American, born 1953
Jo Whaley combines the sensuality of painting with the veracity of the camera, and creates beautifully baroque photographic tableaux still life works. With a definiteness of line, a subtlety of form, and a brilliance and fullness of color and light, Whaley’s depictions of nature are equally descriptively clear, as they are powerfully abstract, capturing the dissonance between the organic and the artificial, while meditating upon the oxymoron of the “still-life” genre. It was her work as a scenic artist for the San Francisco Opera and other Bay Area theatrical companies that imbued her work with these theatrical sensibilities. Of her work the artist explains “It naturally occurred. I was working on sets in the theater, and I started creating sets in my studio, which was in an old Dutch Boy paint factory in East Oakland. For the early photographs, I painted backdrops, as in the theater—the tabletop for the still life became the proscenium stage. The objects were the actors on the stage and their placement became the dialogue.”
Jo Whaley was born in 1953 in Sacramento, California. She received her B.A., M.A. and M.F.A from the University of California at Berkeley. In 1994 she was awarded a Visual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work, exhibited for more than thirty-four years, is held in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Oakland Museum; and the WestLicht Schauplatz für Fotografie, Vienna among others.