Brian Howell graduated from Ryerson Polytechnical University in Toronto in 1994 with a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Photography. His contemporary photographic work examines vernacular expressions of shifting societal and personal values. Howell’s subjects are drawn from fringe or marginalized communities: people and places resonant with allegorical meanings for an age that seems to Howell both broken and blinded. Howell’s photographic series build on the truth-telling mantra of an earlier era of documentary photojournalists, though they are given structure and further meaning by a more rigorous contemporary conceptual framework.
Each of Howell’s individual projects have been successfully exhibited and published as a book or catalogue. One-Ring Circus: Extreme Wrestling in the Minor Leagues was published in 2002 by Arsenal Press and Fame Us:Celebrity Impersonators and the Cult(ure) of Fame” was published in 2007 also by Arsenal Press. The 2011 catalogue for Howell’s exhibition Shopping Carts at Vancouver’s Winsor Gallery features an Introduction by author Douglas Coupland.
Howell’s newest series, titled Burnt Forests, depicts a selection of winter landscapes of forests previously ravaged by wild fires in British Columbia. Upon first glance, viewers presume/interpret the work to be ink drawings or watercolour paintings and are pleasantly surprised to discover they are in fact looking at inkjet photographic prints. This is due to Howell’s ability to depict the unique fragility of each tree as well as capture the naturally occurring abstraction and symmetrical composition in the landscape.