The Fourth Ward Photo Parlour

Texas • Willow Naomi Curry, Tiffany Smith


About the project

The Fourth Ward Photo Parlour is a collaboration between curator Willow Naomi Curry and photographer Tiffany Smith centered on Houston’s Freedmen’s Town/Fourth Ward. Drawing inspiration from the Teal Portrait Studio, established in the Fourth Ward in 1919 by Elnora and Arthur C. Teal and operating for over 40 years, the Parlour eschews the respectability politics inherent in the idea of “humanizing” Black folks to wider audiences. Candid pictures taken by community members will be displayed alongside regal studio portraits of those community members taken by Tiffany, with archival photos interspersed throughout. This mixing of eras and styles emphasizes the continuity between the Black past and present, and the beauty and significance of existing outside of establishment valuations.


About the Artists


Willow Naomi Curry is a writer and social practice curator-artist from Houston, Texas. Her work combines her writing and artistic practice with a desire to build socially just, equitable communities. Willow was awarded the City of Houston’s Support for Artists and Creative Individuals Grant (2018) and DiverseWorks’ inaugural Project Freeway Fellowship (2019) for two cross-disciplinary projects focused on historically Black Houston neighborhoods, on which she is currently at work.


Tiffany Smith is an interdisciplinary artist from the Caribbean diaspora working in photography, video, installation, and design. Using plant matter, home decor design, pattern, and costuming as cultural signifiers, Tiffany creates photographic portraits, site responsive installations, and assemblages. Her work interrogates what forms and defines communities and people of color, how they are identified and represented, and how they endure. Tiffany is a 2018 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Interdisciplinary Work.