Mimi Plumb – A Selection From the 1980s
RayKo Photo Center is delighted to present Mimi Plumb’s work from the 1980s when she documented Cesar Chavez’s farm workers and communities in Southern California. These haunting images, often unsettling both aesthetically and thematically, reveal feelings of deep anxiety.
Landfall takes place in California during its post-flowerpower haze. This period was one of transition and indecision.
Born and raised in Walnut Creek
Mimi Plumb hails from Walnut Creek, California, and earned her Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree at the San Francisco Art Institute. Since then, she has taught photography courses at Stanford and San Jose State universities for 28 years, as well as been included in international exhibitions at museums such as the San Francisco Museum of Art, Art Collection Deutsche Borse, Los Angeles County Museum of Art Pier 24, Boston Museum of Fine Arts and Daum Museum of Contemporary Art.
RayKo Photo Center is delighted to present a selection of Plumb’s portraits from the 1980s. These captivating photos capture a world in disarray; suburbia was an antidote for America’s political change.
These photos capture California during its post-flower power haze. Children loitered around undeveloped lots, smoked cigarettes, and gazed up into the sky as their peers lingered around undeveloped lots idly. Both menacing and compassionate, the photographs show us an aspect of adolescence where children exist between two states – their eerie stillness speaks of teenage discontentment.
Her work focuses on social issues.
Mimi Plumb (b. Berkeley) is an accomplished photographer whose work explores social issues and dystopian landscapes. Her books include Landfall (TBW Books 2018), The White Sky (Stanley/Barker 2020), and The Golden City (2022). Her photographs can be found in collections like the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Fine Arts Boston Pier 24, and Daum Museum of Contemporary Art; additionally, she received the John Gutmann Photography Fellowship and taught photography courses at various institutions such as the San Francisco Art Institute.
Plumb’s terrifyingly accurate work perfectly captures the anxiety associated with an American society in transition. Her images from 1970s suburban life reveal a dystopian future where human development continually alters and recontextualizes nature.
Though some of her images are mere documentation of suburban architecture, others activate their environments by adding characters and activating settings through creative imagery. “Lake Nicasio,” 1976, for instance, features an individual lying prone in an empty pool that could pass for a dried-up river bed; further evoking an unnerving feel is pool furniture’s incongruent placement that appears to float within its waters.
Her first book, Landfall, was published in 2018
Mimi Plumb is an award-winning photographer whose photographs explore the relationship between people and the landscapes they inhabit. In her inaugural book Landfall, published by TBW Books in 2018, Mimi investigates society’s anxieties that seem out of control.
Over time, Plumb has explored an array of subjects. She began by documenting her suburban roots before turning her attention to writing United Farmworkers as they organized union elections in the fields. Since then, she has also spent considerable time riding and photographing horses; these photographs capture both passion and sorrow in modern life.
George W. Bush may appear to be an awful president who started two wars designed to last forever and mishandled Hurricane Katrina, yet this novel makes clear he wasn’t simply an idiot; rather he was an out-of-touch leader with no discernible strategies who paid no heed to advice or learned nothing new; an unpredictable dangerous enfant terrible.
Her second book, The White Sky, was published in 2020
Kolbert explores in her second book, The White Sky, various technological solutions scientists are devising to address the climate crisis. From saving dying corals to eliminating invasive species, these efforts aim to mitigate global warming effects and stop its Sixth Extinction event from taking place. Her account also discusses controversial plans such as spraying small particles into the stratosphere to block out sunlight and reduce greenhouse gas levels.
The White Sky is a darkly humorous reflection on human intervention in our natural environment and reveals its unsettling yet beautiful complexity. Perfect for anyone interested in understanding our connection to our surrounding world!
Mimi Plumb is a photographer and educator whose work explores social issues through an aesthetic. Landfall, her first book published by TBW Books in 2018, was shortlisted for both Paris Photo/Aperture Foundation First Photobook Award and Lucie Photo Book Prize – becoming part of an established tradition of socially engaged photographers focused on California.
Her third book, The Golden City, was published in 2022
Plumb began photographing her home region of the Bay Area as soon as she became a young photographer, taking pictures of suburban communities and the people who resided there, as well as landscapes being destroyed by development. Over time, she amassed an extensive archive of these images, only recently editing them into a book form.
Many of her photographs evoke feelings of anxiety and isolation; for instance, one shows a woman hiding her face beneath a white dress, while others show signs of conflict, like one woman holding an armed rifle and another pointing their finger directly at their heads. Although such photos may appear dismal and dour, they convey the world-weariness typifying her generation.
Plumb has been both an artist and educator since she earned her Master of Fine Arts at the San Francisco Art Institute. She has taught photography at SFAI, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Santa Clara University, and San Jose State University, among others, exhibiting internationally as well as lecturing.