Suggesting a lean-to and other temporary forms shelter, Anderson-Staley’s installation carves out a narrow, intimate interior space, while its portrait-covered exterior represents the public and the individuals that make up a city. Viewers are invited to crawl into the cozy interior space to hang out and view the abstract compositions and portraits that are installed inside of the shelter. Hundreds of tintype portraits are featured, most of them made in Houston, including at Project Row Houses, University of Houston, Diverseworks, and at the artist’s studio. Each tintype plate is a powerful portrait of an individual and the entire piece is a portrait of the broader community. The installation is an expression of community as a form of shelter and the uniqueness of individuals. Hung unframed in an expansive salon-grouping as family portraits might be, the tintypes seem precarious and exposed, suggesting our collective fragility and vulnerability in the face of natural and environmental catastrophe.
A house-like structure that Anderson-Staley installed outdoors in 2018 in the train shed at the Silos was a jumping off point for this project. That piece has traveled to the Shelburne Museum of Art in Vermont where it will be on view this fall. None of the images on that house are a part of this exhibition which presents an entirely different slice of Houston’s diverse communities. Anderson-Staley, whose home and studio were flooded by Hurricane Harvey, constructed the first iteration of Shelter in Place in the aftermath of the storm as a testament to Houston’s strength and resilience. Larger in scale, and incorporating dozens of portraits made in the past couple years, the Space HL installation marks the passing of the second anniversary of the storm and the continued presence of its effects in our lives.
This project is funded in part by the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance.