Kiwanis Club of Houston
May 5th Luncheon
Speaker: Wendy Watriss
Ms. Watriss is a prizewinning international photojournalist, writer and co-founder-director of FotoFest International, one of the world’s leading photographic arts and education organizations. With her partner Frederick Baldwin, she created the first international Biennial of Photography in the U.S. Based in Houston, FotoFest has brought artists and audiences from around the world to the city since 1986. As artistic and publications director, she has curated and organized more than sixty international exhibitions, which have traveled from Houston, to Latin America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East as well as numerous museums in the U.S., including the Smithsonian. She has been the guest curator of international exhibitions for the Guangzhou Photo Biennial at the Guangdong Museum of Art in China and has directed art programs in Paris, Beijing, Mexico City, Brasilia, Havana, Abu Dhabi and Moscow.
With FotoFest, she has promoted Houston as a leading center for the visual arts. The FotoFest Biennial is widely known for its discovery of important artists and the high quality of its public art presentations. Public attendance at FotoFest’s six-week Biennials in Houston is 250,000 people; media coverage reaches over 20 million people internationally. In addition to its art programs, FotoFest runs a year-round, in-school education program, Learning Through Photography, with 2,000 students annually in the Houston area schools; it is considered one of the leading U.S. programs using visual art to strengthen student writing and cognitive skills.
Ms. Watriss conceived and produced for FotoFest the award-winning, ground-breaking book Image and Memory: Photography from Latin America, 1866–1994 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998). She has co-produced and co-edited the book View from Inside: Contemporary Arab Photography, Video and Mixed Media Art (Amsterdam: Schilt Publishing, 2014) and Changing Circumstances: Looking at the Future of the Planet (Amsterdam: Schilt Publishing, 2016).
Ms. Watriss’s own photography has been widely exhibited internationally; her photo documentary essays have been published in national and international publications such as the New York Times, Stern, Life, GEO, The Smithsonian, Newsweek and many others. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the World Press Photo News Feature of the Year Award; the Oskar Barnack Award (Leica); InterPressFoto Award; and Mid-America Arts Alliance/National Endowment for the Arts Award. She has been granted a Humanities Fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation in 1976 and a Research Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1978.
For the creation and management of FotoFest, she and Frederick Baldwin have been recipients of many a3ards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Media Photographers; the Icon of Photography Award from the national Society of Photographic Education; Vision Award from the Center for Photography at Woodstock (New York) in recognition of their contributions to photography in the U.S. and abroad. Her photographic work is represented in many public collections, including the Menil Collection and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin; the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas; the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris; and the Musée de la Photographie, Charleroi, Belgium.
She was born in San Francisco, California, and lives in Houston, Texas.