About Polly

I was born in the Bay Area when (in my memory) it was predominantly simple farmland. I am a fourth-generation Californian and my parents were self-employed landscape architects.

During my education in the early 1980s I was deeply influenced by Gary Winogrand and Diane Arbus. Later Doug and Mike Starn and Christian Boltanski informed my ideas..

My role as a photographer was as a documentarian, culturally and socially, with an interest in the landscape of historical transition. I roamed the streets with a Leica learning about choreography in space and time, building on my previous study and practice of dance. I was already extremely sensitive by nature so I literally felt what I was seeing. I eventually replaced the Leica with an 8 x 10 inch field camera.

When my father died I was 28 years old. That event changed my relationship to photographic imagery. Luckily I had been documenting him for years at home and also had a vast collection of his own history in negatives. But I kept asking the question: How can an image on film or paper (which seemed fragile and temporal) express the loss of such a monumental figure in my life?

This took me into the more spiritual and less representative realm of making art.

The Childhood Oak Tree was a result of that search to integrate other materials, which were three-dimensional, had weight and symbolism with a very specifically significant image.

Since my father's death I have been fascinated with loss and wonderment. My deep respect for animals started to become part of this interest.

And then there are the historical photographs. Many years ago I was given boxes of family negatives, most of which were made by my great uncle Harry Raynsford in the early 1900s. For the past eight years I have explored the way he photographed animals, but I am also working through a large collection of his many other interests portrayed in early 20th century California.

At this point in my life I've learned to listen carefully, stay open to "mistakes" and realize that wisdom takes many different forms. My father had a quiet wisdom that I work to emulate and share through my photography.

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