Jenna Kay Houston was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Soon after, they moved with their family to suburban New Jersey where they grew up, not far from New York City. During these teenage years, femmes on Tumblr and YouTube led them to have a webcam aesthetic with much of their video work. Jenna transitioned this into photography and installation, focusing on gender studies and visual art at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, where they are based now. Following these teenage years and the long-term development of a chronic pain syndrome, Jenna now works with documentary video, analog photography, zines, and multiples, being most interested in forms that can be shared democratically via distributables or the internet. They are focused on using a queer femme lens to make theoretical discourses from academia more accessible to a wider audience. Most recently, Jenna was an artist-in-residence at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, CA, received individual artist grants and a fellowship from The Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry and Carnegie Mellon University, and is an anticipated artist-in-residence at The Growlery in San Francisco, CA.
There are two types of queer people: those who perform in drag and the white men that paint rainbows on themselves during pride… or so mass media would have you believe. The more queer people depicting other queer people, the more the community’s representation can begin to unfold as a multifaceted reality instead of the one-sided images often portrayed. My recent photography has centered around documenting Pittsburgh’s queer community in their homes, away from outside performance and projections, while also addressing the lack of a gay neighborhood and spaces here. The photos are a collaboration with each subject and are shot with medium-format color film to give the LGBTQIA+ community the materials and time they deserve from an artist, but are rarely afforded.
To view more of Jenna Houston’s work please visit their website.