Mimi Plumb: What is Remembered

Mimi Plumb: What is Remembered

Growing up outside of San Francisco in the East Bay suburb of Walnut Creek during the 1950s and ‘60s, Mimi Plumb was raised amidst a changing landscape. Driven by a widespread push towards suburban living, the area’s rolling hills transformed into subdivisions as housing developments swept through the Contra Costa countryside. Single-family homes with gable roofs and clean-cut yards bumped up against large swaths of land cleared in preparation for new construction. Strip malls and Standard gas stations dotted the landscape, and youth, largely isolated from the political charge of San Francisco, played under a harsh California sun.

While a student of photography at the San Francisco Art Institute in the 1970s, Plumb revisited her childhood stomping grounds with a 35mm camera and the visual sensibilities of someone who shared a distinct, personal relationship with the landscape. She knew what to look for, where to find it, and how to distill it into a tonally rich and formally striking image. Documenting the suburbs and their inhabitants, she made photographs that recalled the mood and memories of her early years living in these suburban communities. During the ‘70s, Plumb built a large archive of these evocative images before beginning other projects and focusing on her career as an instructor of photography. Most of the images remained archived until recently, when Plumb resurrected the photographs into a series titled, What is Remembered. Originally a personal investigation into the environment that shaped her childhood, the work now speaks to a larger audience, recalling an era of rapid growth in the East Bay and the suburban landscape it created.

Mimi Plumb is a Bay Area artist and educator. Born in Berkeley in 1953, Plumb earned a Master of Fine Arts in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute. She has taught photography at numerous institutions including the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Art Institute, Stanford University, and San Jose State University. Plumb has lectured and exhibited internationally and has been the recipient of grants and fellowships from the California Arts Council, California Humanities, and the James D. Phelan Art Award in Photography. Her work resides in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art in Missouri.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017 to Wednesday, November 1, 2017