An exhibition of photographs by Texas native John Christian is on view at the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection at The University of Texas at Austin.
“A Journey to Uxáta/Un Viaje a Uxáta: A Photographic Documentation of Northern Mexico” features work from decades of travel by Christian to the Zacatecas region of Mexico.
The exhibition of black-and-white images represents a portion of a much larger body of work still in progress and is a continuation of photography and research initiated years ago in the Huastecan geographic area of eastern Mexico, as well as in central Mexico and other areas. The photographs encompass a large region across the states of Nuevo León and Coahuila of northeastern Mexico, through the Chihuahuan Desert–one of the most sacred places of the Huichol cosmological world–and farther to the west, to Uxáta, on the Continental Divide near the Tropic of Cancer.
A native of Sherman, Texas, and son of a mining engineer, Christian spent his early years in Mexico City and in several mining districts in and around central Mexico.
A fortuitous gift from his parents in the form of a Kodak Duaflex box camera developed Christian’s interest in photography. Influenced by German photographer Hugo Brehme, Christian later came to admire the work of Edward Weston, Tina Modotti and Manuel Alvarez.
Primarily self-taught, Christian immersed himself in photography by attending lectures and exhibits, and by visiting darkrooms of photographer friends, including Russell Lee, Jim Bones and Bill Wittliff.
His works have appeared in Texas Monthly, Popular Photography, The San Francisco Review of Art, Cuartoscuro and Mexico Desconocido. In 1976, he was a recipient of a University of Texas at Austin Dobie Paisano Fellowship for his documentary work on the Vixár-rika, the Huichol Indians.
An opening reception for the exhibition will be held on Thursday, Oct. 23, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection in Sid Richardson Hall.
“Un Viaje a Uxáta” will be on view at the Benson Collection through January 2009.