PhotoNOLA: Donna Pinckley: Southern Depictions
When Donna Pinckley shared her work at PhotoNOLA it was immediately evident that she is an intuitive portrait photographer. Donna sees right into the soul of her sitter and has the ability to capture adolescents in a way that is truthful and compelling.
A native of Louisiana, Donna received a BFA in photography from Louisiana Tech University and a MFA in photography from University of Texas at Austin. She has received Visual Artist Fellowships from the Mid-America Arts Alliance/NEA and the Arkansas Arts Council. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is also included in several public collections, such as the University of Vera Cruz at Xalapa, Vera Cruz, Mexico, the Photographic Collection at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 2011, she won the Gold, Silver, and Honorable Mention at the PX3 Prix De La Photographie in Paris, France as well as Honorable Mention at the Lens Culture International Exposure Awards. She is currently Associate Professor at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Arkansas.
For over twenty years I have photographed a particular social and cultural group of children in their own environments as an endeavor in portraying them as they see themselves. The children I photograph are neighbors, children of friends or even children who are friends of previous subjects. The distinctiveness of my work is the intimate relationship between my subject and my audience. To achieve this I concentrate on each subject’s mood or feeling and ask them to place themselves in a comfortable surrounding and at times, to include something that is very personal to them.
By utilizing the environmental context in this way I am able to reveal an intimate part of the individual and establish a strong personal connection with them. As a result, the portrait is an honest portrayal of the subjects at this particular moment in their lives and it also serves as a document of this fleeting time. Through the photograph I establish a trusting relationship with the subject and this synergy forms a bond that carries over to the viewer.
I have worked primarily with one subject at a time but over the past couple of years I have been working with siblings or friends or even casual connections of the children. This adds another dimension to the photographs in that the connection between the photographer and the subject must expand and, therefore, the viewer experiences a more layered document.
I am decidedly a photographer and storyteller. The story, as contained within the photograph of each of these children, is told through the details of the environment surrounding them, their stance, the objects they choose to be photographed with and ultimately, their expressions. Within the split second of capturing the photograph all these things are visible and therefore, less fleeting than the actual experience of being an adolescent. – Donna Pinckley
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