Painted Film Collage
The first work represents earlier series: The Fire series, West Berkeley, earlier travel images, and Maine. The early painted work incorporated collage, magazine rubbings and metallic paints. Current painted film overlays chalk pastel, charcoal and often collage , and still incorporates metallic paints. These image were shot in black and white on medium format film. The negatives were printed on transparent film in a darkroom. The film is painted on the reverse side and placed over a second layer of chalk pastel. This is a process I developed after working with film positives to prepare silkscreens. I have found that the film, especially when layered over paint, pastel or collage, has a three dimensional quality more akin to color slides than to color prints.
Photographic Assemblage: After traveling to Italy in the 1990's, I began to incorporate photographic images into salvaged doors and mirror frames. The integration of architectural detail with the photographic image led to an expansion of my work into the 3rd dimension. Artists like David Ireland and Raushenburg were inspirational.
I have been taking portraits since I began doing Photography at the age of 21. Most of the black and white images are either 4 x 5 or 2 1/2 film, while the color is digital. These are studio portraits, where the subject is looking directly at the camera. This makes the sitter a co-creator in the portrait process.
Creative Growth Chalkboard Self-Portraits
In my studio in West Oakland, I have painted a large wall with chalkboard paint. There I take portraits of children and artists after they have drawn on the chalkboard. I am intrigued by the drawn chalk line as it is translated by the camera into a beautiful graphic element. Adding the drawing to the portrait creates a double portrait, because everybody’s drawing style is unique. I wanted to try out this process at Creative Growth because the artists there have such fluency in the language of drawing. Coincidentally, a new film had just come on the market, which followed in the tradition of Polaroid Type 55 film, in which each shot produces an instant positive print along with a negative.
Using a 4 x 5 view camera with this new film, I attached a shutter release with a pneumatic bulb, which allowed each artist to take his or her own picture alongside the finished chalk drawing. I have found in past projects how much a self-portrait eliminates the self-consciousness of posing for a photograph by giving the sitter control over the timing of the shutter-release. After practicing a few times, the artists got the hang of it and took very relaxed, natural pictures. Seeing the positive print immediately added to the excitement of the process.
I am so impressed by both the talent and the ability of the Creative Growth artists to jump right in and begin drawing.
California Arts Council Portrait Projects
West Berkeley Senior Center
I served as an artist in residence for three years at West Berkeley Senior Center in the early 1980'2. The population at West Berkeley was made up largely of African Americans who had migrated to the Bay Area for jobs during World War II, and were now retired. I ran a photography program which included teaching , portraiture and copying old family photographs. The Center was run by Maudelle Shirek, who later became a Berkeley city councilwoman and fought for progressive causes.
Albany High School
I worked as an artist at Albany High school through the California Arts Council. Students made and operated pinhole cameras, and did studio portraits.
AIDS Self- Portraits
These portraits were taken during an artist residency I had through the California Arts Council. I photographed at the Center for Aids services in Oakland, at Rest Stop and Shanti house in S.F., and at the Unity Church in Richmond. These were self-portraits taken with a 4 x 5 camera and polaroid Type 55 film. Each sitter was given the shutter release bulb so they could control the timing of the exposure.
Anna Yates Elementary & Cathedral School for Boys : Self-Portraits
I was an artist -in-resident at two elementary-middle schools: Anna Yates Elementary School in Emeryville, serving mostly minority and immigrant students, and Cathedral School for Boys in San Francisco, a K-8 private boys school. 4 x 5 polaroid self -portraits were taken by the students, and the negatives were scanned into computers and manipulated in a program called Kidpix. The images were combined with writing and made into books. Pinhole photographs were made from ice cream containers.
In 1973 I photographed Imogen Cunningham on several different occasions: Imogen at work on Fillmore Street and environs, Imogen and Lisette Model in Imogen's garden on Green Street, and Imogen with a vintage tricycle at the San Francisco Art Institute. I was a young photographer in my twenties, and Imogen was very encouraging . She was also very quick and funny. In the photograph with the tricycle, Imogen's assistant set up the shot and then Imogen was surrounded by students with cameras. I came into the room and she threw her cloak over her shoulder , looked at me and said " Immortalize me ".
In 2013 I had an artist residency in India at Sanskriti in South Delhi. I travelled to Bundi, Kota and South Rajastan , where I was inspired by the painted walls of the Bundi palace and by the street life in the nearby towns. At the end of the residency I travelled to Dharmasala, where I photographed the Dolma Ling Nunnery.
Dolma Ling Nunnery, Dharmasala
After an artists residency at Sanskriti Kendra in Delhi, I travelled to Dharmasala, India and met Rinchen Khando, who founded the Tibetan Nun's project in 1986 with the encouragement of the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan Nuns Project was founded in order to give nuns greater educational opportunities than were previously available in Tibet. This year, the first set of nuns sat for round two of the Geyshema examinations, which require 17 years of study. Below are photographs of the nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery as they go through the day meditating, studying, debating, and relaxing. Tibetan debating is accompanied by a structured choreography that expresses points of dharma along with the vocal debate. The nuns wind up like a baseball pitcher and deliver the debating point in a fluid, dramatic forward motion.
Oxford University Museum of Natural History
This group of birds was one of several displays of birds, ducks and geese in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. The cases reflect the vaulted ceilings of the Neo-Gothic architecture. The taxidermists have arranged a semblance of an environment for these birds, and even imbued some of the characters with personalities. Even so, the birds, encased and stuffed, are a long way off from flying. Charles Dodgson, who taught at Oxford, found many of the characters for his "Through the Looking-Glass" series here, including the infamous Dodo Bird.
These image were shot in black and white on medium format film. The negatives were printed on transparent film in a darkroom. The film is painted on the reverse side and placed over a second layer of chalk pastel. This is a process I developed after working with film positives to prepare silkscreens. I have found that the film transparency, when layered over paint, pastel or collage, has a three dimensional quality more akin to color slides than to color prints. Italy was a particularly rich source of imagery which mirrored this layered process.