Arts / Galleries

Photographer Rooted in Texas-Mexico Border Captures Overlooked Moments — Marisa Cigarroa Heymach Embraces the Surprises

More Than 40 Years In Photography and a New Houston Show

BY William Hanhausen // 12.09.23

Marisa Cigarroa Heymach’s photography — showcased in private collections, juried exhibits, a new online gallery and a Houston show that opens this Saturday, December 9 — demonstrates the value that she finds in everyday life. This rising photographer in the Houston art scene refuses to be confined by genre or trademark style. Heymach engages in photojournalism, street and nature photography, and abstract imagery. Her resistance to constraints stems from a desire to remain free, exploratory and curious.

“There is so much to see and respond to on any given day, and knowing this keeps my eyes and my heart open,” Heymach says. “When I miss an action shot, or don’t have time to stop and take a photograph of something that caught my attention, I don’t get upset.

“Instead, I enjoy the moment for what it was, fully knowing there will be many more surprises around the corner. That’s how life is too.”

A photographer deeply rooted in the Texas-Mexico border, Heymach has crafted her art around capturing the essence of overlooked moments. Her work, marked by a deep commitment to openness and observation, reflects a dedication to widening people’s perspectives.

Marisa Heymach's "The Watering Spot," 2019 (Courtesy Marisa Heymach)
Marisa Heymach’s “The Watering Spot,” 2019 (Courtesy Marisa Heymach)

As a Mexican-American who grew up in Laredo, Heymach credits her bicultural upbringing for shaping her ability to appreciate things from a variety of angles. From a very young age, she recognized how people can have very different lives simply by being born on the north or south side of the Rio Grande. At the same time, she also observed many commonalities that unite us.

“I learned through personal interactions on both sides of the border that wisdom comes in many forms and can be found in many places,” Heymach says. “When we widen our scope and are receptive, our horizons are expanded.”

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Marisa Cigarroa Heymach’s vocation in photography began by exploring simple subjects she found at her personal universe — the long shadows cast by her bicycle in the afternoon, the changing light filtering through her living room curtain at different times of the day — and challenging herself to see familiar things in new ways. Her camera became an entry point to cross cultural explorations.

She went on to pursue an undergraduate degree in archaeology from Harvard in 1989, a master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Texas in 1991, and a master’s degree in print journalism from the University of California at Berkeley in 1993. Subsequently, Heymach worked as a reporter at the Marin Independent Journal and the Stanford News Service.

With more than 40 years in photography, Heymach brings a journalistic eye to her imagery. She believes that a photograph serves as a silent invitation for viewers to reflect on the parts of an image that are salient to them. To her, the final image is just a starting point for a wider exploration of ourselves.

“I hope to inspire viewers to add more serendipity to their daily lives so that they too can begin to see their environment and themselves in new ways,” Heymach says.

Marisa Heymach's "Alone, Together" 2019 (Courtesy Marisa Heymach)
Marisa Heymach’s “Alone, Together” 2019 (Courtesy Marisa Heymach)

To really see something takes time — a lesson Heymach learned early in life with the help of her camera. While raising her five children, she intentionally carved out time for photography by integrating the practice into her daily routine.

Now that she is an empty nester, Heymach is turning her attention towards getting more of her work featured in various shows and collections. She is also beginning to explore galleries where she can showcase and sell her work.

Heymach’s camerawork has been exhibited at the Houston Center for Photography, The Big Show at the Lawndale Art Center, and the Advocates of a Latino Museum of Cultural and Visual Arts & Archive Complex in Houston, Harris County (ALMAAHH) “We Are Houston” show. Her photos were included in the Archway Gallery’s 15th Annual Juried Exhibit this past summer, and she was recently added as a member artist on the University of Houston’s interactive and portable digital board, Latino cARTographies Immersive Experience, which features the social and geographic landscape of visual Latino art.

Marisa Heymach's "Limbo," 2021 (Courtesy Marisa Heymach)
Marisa Heymach’s “Limbo,” 2021 (Courtesy Marisa Heymach)

Her photographs are displayed in private collections in California, Houston, Laredo and Austin, where the former UT chancellor Dr. Francisco Gonzalez Cigarroa resided during his term. She has also auctioned her art to benefit the Rio Grande International Center, Rexanna’s Foundation for Fighting Lung Cancer, Laredo Center for the Arts and Laredo College.

Marisa Heymach will showcase her most recent nature images at the gallery Art For You 1717 in The Mosaic at 5925 Almeda Road. The exhibition opens this Saturday, December 9 from 7 pm to 10 pm. To attend, an RSVP is required through Heymach at ( 713) 320-7633. The exhibition will be on view through next Saturday, December 16. 

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