Melissa Cunningham

Melissa is a self-taught photographer, born and raised in Pasadena, Texas, just outside the 610 Loop where the agricultural roots of Houston still held sway through the 90s. Her focus centers around the intimacy of life that can be found in both the quiet, rural and the busy, urban landscapes. She has shown work in One by One Texas (Artpost Austin, 2015), Houston Center for Photography’s collaborative exhibit with At The Table magazine “Feast Your Eyes” (Houston, 2016), and FLATS presents: Women (Houston, 2016).


713/281 is a look at Houston’s identity of home, focusing on intimate moments of life both inside and outside the loop, the traditional line between Houston and its outer limits. Historically the landline area codes, 713 or 281, were used as a colloquial test to determine if a person was inner loop (Houston) or outer loop (suburbs).

As the metroplex grows, the urban/suburban/rural dividing lines become increasingly ambiguous, and the claim of Houston as home spreads further out than an area code or freeway line. Individually the images are single vignettes of Houston as home through others’ connections with their place. Together these brief moments of life create a pulsing tableau of a constant, potential energy just under the surface of a sprawling, fast-changing metroplex.

I grew up in the 281 area code of Houston, outside the loop, a suburb, often considered not true Houston (713). There we still had horses, coyotes, large gardens, and fields, but only a twenty minute drive from downtown Houston. Like many, I eventually migrated inside the loop and now photograph the people and evidence of people immediately around me, in the neighborhood, at friends’ houses, at family homes.

To view more of Melissa’s work please visit her website.