Then and Now
Silver Gelatin Print - Madrid, NM, 1985

Silver Gelatin Print - Madrid, NM, 1985

Cyanotype on Watercolor Paper, 2019

Cyanotype on Watercolor Paper, 2019

I have been serious about photography since my high school days. I’ve accumulated years in an analog darkroom as a black and white photographer. As a shy and introverted teen, the darkroom was a safe and welcoming place for me.

After earning a liberal arts degree in college, I tried unsuccessfully to make a living as a fine art photographer. Those were pre-internet days when it was difficult getting a gallery director or editor to accept your phone call or answer a letter. After a few years of exhibiting in group shows I turned to a career that would actually afford me a living wage, the film industry.

I worked in film production for 15 years or so. My work was all budgets, schedules and dealmaking, pretty uncreative stuff. In 1999 I realized I missed photographing and bought my first digital camera. When I left the film industry in 2006 I turned my sights again on making it as an artist. I have been a full-time artist for ten years working mostly with digital photography. I never went back to an analog practice until now.

I realized I missed making things by hand. Sure, I made my own digital prints, but much of my creative work involved compositing and editing on a computer. I wanted to handle raw materials again. So, as part of my practice, I make cyanotypes. I enjoy coating paper and fabric by hand, collecting plant life and exploring experimental techniques associated with the medium. Making cyanotypes feels integrated with the way I live my life.

Vintage sari ribbon bracelet

Years ago I made jewelry in between film jobs. Then it was made of gold, sterling silver and semi-precious stones and was sold in boutiques in NYC and Brooklyn. On a whim today I made this bracelet from hand dyed vintage silk sari ribbon, some gold beads I had lying around and a wood button as a closure.

I wish I could use all the bits and bobs that have collected around me over the years before acquiring new materials. Essentially I’m a wabi-sabi minimalist with a touch of collector when it comes to things that might work in an art project someday…

Pamela Viola