“These images are imaginative, playful, quirky and also intriguingly thought-provoking. They explore our inner world of thoughts, memories, feelings, values – what we focus on, what we hold dear. Also they probe the connections and relationships between internal and external realities.” Barbara Bullock-Wilson
Would you please tell a little us about yourself?
I’m originally from the East coast, but have lived in California for many years now. I was practically raised in my dad’s pharmacy and spent my childhood voraciously reading comics and eating candy.
I began making art when I was small and worked in many media before attending Tyler School of Fine Art in Philadelphia and choosing printmaking as a major. My graduate degree, from San Diego State University, was also in Printmaking. Although I began teaching printmaking at a Junior College after graduation, I slowly moved on to other media, collage and assemblage and then photography. Yet I retained that love of layering which I learned in school, printing three plates, one at a time, on top of each other onto a single sheet of Arches paper to create an etching.
How did you get started in photography?
I first fell in love with Photography at Tyler. Our teacher gave each of us an Olympus PenW camera, which shot half frame images, so there were 72 grainy images to each roll. He taught us about Henri Cartier-Bresson, Minor White, and W. Eugene Smith and stressed the importance of learning to see. The teacher, Irv Sherman, was one of the few teachers at Tyler that, at that time, was not biased towards men.
Which photographers’ and other artists’ work do you admire?
A few of the artists whose work I love include; Frida Kahlo, Kiki Smith, Nick Cave, and Julie Mehretu. Betye Saar, who was a mentor to me when we shared a year-long fellowship together definitely impacted my artmaking. I am more influenced by artists as opposed to photographers, but admire Aline Smithson, Cig Harvey, Richard Tuschman, Hiroshi Watanabe, Christa Blackwood, Priya Kambli and Fran Forman, to name a few.
What has been your most memorable experience as far as your photographic work is concerned?
I had two large exhibits at Museums this past year, a show at the Griffin Museum in the Fall, and a show at the California Museum of Art, Thousand Oaks, which was so exciting for me. Yet probably the loveliest experience has been spending a week each year with a group of photographers called Shootapalooza. During this retreat, we share portfolios, offer support and teach each other new ways of making art.
Please tell us about the portfolio of work you submitted to our call.
Most of my portfolios are of quite intimate subjects, but after presenting a landscape portfolio at a weekend retreat with Aline Smithson and Scott B. Davis, I was urged to return to more personal imagery. My “Noisy Brain” series was conceived from this urging. I am a person who is envious of people who practice mindfulness. My brain is noisy and overwhelmed at times.
Part of this I think is a response to living in the 21st Century, but part of it is that I’ve always considered myself an outsider and am constantly reflecting on how I fit in the world.
What Image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson?
One of my past series combined succulents and cacti from my garden with old medical illustrations of the heart; this gave me the idea to use a template of my profile with illustrations of the brain to examine what factors impact who we become.
Our DNA , of course, is vital, but I believe, especially if we are people who reflect on our lives, that we have a great impact on who we become. In this series, I examine how such issues as gender, memory, creativity and aging affect our development. I sometimes sew or collage on my images to transform them into objects and have done so in several images in this series. For me, each of these images is a narrative, a visual poem . . . a reflection or comment on myself and humanity. I didn’t realize until I completed the image called “Blue Ice” that it was an image about life and death. As I worked on this series I began to see that in some of the images, “BIue Ice” and “Luna”, especially, I was subconsciously commenting on my mother’s battle with dementia.
What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?
A good day for me can be just staying at home with my morning latte, hanging out in my garden and studio with my dog Roxy, weeding, photographing and making art. I find peace in the studio, a calm which I also find when I am travelling to distant lands with my husband, but at few other times.
The hardest time for me is when I am in between projects. I become anxious and worry that I have used up my creativity.
Do you have any favorite pieces of equipment that you find essential in the making of your work?
What is essential to me right now, in terms of equipment, is a camera, tripod, a couple of lenses, my computer, a scanner, my printer, and lots and lots of paper and ink.
What is on the horizon?
I’ve been working on a series about my relationship with my mother, but for the past nine months have been grieving over the tragic death of my oldest son, Noah. I have been thinking a lot about a series about him, but am only in the beginning stages of this.
Thank you Sandra for sharing your work and words with us,
To learn more about the work of Sandra please visit her site at, Sandra Klein.