Portrait of Imogen

Posted March 30, 2018 at 5:48 am by

Meg Par­tridge, cinematog­ra­ph­er, direc­tor and pro­duc­er is pre­sent­ing her Acad­e­my Award nom­i­nat­ed film Por­trait of Imo­gen on April 7. She will share per­son­al mem­o­ries of life with her icon­ic grand­moth­er, pho­tog­ra­ph­er Imo­gen Cunningham.

The event, part of the Art As A Voice series will be held at the San Juan Grange on First Street in Fri­day Har­bor at 3 pm. A recep­tion fol­low­ing the film will be held at the San Juan Islands Muse­um of Art (SJIMA).

The film was made with Cunningham’s pho­tos and audio­tapes of con­ver­sa­tions between her grand­moth­er and her father, Ron­dal Par­tridge, a pho­tog­ra­ph­er, too. As they dis­cussed process and tech­nique and Meg loved eaves­drop­ping in her father’s workshop.

Meg had known her grand­moth­er when she was in her 70s, 80s, and 90s. To her, Imo­gen was always this old woman who took pho­tographs, but Meg dove into her ear­ly his­to­ry and her fam­i­ly his­to­ry while research­ing for the film, mak­ing Imogen’s unusu­al life come alive for her.

Cun­ning­ham decid­ed to become a pho­tog­ra­ph­er at an ear­ly age and pho­tog­ra­phy became not just her liveli­hood, but her life. As a Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton under­grad­u­ate Cun­ning­ham pur­chased a 4 x 5‑inch cam­era and devel­oped pho­tographs in the family’s con­vert­ed woodshed.

At the time, there was no pho­tog­ra­phy instruc­tion at the UW or most uni­ver­si­ties, so Cun­ning­ham majored in chem­istry then trav­eled to Dres­den to study photography.

Return­ing to Seat­tle, she worked at the stu­dio of the famed pho­tog­ra­ph­er of the Amer­i­can West, Edward Cur­tis, before open­ing her own por­trait studio.

She became one of the first female pro­fes­sion­al pho­tog­ra­phers and a major con­trib­u­tor to the devel­op­ment of pho­tog­ra­phy as an art form.

Cun­ning­ham is known for her beloved images such as the (Fri­da) Kahlo por­trait and the mag­no­lia blos­som, but enjoyed exper­i­ment­ing with tech­niques like dou­ble expo­sures and por­traits of friends and fam­i­ly. She could be adven­tur­ous at the turn of the cen­tu­ry as her envi­ron­ment was not touched by as many con­ven­tions as an urban set­ting. Lat­er, Cun­ning­ham broke most of her ear­ly por­trait neg­a­tives and saved only those she had done pri­mar­i­ly to please herself.

Partridge’s oth­er films include The Life and Times of the Red Dog Saloon (1996 Doc­u­men­tary), Dorothea Lange: A Visu­al Life (1995 Doc­u­men­tary), Clay Farm­ers (1988), Stop­ping the Com­ing Ice Age (1988 Doc­u­men­tary) and All About Babies (1988 Documentary). 

Admis­sion is $15 and $12 for SJIMA mem­bers and $8 for stu­dents. Tick­ets may be pur­chased online or at San Juan Islands Muse­um of Art and at the door (San Juan Islands Grange) start­ing at 2:45 p.m. A recep­tion will fol­low at the San Juan Islands Muse­um of Art, 540 Spring Street.

The Through My Lens: Imo­gen Cun­ning­ham is show­ing until May 7 at SJIMA as part of the 2018 The Female Gaze, where ded­i­cat­ed, inno­v­a­tive and insight­ful artists bring a fem­i­nine per­spec­tive to their cre­ations and our experience.

You can support the San Juan Update by doing business with our loyal advertisers, and by making a one-time contribution or a recurring donation.


Categories: Arts, Education, People

No comments yet. Be the first!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

By submitting a comment you grant the San Juan Update a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate, irrelevant and contentious comments may not be published at an admin's discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only, it will never be shared.

Receive new post updates: Entries (RSS)
Receive followup comments updates: RSS 2.0