Marti Corn spent four years—from 2010-14—photographing and interviewing 13 Tamina residents and their families, compiling a written history of the century-and-a-half-old community in South Montgomery County.
“As they started opening up to me, what I found so heartwarming and what taught me the most is that they do not place their priorities on material things,” Corn said. “It’s all about taking care of one another. I think that’s a lesson we all need to learn.”
After spending hours at the local heritage museum researching Tamina, Corn said she found the community only had about three paragraphs of documented history on record. This discovery sparked her interest in the four-year project.
“As I started really developing my photography skills, I always knew I wanted to do documentary work,” Corn said. “As I went into this community, it continued to build interest in me—this pastoral community that is just such a contrast to all the neighboring towns.”
Founded in the 1870s, the small community has been fighting to receive basic necessities like public sewer service for more than 15 years.
Corn, who has a degree in journalism with photojournalism and graphic design specialties, also runs a graphic design firm, Corn Creative, she said.
“After Tamina, I received a grant and worked with refugees who had resettled in Houston,” Corn said. “Then I went to Kenya, and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 2 1/2 years.”
After Corn published Tamina’s history, a portrait of resident Johnny Jones was accepted into a show at the Smithsonian Institution, she said.
Now, Corn is preparing for a show featuring her Tamina works at Lone Star College System’s Montgomery and Kingwood campuses, aiming to educate communities of the unincorporated community’s historical significance.
“I just have this—some would say insane—sense of justice,” Corn said. “I get really angry when I see people that are being mistreated or marginalized. In order for me to use that anger that is in a useful way, I turn to the camera.”
4010 Yupon St., Houston