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Arthur Tress: Mexico 1964-65

"Mayan Musician, Tenejapa, Chiapas, 1965" by Arthur Tress

June 10, 2019- December 6, 2020. Curated by David L. Coleman

This exhibition highlights the early career of noted American photographer Arthur Tress.  Tress grew up in New York City and took up photography at a very young age.  After graduating from Bard College in 1962 with a degree in painting, he travelled extensively, including a lengthy stay in Mexico starting in October 1963.

Tress enrolled in art school in San Miguel de Allende and he became fascinated with cultural rituals throughout Mexico.  Much of this imagery features Catholic parades and carnivals in Mexico City and Mérida, as well as the spring ceremonies of the Tzeltal people, descendants of the Maya who lived in the highlands of Chiapas in the village of Tenejapa.  This focus on myth and mystery blossomed in Tress’ later work, which featured “staged” and composed photographs of fantasies, dreamscapes and other tales from the unconscious. 

Tress used a documentary approach to his early work, and a great deal of his imagery from his worldwide travels reveals a young artist fascinated by the people he encountered in city streets and markets, always with a sensitive eye for striking or surprising scenes.