Arts / Museums

Chasing Clouds

This Montrose Art Maestro Exposes the Spirits Underneath

BY Kate Hinnant // 01.27.16

Syd Moen never imagined she would be able to make a living as a photographer. It was simply a hobby, but an expensive one, so she never pursued it in a serious way. But then the digital era arrived, and her world changed.

Moen, a Houston native who grew up in Montrose and studied architecture at University of Houston, is now known for her photographs referred to as “Little Planets,” a unique style of work that incorporates 360-degree perspective.

“I consider myself an artist before a photographer,” Moen says. “I’ve always had a vision in my mind, but it’s how to make it work that is the challenge.”

She plans her photographs according to three key components: 1) Have an interesting sky — “I am always chasing clouds in my work.” 2) Have a focal point; And 3) Have an intriguing foreground. If you can at least accomplish two of the three keys, the picture is in good shape, Moen notes.

Moen also collaborates with other talents to produce public spectacles and installations. Her most recent project in this direction was for SITE (Silos Installation Transdisciplinary Exhibition) at the Washington Avenue Arts District historic silos, which she co-produced with Gary Watson. The work examined the Riviana Rice facility’s agrarian heritage.

“Change of Perspective,” Moen’s exhibition (March 3 at The Houston Club) for FotoFest, will showcase her digitally manipulated panoramic photographs. The show will feature a variety of Houston spots, including her latest image, taken from the dizzying perspective of the One Shell Plaza roof.

“I suppose what I’m striving for in my art is a crossroads between reality and surrealism,” Moen says. “In this series I present an unusual or nonhuman perspective in an effort to expose the spirit and purpose underneath the physical world. My ultimate goal is to enlist the viewer as a collaborator, allowing them to control the significance of what they see.”

Moen’s latest project takes her into the fashion world, via images emblazoned on silk scarfs. She and several other Spring Street artists have collaborated with RozeNdove to create a miniature world you can wear around your neck. The line also includes pocket squares.

“Throughout the years I have experimented with numerous artistic media. However, I always come back to photography as the core resource for my self-expression,” Moen writes. “In creating a stereographic projection, I use my experience in photographic imagery and spatial thinking. I am interested in the physical world and in magnifying the abstractions and juxtapositions found within it.”

She’s an artist whose work is well worth knowing.

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