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|On the Road in America
1960s and '70s
photos and commentary by
plus an audio interview with the
In the 1960s, Elaine Mayes was living in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco, where she was making photographs and documenting American culture, street life and the popular music scene. She got a gig taking photographs at the now-historic Montery Pop Festival in 1967, which resulted in a remarkable book of images (Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Janis Joplin, etc.).
Shortly after the Summer of Love, however, she accepted a position at the University of Minnesota to teach photography. She continued to teach — at Bard College, Hampshire College, Pratt Institute, Cooper Union, the International Center of Photography, and NYU — thereby influencing a generation or two of photographers.
In the meantime, of course, she continued to make her own photographs, but did little to promote her own work to the public.
She presented a brief but stunning retrsopective of her personal work in Portland, Oregon earlier this year. Just a few examples of her (relatively unkown) photographs are shown here, culled from three series: "auto-landscapes," natural landscapes, and personal "snaps".
Click on the links below to hear snippets of our conversation.
Elaine Mayes talks about:
° her beginnings and motivations as a photographer
° the joy of discovery in the darkroom
° a "photograph as an idea", and some early lessons from Minor White
° photography as "marksmanship" and the importance of knowing your equipment to capture spontaneity
° her current project of compiling the results of 25 years of photographing grafitti, with thoughts about un-self-conscious gestures and abstract expressionism.
I hope you find her images and words as inspiring as I do.
— Jim Casper
© 2005 Elaine Mayes
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