Photography Gallery

Ilka Hartmann Photography: American Portraits

January 23 - March 7, 2010

Curated by Rick Chapman

At the heart of Ilka Hartmann’s photography is the individual who lives in this land, often unnoticed but affected by its complex and painful history and trying to retain human dignity. “I am drawn to the beauty of the human face-the character, the expressions, the humanity.” she explains.

Hartmann moved to the United States, from her native Germany, in 1964 just as the tumultuous years of social unrest and call for change were unfolding. She used the art of photography to bear witness to the powerful social movements of the era: from the Anti-War Movement, to the Black Panther Party, the Indian Occupation of Alcatraz Island, the United Farm Workers, the Anti-Nuclear Movement and the Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Marches in San Francisco. Her evocative images capture the emotion and complexity of the time. She also focused on chronicling American Indian life in cities and reservations and the community in which she settled, Bolinas.

Ilka Hartmann’s work has been exhibited widely, including locally in Yerba Buena Center for the Arts,  Mika, the Oakland Museum, and in permanent Bay Area displays focused on important people and events. On Alcatraz Island her photographs are shown daily in a film that about the Indian Occupation of the island.  Her work also exhibits internationally in  Berlin and Hamburg, at URBIS in Lancaster (England), in China and Brazil.

Her images have been published in Der Spiegel, Encyclopedia Britannica, the Oxford Dictionary, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Smithsonian  Handbook on the North American Indian series and other books, newspapers and magazines. Her photographs are included in films and television programs shown in the United States, Canada and Europe. Among her books are The Town that Fought to Save Itself (with Orville Schell,) a story of Bolinas in the 1970s; Pearson, A Harbor Seal Pup (with Susan Meyers;) and books on the Indian occupation of Alcatraz.  For more of Ilka Hartmann’s work, please see her website