I was commissioned by the Houston Arts Foundation, the great institution that tasked herself to preserve public works of art in our city. The Foundation wanted photographs that will illuminate the "hidden" sculptures in Houston. Working with a small group of people who love and are extremely proud of our city, led by Heidi Vaughn and Chris Hill, we conjured up a two-year compressive plan to make it work. Our plan was to create a set of photographs that not only look amazing, but also bring the audience to "feel" and understand them. Stories that Houstonians can be proud of, at the same time mesmerizing others. After that, they set me loose. These are some of the stories behind the creations.
Knowing the history of this great man who loved his land"I love Texas too well to bring civil strife and bloodshed upon her"when I photographed this monument I felt obligated to reflect this larger-than-life Texan as bigger than a mortal man. My objective was for the statue to shine brilliantly, to a higher level . . . saint-like. Since this statue is one of the most popular and well known public works of art in the City of Houston, my instinct was not to create postcard photos; rather I wanted my portrayal of Sam Houston on his horse Saracen to be intrigingly powerful, noble and unique.
The Police Officers Memorial is an incredibly thoughtful design. It tells stories from many levels of sensitivity. From the rugged depth of the underground, accending all the way to the apex of the polished marble top, the ziggurat shape of the elevations suggests the shift to the spiritual world. The site plan is designed as a perfect cross. It uses the same language as gothic churches, as a visual link to God above. I wanted to use my photographs to tell these stories. The scale of human interaction and how it represents the sacred oath of police officers, serving the people of Houston and how their sacrifices protect all of us.
The Neuhaus Fountain Coyotes are wonderfully placed in the middle of a busy concrete and steel metropolis. The location is an oasis of green paradise in contrast to the modern structures that enclose it. My goal when creating these photographs was to give life to these bronze creatures. I assumed the role of a National Geographic photographer, carefully observing these coyotes from behind a tree or a bush, watching them drink water at a pond and curiously investigate their surroundings in the middle of the city.
Talking to a very knowledgeable park ranger, I learned that Vaquero (cowboy in Spanish) received a tough initial response during the design phase. The Hispanic community was reluctant to have a gun slinging individual on a horse with red eyes representing them to the world. The artist had to explain the history and culture behind the design. Back in the days when the vaqueros worked their cattle across the rugged prairies of Texas, the wind and dust would hurt their eyes, causing reddened eyes. While moving the cattle around, oftentimes they would fire their pistols into the sky, as the loud noises would drive the cattle onto the path that they intended. For these photographs I decided to elevate the view to level with the sculpture in order to emphasize the reddened eyes and the wrinkles on the vaquero's face as a salutation to the toughness of the early settlers of Texas.
ShauLin Hon was born on the island of Borneo, State of Sarawak, Malaysia. After spending 16 years as a designing architect he is now into his 11th year as a photographer. www.slyworksphotography.com/projects-26