Rita Bernstein Statement

Artist Statement
Portfolio 1:
When people describe me as a photographer of children, I tend to bristle. Although my subjects are undeniably young people, it is not my intention to examine childhood specifically. Rather, I am interested more broadly in the complex mysteries of the human psyche. I find the uninhibited behavior of young people to be a rich source of clues to the interior life generally; with awkwardness and eloquence, children experience the same psychological and social dramas with which we continue to struggle as adults. I am entranced equally by children’s grace and their missteps. They falter and make midcourse corrections. They almost never give up.

I am a reluctant traveler so almost all my photographs are made close to home, either in the city or near our family’s summer cottage in central Pennsylvania. Some of my subjects are strangers but most I know very well and have photographed frequently as they have grown and changed. I work intuitively, discovering rather than orchestrating my pictures, and gravitating toward situations that are evocative of my own memories, fears, and longings.

The photographs in this portfolio are presented as toned gelatin silver prints.

Portfolio 2:
My artistic territory is the psychological landscape. Wanting more feeling, and less detail, in my pictures, I began this series using pinhole and other unconventional and vintage cameras. I sought a process and materials that were sympathetic to my intentions and subject matter. Traditional photo paper felt too slick, too one dimensional, and too uniform. By hand applying silver emulsion to handmade Japanese Gampi paper, I was able to achieve a result that is tactile and sculptural, flawed but lovely. Each is one of a kind, with its own unique qualities and imperfections.

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