This Zoom presentation features Marky Kauffmann who has been working as a fine-art photographer and curator for more than thirty years. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a 2017 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist’s Fellowship in Photography. Kauffmann utilizes traditional darkroom techniques, alternative processes, and digital technologies to create her unique images. Kauffmann is also a passionate educator who has taught photography at numerous secondary schools, including Milton Academy and Weston High School. When I asked Marky to speak and I asked her what she would talk about, she wrote:
Growing up female in America in the 1950s has greatly influenced my photography and my curatorial work. I lived in a very sexist household, where the boys ruled the roost. Most of the resources were spent on them, right down to the food we ate. There were dinners at which the boys were served steak while the girls ate cereal. And if there were seconds to be had of anything, the boys got them. What is astonishing is that my sister and I accepted this hierarchy. We truly believed the boys deserved more.
College changed all of that. I took courses in Women’s Studies and learned about feminism. And in my photography classes, I learned that the camera could be a megaphone. Thus I began to “scream and shout” with my photographs, creating images that were a feminist critique of the blossoming cosmetic surgery industry. Along with five other women who were also making work about the lives of women and girls, I curated my first “activist” show called Beyond Mothers and Children: New Feminist Photographers in 1992.
Fast-forward to 2014, and the death of eighty-one year old Joan Rivers. The New York Times paid homage to her by printing her portrait on a full page, noting her birth and death dates. In the image, she is completely wrinkle-free. I had just turned sixty when I saw the image and was aghast. I thought, “Oh my God, am I not allowed to age?” Again, with my camera, I began screaming and shouting, creating my Lost Beauty portfolio that once again critiques the cosmetic surgery industry and the cultural idea of female physical perfection. Wanting to hear other female voices, I went on to curate Outspoken: Seven Women Photographers.