About the Photographer
American, b. 1941 Newport News, VA
Sheila Pinkel’s diverse body of work spans documentary photography to installation work, public art projects, environmental sculpture, and camera-less photography. Her work is united by a concern with revealing the unseen, both literally and figuratively, and accordingly Pinkel has titled her entire oeuvre Sight Unseen. In Pinkel’s words, “Since 1973, all of my work has been about making visible the invisible in nature and in culture. Initially, I used many light sensitive emulsions and technologies to reveal the infinite potential for form in nature and the landscape of my imagination.” Most of Pinkel’s work in the collection of the MoCP represents her camera-less photography, in which she uses light directly on photosensitized materials to create images rather than a camera or enlarger. Pinkel began her exploration of camera-less photography between 1977 and 1983 using xeroradiography, medically used for mammography, at the Xerox Medical Research Center in Pasadena. In 1985 she was included along with nineteen other photographers in the 20/20 portfolio, published by the University of California, Los Angeles, to celebrate twenty years of its MFA in Photography program.
Pinkel completed a BA in Art at the University of California, Berkeley (1963), and an MFA in Photography at the University of California, Los Angeles (1977), studying with Robert Heinecken. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, including in the United States, Canada, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Argentina, Spain, and the Czech Republic. Pinkel is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant (2004), the Hammer Award from the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (1996), and National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Grants (1979, 1982). Her work is held in many collections, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; George Eastman House, Rochester, NY; Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, NY; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the International Center for Photography, New York. Pinkel is Professor of Art at Pomona College in Claremont, CA.