Imogen

Dimensions 78 cm x 240 cm x 65 cm
Materials Bronze and wood
Collection Dr Stanley Levy, Bloomfield Hills, MI

Imogen Cunningham was a photographer known for landscapes, nudes, and botanicals. She was part of the f/64 group that included Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. This group was known for its sharp photographs of details, thus the small aperture.In her early career she worked for Edward Curtis in Seattle helping him document Native American tribes. During her life in addition to her voluminous production of brilliant photographs she worked on the chemistry of photography using the education she received at the University of Washington.Cunningham continued to work up until her death at 93. The image I used of Imogen was from a photo taken by Judy Dater of the photographer encountering a nude (Twinka Thiebaud, the daughter of the painter Wayne Thiebaud) in Yosemite National Park. The landscape at her feet is a square yard of earth and plants a mold of which was taken from the forest floor of Yosemite and then cast in bronze. The camera is a reproduction of an 8 x 10 view camera she used to take many of her photographs.

This sculpture was the first time I used glass in my work and it came about because the negatives in an 8 x 10 view camera are captured on chemically treated glass plates. I decided that I wanted to place her life size image on a panel of glass and went about discovering possible techniques to achieve my goal. I tumbled on sandblasting by walking by a restaurant in New York that had a carved Sandblasted window. By chance through the Yellow Pages I found the Shefts Family Studio, Carved Glass Incorporated, in the Bronx, New York. They agreed to teach me only after promising in writing not to compete with their business after I became competent. I was able to assure them that I would only use the technique in my sculptures. Sadly the Shefts brothers, Sam, Izzy, and Charlie are gone and Sam’s son could not keep the business alive. They were known for amongst other projects, the marvelous carved glass work in Rockefeller Center, New York.