my curiosity to search for and present the most accurate one. A communal repertoire and visual bond are executed through lens-based work, while the root concept of preservation is carried out with each individual presentation of the lens-based work. The qualities of imagery and presentation are crucial when conducting interactive studies in a community to observe the psychosis of society based on imagery and placement.
Release Date: July 30, 2021
This image is a representation of a memory I often witnessed and enjoyed as a child. My father and Uncle both photographed as young men and I would sit and look at the photographs they took. I created this image from the times when I enjoy watching them play chess, have drinks and talk about life.
Father & Uncle, 2017
Release Date: February 25, 2022
I met Miss Shirley along one of my photographing walks one day in 2017. She became like a third Grandmother throughout our time getting to know each other. This portrait is incredibly special to me because it was a turning point in my career as a fine art photographer and my purpose as an artist. I invited her to the exhibition where I showed her portrait, and she began to cry.
Miss Shirley, 2017