Sunday, November 23, 2008

Remembering Mariana Yampolsky

A Mexican from Uruapan who sometimes comments on my Flickr site wrote, "Your photos remind me of Mariana Yampolsky´s." When I read that my heart skipped a beat. Such a wonderful compliment but it also brought back some special memories.

Many years ago when someone from Mexico was reviewing my portfolio, she said, "Your work reminds me of Mariana Yampolsky. She lives in Mexico City. You really should look her up the next time you are there. I think you two would have a lot to talk about." And that is what I did.

I was able to get her telephone number and so before I left Texas, I called to ask if she might have time to meet me. She was delightful and invited us to dinner in her home. I asked if there was anything she needed and she asked if I could bring her some photographic paper. Mexico was in the middle of a peso devaluation and she wasn't able to buy paper at that time but she needed some for a show she was printing. I took her some paper. She and her husband were so gracious to us and we had a lovely dinner. She asked me how much she owed me for the paper and I said that she did not need to pay me but if she had a work print that she could give me I'd love to have a piece of her work. She opened her flat files and gave me a print and then she casually mentioned that the Museum of Modern Art in NYC had recently purchased this same print for their permanent collection. I saw Mariana Yampolsky several time after that and she always remembered me and was so gracious.

Now I don't think my work holds a candle to Mariana's body of work in Mexico and yet I felt that we did have a kindred spirit in the way we approached light and the way we both loved the commonplace of Mexican life. So you can see why my heart skipped a beat when I read the comment on Flickr.

Mariana Yampolsky was from Chicago but in the 1940's she moved to Mexico and in the 1950's she became a Mexican citizen. Originally she was a printmaker but in the late 1940's she took up photography. Mariana was very much a part of the artistic and photographic community in Mexico. She was in many exhibitions around the world. Several monographs of her work have been published and she is included in many other photography books about Mexico. The monograph I like best was published by the University of Texas Press, The Edge of Time. Mariana died May 3, 2002.


Babs said...

She IS one of my all time favorite photographers! Wow, and you met her! I would have loved to hear that dinner conversation........Of course, it goes without saying, that I love your work too.......

Steve Cotton said...

Billie -- Reading your posts is like opening The Atlantic MOnthly. I always learn about new topics through well-constructed prose. Not to mention these stunning photographs.

glorv1 said...

I looked ar Mariana's photos and I know nothing about photography. I do know that her photos are of the best quality I have ever seen. I don't know the lingo for photo talk like shadows,coloring, etc. I do know that the person who commented on your Flickr site was absolutely correct. I was reminded of your photos as I was looking at Mariana's. Just continue what your do so that others can enjoy your work as we do here on blogland. Thx for sharing.

alcuban said...

Steve: Billie is far more interesting than the Atlantic Monthly.

al lanier