About the Photographer
American, b. 1949 Los Angeles, CA
Born in Los Angeles, California, Jeff Gates completed a BA at Michigan State University, East Lansing (1971), and MA and MFA degrees at the University of California, Los Angeles (1973, 1975). In 1985 he was included along with nineteen other photographers in the 20/20 portfolio, published by UCLA to celebrate twenty years of its MFA photography program, which is held in MoCP's collection. Gates' contribution to the portfolio is a photograph from the larger documentary series In Our Path, which is about an area in Los Angeles that was being demolished to accommodate a freeway. A court injunction filed by homeowners and organizations like the Sierra Club halted the construction, but left a desolate area in the neighborhood in its wake. Gates states, "The work began as a very private response to the environment and the idea of 'home.' Yet, when it was completed and I began speaking with homeowners and government officials involved in the freeway project, the meaning of these photographs changed. They no longer reflected my internal issues but those of the families living there… What began as a group of surreal landscapes became very real.” Gates is currently the Head of New Media Initiatives at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Previously, he has been a professor at Maryland Institute, College of Art; Minneapolis College of Art and Design; the University of Washington, and Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles.