Marie Ulmer is a 97-year old artist who I began to represent at Bambi Gallery in 2007. We became fast friends. She has made a piece of art everyday for the last ninety years.

For 35 years she worked at The Free Library of Philadelphia as a commercial illustrator. During that period, she continued her studio practice as a fine artist.

Her art work, which spans over eight decades, includes a wide variety of styles and mediums. Some of the most striking works for me have been her self portraits. She used herself as a model primarily because, as she put it, “I drew who was available.” She is an only child, was never married and never had children. She devoted herself to art, her constant companion. I have great admiration for her dedication and persistence regarding her art.

I have been photographing Marie for over five years. The idea for a book project began two years ago. My goal is to produce a book that will include my photographs of Marie in conjunction with her self portraits, with one as early as age seven. In the years that I have been photographing her, I have discovered how her alter ego—a part of her personality she never explored—has developed in front of the camera, becoming my muse.

—Candace Karch

Editors’ Note: Don’t miss the rest of the winners, finalists and jurors’ picks from the LensCulture Portrait Awards 2015!