Texas Tech University

SRO Photo Gallery - Megan Jacobs

School of Art
Landmark Arts
SRO Photo Gallery

AUSTIN CULLEN (Houston, Texas)

A Natural History (Built to be Seen)
September 28 - October 29, 2023

Austin Cullen
Coyote (2021) inkjet print, 18.5 x 24 inches.

A Natural History (Built to be Seen) catalogs the various ways the Western natural world is presented and reconstructed within museums. Austin Cullen documented the life cycle of natural history exhibitions, from inception to storage, depicting how institutions shape nature. The dramatic dioramas, interactive virtual experiences, and miniaturized landscapes all act as windows into the natural world. This framing guides viewers' understanding of nature and the complex and ever-changing relationship between people and land. Museums teach people about their environment while separating them from it. In an age of global climate crisis, it is imperative to re-evaluate one's understanding and relationship with nature. By creating images that subvert the viewer's ideas of what is natural, the viewer is asked to recognize how influential “museum nature” is on their understanding of the larger natural world.

Austin Cullen
Testing (2021) inkjet print, 18.5 x 24 inches.

Austin Cullen grew up visiting natural history museums regularly and has always been fascinated by the extravagant ways museums framed the American Landscape. His images play with the perceived truthfulness of photography by creating images that at first seem real or natural but slowly reveal themselves as constructed scenes. In doing this, the photos subvert the viewer's expectations of what is natural and emphasize the highly constructed human qualities of “museum nature.”

Austin Cullen
Untitled (Exit) (2021) inkjet print, 18.5 x 24 inches.

Austin Cullen is a Houston-based photographer and printmaker. He received his BFA from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2019 and his MFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2022. Cullen's work has been included in numerous venues, including the Houston Center for Photography, Filter Photo, and the Midwest Center for Photography.


SRO Photo Gallery is a graduate student run exhibition space dedicated to contemporary photography. Housed within the Photo Area at the Texas Tech School of Art, SRO Photo Gallery gives students from across the University access to cutting edge photographic art from across the USA, and is an integral part of the MFA in Photography program.

Landmark Arts exhibitions and speaker programs in the Texas Tech University School of Art are made possible in part with a generous grant from the Still Water Foundation, Austin. Additional support comes from Cultural Activities Fees administered through the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts.