Photographs by NORMA I. QUINTANA

May 26 to June 22, 2006

Norma I. Quintana is a photographer and educator working in the tradition of social documentary. Quintana has two extensive and ongoing pictorial bodies of work: the first, CIRCUS, chronicles the life of a traveling one-ring circus; and the second, FORGET ME NOT, is a series of portraits that artfully displays the layered complexities of her California community.

Born and raised in the Midwest, Quintana grew up in a bicultural home and frequently returned to her parents' native Puerto Rico for visits. She earned a Master's degree in Social Sciences, which she credits, in part, to her acute curiosity with her work's sociological underpinnings. Essentially self-taught, Quintana has studied with some of the world's most important and influential photographers, such as Mary Ellen Mark, Shelby Lee Adams, and Graciela Iturbide from Mexico.

For CIRCUS, Quintana has spent over 8 years following and photographing the circus, earning the trust and respect of her subjects. Her photographs are not flash-frozen images but a loving history of an extended family, of another way of living in the world. The San Jose Mercury News said that Quintana's photography of CIRCUS "demonstrates an unflinching eye for humanity's imperfections, an awed respect for the strength to be an outsider and an appreciation of the vulnerability that joins all humanity"

In her FORGET ME NOT series, Quintana recreated a landscape photo booth backdrop and stand similar to the ones from family heirlooms taken in the Caribbean, and set out to photograph and capture the spirit of her community. Her portraits, taken together, form a fascinating mosaic of the people who live and work in the Napa Valley. Quintana sees the people in her world who are at times overlooked or marginalized, and demonstrates a genuine curiosity about their lives. Her project calls to mind the work of Mali photographer Seydo Keita and German photographer August Sander, who tried to give a "total picture" of society.

Quintana works solely in black-and-white and uses only available light. She creates dark, rich, masterful photographs with an ageless, classic purity. Collaboration is essential to her process. The images, Quintana insists, would not be possible without her subjects' willingness to reveal themselves.  She has exhibited widely including Penn State University, American University Museum.

View Norma I. Quintana's portfolio >