Born Bucharest, Romania 1955
Emigrated to, and raised in, Chicago Illinois 1961-
BFA School of the Art Insitute of Chicago 1978
MFA University of California at Davis 1980
Professor Williams College, Williamstown, MA 1987-2016
Taught video, photography and drawing
Except for a brief period of time in graduate school and two years after, my work in photography has been fabricated and/or manipulated, largely informed by my background in the plastic arts of drawing, painting and printmaking. This is not out of some sense of anti-realist tendency but rather an inability to be sufficiently fast or aggressive to “capture that moment.” I compensate by “making the moment.” As an immigrant I didn’t speak English for the first couple of years in the States and was extremely shy and introverted, with my peers, well into my twenties.
Despite the fact that I came to art school at the height of conceptualism, I never bought into the death of the art object. I embrace and strive to make objects, I draw liberally from the history of art and I fabricate all of my work myself, as much as I can. Much of this has to do with financial limitations rather than any notions of purity but I do feel I learn a great deal about what it is I hope to say by learning how to fabricate the object I envision. I come from a family of makers and crafts people. My father was a shoe designer and my mother a seamstress in Romania. In the States, among the things my father did for a living was repairing oriental rugs.
For example, it took me months of experimenting with different supports before I found that porcelain would accept a photographic emulsion yet be sufficiently vitreous to release photographic chemicals when the porcelain slabs were immersed in those chemicals.
Digital photography interrupted my life. Just as I was feeling as if I was beginning to “master” and comprehend analog photography, as a teacher, I felt a responsibility to learn/teach digital photography. As an artist, digital photography seemed so much better suited to “my” type of photography. I had tried repeatedly to print analog on canvas and manipulating the image with kodalith masks was cumbersome. Still, learning digital processing in my middle age was a steep learning curve. I still wonder if we ought to call a digital print a photograph… “drawn with light.” Unlike an analog print, a digital print is drawn with ink and not light.
My parents always thought of themselves as Europeans, despite both being members of the Armenian diaspora, both were born in Romania but neither were granted Romanian citizenship. My father's family from Russia, my mother's from Turkey. My trip to Armenia and Romania made me realize how I felt so much more comfortable in the former than I did in the latter. This prompted my subsequent trip to North Africa and I hope to further explore the Middle East...