When I think of Marjorie Salvaterra and view her images I imagine a modern day Gina Lollobrigida sleuthing around the back alleys of Palermo. Dreams of Ferdinando Scianna and his work with ‘Dolce + Gabanna’. But, in fact, she’s a 40 something artist from Los Angeles. She may be Sicilian, (or Italian), like me,…or not. Since, despite my name, I’m also very American. When you start saying,…”Whatever”….you’re pretty much American. And Marjorie Salvaterra is a great American photographer, exhibiting photography with deep, rich blacks, and in my opinion, a sensual European sensibility to the photos.
Marjorie Salvaterra and an Old Canon
Working with mostly just a Canon AE-1 and Kodak Tri-X, she has elevated Black and White photography to a level that exceeds many of the icons in photography. Again, in my view. So, now you know. I’m enamored with her work. She has participated in many exhibits, including Rencontres d’Arles, in Arles, France, “Contrast LA,” at A&I Gallery, Los Angeles; “Alternative Photography,” at Julia Dean Gallery, Los Angeles; and the “Human + Being” show at The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado. She also partook in the Eastman House Museum auction at Sotheby’s in New York. In both 2009 and 2010 she was a runner-up for the Berenice Abbott Prize for Emerging Photographers.
She states her project/book, ‘HER’, is a nod to classic Italian cinema. But in the context of women and how they navigate a world of unrealistic expectations. After all, women are not only our girlfriends and wives, but our mothers, our sisters, our daughters and our workmates.
As a committed photographer, she has at times had to make decisions as to whether to get more film, or take care of school supplies for her two kids. First, and foremost, she’s a Mother, with all the responsibilities that it encompasses. As in most people’s lives, jobs, money and relationships come and go. But life has the persistent ability to go forth. Even if only one step at a time.
Black + White Film
She did study photography in Venice, California with the Julia Dean Photo Workshops. It was this course that fueled her love for Black and White photography. And besides the Canon, she does use toy cameras and sometimes even a Medium format. But always seems to end up back at the 35mm format. And loves grain.
Although she does live in Los Angeles now, she was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. She graduated from the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. She seems to use her theatrical background when constructing her uniquely rich images. A Fellini in LA. When she finally walked into the Icon International photography agency in LA, with a portfolio of the juiciest fiber prints they had probably ever seen, staff immediately felt it was a vision they could get on board with. Even using an old 35mm Canon and the velvet curtains from her son’s room, she has elevated her portraiture to places most photographers can only dream of. Which only goes to prove, you don’t need a credit line at B&H to produce magic.
I know she’s an All-American photographer, but she’ll always conjure up visions of Gina Lollobrigida on set with Federico Fellini to me. Visit her awesome website link below.