Vanishing (Portraits)

Photographs by Stephen Sharnoff with commentary by Suzanne Guerlac
A photograph by Stephen Sharnoff.
Thursday, Aug 28, 2008 to Wednesday, Dec 31, 2008
Townsend Center, 220 Stephens Hall
United States

Vanishing (Portraits) features color photographs of miniature (mostly  black and white) cemetery portraits found on  tombstones in the south of France. These portraits of portraits explore themes of history, memorialization and time. Sharnoff writes: “I was moved by two desires: first to record effects of time on the found photographs showing the alterations due to years of exposure;  and second, to preserve the portraits before further damage made them unrecognizable. I felt connected to the person in the picture, and to whoever placed the original photograph there. I also felt as though I were channeling the effort of the original photographer.” 

Stephen Sharnoff grew up in Berkeley and attended the University of Chicago and UC Berkeley.  He pursued various photography projects while working as a carpenter and building contractor in the Berkeley area for nearly twenty years.  With his late wife, Sylvia Duran Sharnoff, and collaborator Irwin Brodo, he produced Lichens of North America (Yale University Press, 2001), which Thomas E. Lovejoy of the Smithsonian Institution described as: "[…] the twenty-first-century lichen equivalent of Audubon's Birds of America.”  Sharnoff has exhibited at the Tongass National Forest in Juneau, Alaska (1991) and the Center for Latin American Studies at UC Berkeley (2002).  His photographic guide to the wildflowers of the Sierra Nevada is forthcoming with University of California Press. He lives in Berkeley and Forcalquier, France. Click here for Sharnoff's exhibit statement.

Suzanne Guerlac is Professor of French at the University of California, Berkeley. Click here for Guerlac's exhibit statement.

Click image to view online gallery.