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100 Creatives: Ben Tecumseh DeSoto

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(Part of our ongoing series profiling 100 Houston-area artists. No rankings; no order. Check back every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for another edition.)

What he does: Ben Tecumseh DeSoto jokingly tells people that as a photojournalist it's his duty to photograph explosions, fires, human disasters and occasionally, triumphs. For more than 30 years he has surveyed those who've lived in poverty and diminishing circumstances, while finding a way to document their progress. He teaches photography at Houston Community College and Neighborhood Center's Ripley House. He is a contributing photographer for Texas Highways.

What inspires him: His convictions, both Christian and Buddhist, inspire him. He says that "value creation," a spiritual practice that reinforces universal fundamentals, motivates his work. "Human life is precious and we need to move forward to make informed choices."

What he likes about it: DeSoto discovered "scientific magic" while going through a workshop in a darkroom that used to be a janitorial closet. " The moment, that human connection, where it evokes, provokes, promotes. That's what makes any piece of art fly," he says.

strong>His proudest moment: DeSoto met Judy Pruitt in 1988 when she was a runaway from the Texas Youth Commission. He followed her life over the years, and says that a photo taken of her after being denied custody of her daughter by TYC is his proudest moment. "This picture represents the totality of how we're creating an underclass through inadequate public institutions."

What's next: Creative Capital of Houston is an ongoing project to expose the city's multitude of artistic talent. The project is a combination of 170 artists' portraits taken by DeSoto between 1984-90, as well 64 contemporary portraits of venues and events. On exhibit at The Artery,The Speaker's Bureau is a continuing project from DeSoto's 2009 Understanding Poverty Series promoting awareness of the homeless.

More Creatives

(In order of most recently published; click here for the full page.)

Tracy Robertson aka Batty - Goth Fashion Designer Tierney Malone - Creative Type Dolan Smith - Painter Jenny Schlief - Mixed-Media Artist David Eagleman - Writer Anna Sprage - Painter Philip Lehl - Actor Andy Noble - Choreographer David McGee - Painter

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