We are honored to share three images from Edna Bullock in this years Depth of Field, along with three from Wynn Bullock.
About the photographer, Edna Bullock.
Edna Bullock became an ’emerging’ artist in photography at age 61. As a dancer in her youth, she was inspired by Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, and Ruth St. Denis. She also enjoyed the comic side of dance and developed her own style of light-hearted tap. From the early 1940s to the mid-1970s, she spent her time as a choreographer, physical education and home economics teacher, wife, and mother. In her home life, she made clothing for her family, including men’s shirts, overcoats, and evening gowns. Some articles are still being worn with loving appreciation for the skill and attention to detail that are evident in every long-lasting stitch. Other handcrafts such as macramé, needlework, were also ways of expression as were flower gardening, drawing, woodblock art, and calligraphy. Creativity was part of her everyday life.
After Wynn passed away in 1975 and her children were grown and on their own paths, Edna wondered about her future. Healthy, and energetic, she knew she didn’t want to go back to teaching, and she surprised her family by deciding to pursue photography herself. With a darkroom full of supplies, one of Wynn’s cameras, and over thirty years of being the wife of Wynn’s, she felt she had nothing to lose by giving it a try. Not knowing anything about the technical side of photography, she enrolled in Photography I at her local community college where the teacher, Henry Gilpin was astonished to see her as one of his students.
Once she started on this course, Edna, in her usual fashion, moved full speed ahead, going remarkably quickly from taking classes and workshops, to teaching them. Starting a whole new career at 61 meant there was no time to waste.
Every time she went into the darkroom, Edna wore one of the shirts she had made for Wynn, along with his favorite work belt. A source of comfort, it was also a ritual that she believed challenged her to do her best. Even though she had lived with one of the great photographers of the mid-twentieth century and had been surrounded by other photographic giants, Edna managed to find her own voice in her photographs. Peace, rhythm, humor, curiosity, and connection are all there in her images. Although her archive contains photographs of a wide range of subject matter, including landscapes, seascapes, flea markets, and portraits, she is perhaps best known for her nudes.
In these images, Edna portrays men as well as women comfortable in their own bodies and in tune with nature. She had a wonderful ability to develop respectful and creatively rich relationships with her models and this kind of collaboration produced a remarkable body of work.
Rfotofolio with thanks to Barbara Bullock-Wilson.
“Although Edna Bullock dealt with a variety of subjects over her twenty years as a photographer, she eventually came to concentrate on the nude, both male and female, which she primarily photographed in natural environments. Her work reflects an accumulated sensitivity to the body and its movements, informed by her past experiences as an instructor of dance and physical education. Yet her portrayal of the human figure is often as evocative or metaphorical as it is formal or kinetic, at times with mythic and erotic qualities. In Three Nudes on the Dunes (1990), a trio of reclining female figures appears in the middle of a wind-blown desert landscape, their distant forms subtly mirroring the slanting dunes and sparse vegetation in the background”.
Museum of Contemporary Photography.
“Edna Bullock’s images have such a delicacy and beauty, yet they are also testaments to her tenacious will and energy. Brava, Edna”
Eikoh Hosoe, photographer. From the book Edna’s Nudes
To learn more about Edna Bullock please visit, Wynn Bullock Photography.
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