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1/10 — Enigma



Ones to Watch: Cary Fagan

It’s hard to believe that it’s only been four years since Houston-based creative triple threat (photographer, filmmaker, and chair stacking artist), Cary Fagan decided to pursue photography as a career. After shadowing his photographer father on various assignments, Fagan soon developed a fervent love for film. In fact, shooting film in this highly digital world we’re in has given Fagan a leg up in the oversaturated photography industry. 

Having already gained cred with music industry elites of the likes of fellow H-town hero, Solange, contributing visuals for her acclaimed When I Get Home project, as well as shooting the cover of rapper A$AP Rocky’s 2018 album, Testing – which landed on Billboard’s top 20 album covers of the year – Fagan continues on a successful trajectory and he hasn’t even reached the age of 30. 

“Right now, I’m making history for a week,” Fagan tells Milk.xyz via FaceTime regarding the showcasing of his chair stack sculptures in Italy. Fagan’s penchant for chair stacking began this summer and has since landed him two international residencies in Japan and Italy this year alone. Fun fact: Fagan owns about 25 chairs in his apartment. 

Here, Fagan walks us through the inspiration behind ten film and digital photos exclusively shot by him while at his residency in Italy.


That was the title of my piece. Someone asked me what the first thing was to come to my mind, I thought of mysterious objects. When I created my chair sculptures, I wanted people to come up with their own interpretation. It’s a new medium and everyone has a different perspective of how they feel about my sculptures. So, it’s nice to hear and learn from what they say. 


I had gone to Italy with the intention of stacking chairs, but there was an artist by the name of David Stemler who was also in residency; and we were going to sort of cross each other during our stay. He came to me with an idea of the project he wanted to accomplish while he was out in Italy and it was entitled “Italianish.” It was a project exploring Italian multiculturalism. We sought out ten Italian locals and invited them over to the residency and we did a portrait series. We provided questions for them to answer. We displayed this in our exhibition. 

Plastic bag

On my day trip of photojournalism, I just appreciated the details Italy had to offer and actually just taking the time out in the day, taking photos and stopping every second. That’s something I don’t get a chance to do back at home. So, having that much inspiration really flowed through me throughout the day. 

Police Guard Portrait

The back silhouette of people can be really inspiring, especially in the setting that they’re in. I’ve tampered with the idea of putting together a book of back silhouettes. 


The self-portrait is something that people kind of know me for. That is my version of a self-portrait. This is how I see myself without seeing myself. 

Statue Portrait

The base of that statue is created by Michelangelo and just the idea of doing my chair sculptures next to that gave me a lot of perspective and realization that I’m out here doing the impossible. 


I spent a day taking a stroll. Taking the time out to take a stroll on a day and taking time off, that’s what it’s about – enjoying the down time. In Italy, a lot of people appreciate the down time and they take their time to slow down. That’s something we don’t do.


Next year, I want to go into refining my still life work. I’m noticing I’m zooming in more and appreciating the details. I want to continue that journey. 


When I sat in that chair, that was the first time I felt like a king. At the same time I was sitting in the chair, people were walking into the residency and I was acting as if I was a king. I felt like true royalty. People were there for me. I was being filmed and documented. I felt very powerful and I felt inspired to design my own version of a throne. 

Stay tuned to Milk for more Ones to Watch.

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