In the traditional Japanese art of flower arrangement, mizugiwa means the point where the water and plant meet. In English, that's better known as the shore or bank, but it doesn't seem nearly as poetic.
In "Water's Edge (Mizugiwa)" at Catherine Couturier Gallery, Houston artist Libbie J. Masterson explores this concept through a series of photographs taken all over the world -- though nowhere particularly distinguishable (these could be well-known bodies of water, or random springs -- it doesn't matter). This intersection has been an interest of Masterson's for years, before she even knew there was such a word for it, and it's easy to see why it has caught her eye. Her photographs are dramatic landscapes that have washed out most color in favor of blue tints and black and white contrasts that emphasize this dynamic.
In the closely cropped Early Canal (3FJ5140), for instance, the vegetation is blacked out -- trees and plant life are silhouettes against the white sky and the subtle ripples of the water. Still others favor a tint that turns everything, even the plant life, blue, united in the color. In Camargue (3FJ5072), for instance, both water and land exist in similar hues of bluish-green -- they're on the same wavelength.
Though it's the focus of her photographs, the water isn't always obvious or even seems to be the main subject. In Road St. Remy (3FJ4943), it is hidden and needs to be found among the dominant, massive trees and lush bushes. But it is always there, whether stretching gloriously across multiple prints, as in Loire River Triptych, or traveling endlessly towards the back of the frame, as in Chenonceau Canal, lit beautifully the whole way.
"Libbie J. Masterson: Water's Edge (Mizugiwa)" at Catherine Couturier Gallery, 2635 Colquitt Street, runs now through August 31. For more information, call 713-524-5070 or visit www.catherinecouturier.com.
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