Ranging from gritty street photos of Juarez, Mexico to manipulated, ethereal landscapes inside a studio, Collin College alumnus and artist Shawn Saumell creates pieces to make people think.

The Dallas artist was recently honored with the Rising Star Award, a designation given to 12emerging Texas artists not currently represented by a gallery. The 12  galleries nominated artists including the Holly Johnson Gallery, which nominated Saumell.

“For my art, I want to repurpose and give things new meaning and new context,” Saumell said.  “I like to alter perceptions and for people to question what they see, perceive, believe and how their perceptions can be manipulated.”

But before Saumell was painstakingly creating images, he took a different path and majored in computer science. As a child he enjoyed using his mother’s film camera and decided to take a photography class as an elective at Collin College.

“Taking that class turned my world upside down,” Saumell said. “The class reignited passions and after that, all of that life became mundane except for my photography work.”

From there, Saumell exhibited his work in a group show at Collin College and at the end of the semester received a “Best of Show” award complete with a stipend and a solo fine art exhibition.


He graduated from Collin College with his associate degree in photography and graduated with his bachelor’s degree in photography from Texas Woman’s University and a master’s degree from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University.

Saumell has gone on to have more than 100 exhibitions of his work worldwide and across the United States, from Los Angeles to New York.

“For me, when I photograph a subject, I don’t always have just one style or genre,” Saumell said. “I want people to appreciate my art and make them think about their surroundings.”

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