Elisabeth Sunday

Elisabeth Sunday
American Photographer
Elisabeth Sunday has been photographing indigenous people across the African continent for the last 26 years. Using a flexible mirror she created for the purpose (and hand carries unaccompanied to some of the most remote and dangerous spots on earth), Sunday has created her own analog process that prefigured Photoshop that she calls "Mirror Photography". Her method of photographing her subjects emphasizes and enhances their grace, elongating the body and the folds of their garments, creating an impressionistic effect one might be used to seeing in painting but which is unexpected in a medium from which we often expect a more literal representation. The effect is closer to that of dance, in which the body has reshaped itself and learned to move in a way that proclaims and exaggerates all its best qualities, while momentarily silencing its flaws, and in which movement itself has an aesthetic, rather than merely practical, purpose. Typically Sunday captures an elongated vertical reflection, rushing and bleeding like a single expressive brush stroke. Although Sunday herself is never visible in the frame, she is as much actor as she is director within the drama of these photographs, as she strives to represent not so much the personal characteristics of her subjects, but an essential gesture that connects a given incarnation with the long history of the soul. In her Anima and Animus series, Sunday mediates on eternal masculine and feminine energies, using warlike Koro men and nomadic Tuareg women as subjects. The Anima women are hidden under flowing garments, slanting to left or right or reaching upward like dark flames against the steady white curve of a dune. The Animus figures rise like tough young trees or spears, rooted somewhere beneath the picture plane. Grace and violence here seem cast together in a solid block, As with so many of Elisabeth Sunday's figures, these seem composed of stone or bone more than living flesh. Elisabeth Sunday has shown in galleries and Museums the world over including the Cleveland Museum of Art, Centre cultural Calouste Gulbenkian, Paris, France, the African American Museum, Los Angeles; International Photography Biennial, Brecsia, Italy, UC Berkeley Art Museum; Salle d' Exposition, Arles, France, Le Maison de la Photographie, Aosta, Italy, Exploratorium Museum, San Francisco, CA Smithsonian Anakostia Museum, Center for African American History and Culture, Washington D.C. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and The Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Her work is included in major collections: The Corcoran Art Gallery, The University Art Museum at Berkeley, The Cantor Art Center at Stanford University, The Los Angeles Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Art-Houston, Le Bibliothčque Nationale de Paris, France, The San Francisco Museum of Art, and The Eastman Kodak Collection. Her private collectors include Graham Nash, Quincy Jones, Gloria Steinem, Linda Grey, Bill Cosby, Bonnie Raitt and Alice Walker.
Source Frank Pictures Gallery
Selected Book:
Grace
Author: Elisabeth Sunday
Publisher: Nazraeli Press
Year: 2012 - Pages: 60
For 26 years, Elisabeth Sunday has found her muse in Africa: a place of origins, devastating beauty, great troubles and unyielding expressions of life. She has traveled alone and lived among various original peoples who amidst a changing world, have clung tenaciously to traditional ways of life. From the hunter-gatherers dwelling in the primeval forests of the Congo Basin, to the nomadic tribes inhabiting the vast stretches of the Sahara Desert, Sunday's photographs reveal an interplay of invisible forces that connect her subjects with the world of nature. Utilizing a flexible mirror of her own design, Sunday photographs reflections that blend and dissolve the boundaries between her figures and their environment. Sunday's images express an intimacy with a corresponding strength derived from that relationship. She writes: "Mirror photography is much more than photographing a reflection, it produces a visual alchemy that combines the physical world with that of the great mystery . . . and captures some element that remains hidden in straight photography." Elisabeth Sunday's work has been widely exhibited and collected throughout the United States and abroad. "Grace", the artist's first monograph, opens with an eloquent and enlightening essay by Deborah Willis. The book is printed in an oversized (14 x 17 inch) format on uncoated art paper and bound in Japanese cloth. This first printing is limited to 1,000 copies.
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