November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
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Aline Smithson: The Photographer’s Mother

©Aline Smithson

Arrangement #5


Arrangement in Green and Black:

Portrait of the Photographer’s Mother Series

This series had serendipitous beginnings.  I found a small print of Whistler’s painting, Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter’s Mother, at a neighborhood garage sale.  The same weekend, I found a leopard coat and hat, a 1950s’ cat painting, and what looked like the exact chair from Whistler’s painting.  That started me thinking about the idea of portraiture, the strong compositional relationships going on within Whistler’s painting, and the evocative nature of unassuming details.

The series incorporates traditional photography techniques, yet becomes richer with the treatment of hand painting.  It is my intent to have the viewer see the work in a historical context with the addition of color, and at the same time, experience Whistler’s simple, yet brilliant formula for the composition.

My patient 85-year-old mother posed in over 20 ensembles, but unfortunately passed away before seeing the finished series.  I am grateful for her sense of humor and the time this series allowed us to be together.

The images were taken with a Hasselblad and printed on Ilford warm tone matt paper in two sizes, 11×14 and 16×20.  It is an edition of 25 with 4 Artist’s Proofs.

— Aline Smithson


Aline Smithson

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Smithson on Smithson

I came to photography through the back door.  My father and uncle were photographers and my career was centered around it, but it was not until I found my uncle’s twin lens Rolleiflex that I embraced photography fully as my own.  Seeing the world with my own photographic vision has become a wonderful obsession.

I graduated from the College of Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara with a BA in Art and moved to NYC to make my living as a painter, and although I continued to paint, my career moved into the fashion world.  I worked as the Fashion Editor for Vogue Patterns and Vogue Knitting Magazines in New York City for a decade, and then continued on in Los Angeles as a freelance photo stylist.  As a Fashion Editor, I had the privilege of working with many exceptional fashion photographers including Horst, Mario Testino, Patrick Demarchelier, Arthur Elgort and Burt Stern.  I did not realize it at the time, but I was working with the most amazing teachers.

After standing next to the camera for many years, I have discovered that it is behind the camera that I find my joy and passion. My work has been featured in numerous publications including the PDN Photo Annual, Communication Arts Photo Annual, Eyemazing, Artworks, Lenswork Extended, Shots, Pozytyw, and Silvershotz magazines. I have exhibited widely including solo shows at the Griffin Museum of Photography, the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art, Galerie Tagomago in Barcelona, and Wallspace Gallery in Seattle. In addition, my work has been included in many group exhibitions and has garnered numerous awards. I continue to shoot film and use cameras that are decades old.

Along with creating my own photographs, I work hard to promote the work of other photographers. I have been the Gallery Editor for Light Leaks Magazine; I founded and write daily for the well-read photography blog, Lenscratch, which has been noted as one of the 10 Best Photography blogs by Source Review.  I am also a contributing writer for Diffusion, F Stop, Light Leaks, and Lucida magazines and write book reviews for photoeye. In addition I have curated exhibitions for a number of galleries and on-line magazines, including Fraction and Too Much Chocolate. For the past decade, I have been teaching workshops and hosting lecture series at the Julia Dean Photo Workshops in Los Angeles. I was nominated for The Excellence in Photographic Teaching Award in 2008 and 2009 and for The Santa Fe Prize in Photography in 2009 by Center. In 2009 and 2010, I was selected to be a juror for Critical Mass through Photolucida, and a reviewer at Review LA in 2010 and 2011.


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