I was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1950. I first exhibited my art, a drawing of a blond Asian lady standing on a stage, at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum when I was five years old. In the third grade, I took my first photograph entitled “Miss Wolf and the Seals at the Aquarium.” These two events foretold the course of my life. After studying art at NYU and Cooper Union, I went to graduate school at California Institute of the Arts, where I studied conceptual art with John Baldessari and Allen Kaprow. It was the early 1970s when I began to study photography, which was finally becoming accepted as a fine art. I was discovering the world through my camera.
I moved back to New York City and in 1975, I self-published three conceptual artist books, Landscape, See and Tahitian Eve. In 1976, I began to work on a series of photographic reconstructions of memories of my early life. This compilation of humorous images about female adolescence, each complemented with a short text, was published as Re-visions by The Coach House Press in Toronto in 1978.
The late 1970s pulsated with an electric energy. Conceptual art and interdisciplinary art replaced Minimal Art. Rock musicians and artists alike were graduating from art schools. Painters were making films. Writers were doing performance art. Sculptors were doing installations. Artists were acting in films, making music and collaborating with each other.
It was in this milieu that I taught photography at Queens College and NYU by day and went out every night to hear music at CBGB’s, Max’s and the Mudd Club, which was also a venue for various artistic events, film showings, readings and theme parties. Guilty at spending so much time in clubs, I convinced myself that my photographic forays into the night, were my art. After taking candid pictures backstage or in dressing rooms at clubs, I would often invite people to my studio for photo sessions where atmosphere could be generated, lighting could be manipulated and props could be employed. My work with the Soho Weekly News, New York Magazine and other periodicals gave me access to photograph people who were well known in the popular culture.
After Re-visions, I decided to explore parts unknown. I traveled to Egypt alone and became the virtual prisoner of a deranged Arab soldier. Good out of bad, this abrupt exposure to ungovernable maleness led me to my next great subject: Bad Boys. I felt compelled to record the emotional geography of the human face so I submerged myself in portraiture. The fact that I was a woman photographing men was crucial to the dynamic of my project.
Combining confrontation with collaboration, I explored fame, sexuality and individual style. While photographing Johnny Thunders, John Lydon and other leading figures in the punk music scene, my focus broadened to include portraits from all the arts, including cultural icons Andy Warhol, William Burroughs, John Belushi and Mick Jagger. My photographs are exhibited internationally and are in major museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art, NYC, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC, George Eastman House, Rochester, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, New York Public Library, Jewish Museum, NYC, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam and Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
My photo book “Punks, Poets and Provocateurs: New York City Bad Boys 1977-1982”, written by Victor Bockris with additional texts by John Waters, Richard Hell, Gary Indiana, Max Blagg, Roy Trakin, Liz Derringer, Anthony Haden-Guest and myself has been published by Insight Editions in 2015. It can be ordered online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.
I presently live and work in New York City.