Jane Olin has received many honors and awards, including induction
into the National Association of Women Artists at the New York Metropolitan
Museum of Art in 2008. Her pieces are intuitive photographs of women
and nature that are expressive and subtly shaded.
Her photographs have been consistently exhibited throughout the
United Sates and Europe. Her work has been featured in numerous
photography and fine-art galleries, museums and universities, and
resides in private and public collections. Along with a surrealistic
reliance on chance, Olin’s artistic process creates work that
seems to have hidden, possibly alchemical meanings.
I’m a film and darkroom artist. However, if my work demands
a hybrid (darkroom/digital) solution as in my current project, Site/Sight
Unseen, I embrace it.
My daily intention of trusting my intuition, while practicing present
moment awareness, helps sustain and nurture a style that is unique
to me. Experimenting and pushing photographic boundaries, both in
the darkroom and while making images, are crucial to my work. I
use all at my disposal in my darkroom - unique toning, creative
use of farmer’s reducer, over or under exposing print/negative,
the use of soft focus, and the use of photographic chemicals in
unique ways - never fearing to break rules. I embrace creative accidents,
like the one that led to my current series, Site/Sight Unseen, and
feel liberated when abandoning the path dictated by darkroom procedure.
I persevere until I’ve created the image my intuition demands.
To imbue a flat, two-dimensional photographic surface with the energy
of spirit, my own and that of the thing I’m photographing,
is my goal.
More than twenty-five years ago, my life erupted urging me to take
a step back, slow down and finally acknowledge an unease that beckoned
in quiet moments and in night dreams. Life can be magical when answers
emerge to bare-boned questions bubbling just beneath one’s
awareness. I recall, as if it were yesterday, discussing with my
talented college-age son that he could be a very successful artist.
A palpable silence enveloped us only to be interrupted when he confessed
that he had other plans for his life. At that moment, a wave of
energy flooded my body and awakened me to the realization that it
was I who wanted to be an artist! With that sweet transient moment,
my life changed forever.
Very early in my career, Ruth Bernhard, a mentor and instructor,
said that I have my thumb print on my work – that I have a
signature style that is recognizable in all of my work even though
each series is different and often experimental. My daily intention
of trusting my intuition, while practicing present moment awareness,
helps sustain and nurture a style that is unique to me.
I was fortunate to live most of my childhood in a small, tranquil
village (Steilacoom, Washington) overlooking the cool waters of
Puget Sound. Childhood was an adventure of discovery and creating.
I loved drawing, coloring and daydreaming. I spent hours gazing
at cloud formations making up stories about what I saw. Making doll
clothes out of scraps of clothe was an ongoing joy and challenge.
Quiet Sound Series is a meditation on that period of my life. I
traveled to Steilacoom over several years beginning in 2000. Photographing
with my Leonardo pinhole camera, I captured images that ultimately
became Quiet Sound.
During the years before launching my art career, I raised two children,
started a Company, Sierra Instruments, Inc. with my husband, John
and worked full-time as V.P. of Marketing for our Company.
In 2010, I was selected as one of four panelists at the Center for
Photographic Art in Carmel, CA, discussing Women In Photography.
Women’s issues have been of interest to me since the seventies.
My second body of work, “Greta, A Woman’s Journey of
Self Discovery” amplifies on this theme and was shown as part
of this event. The work was created in the late nineties but is
still relevant today.
My mentor, Ruth Bernhard, on the occasion of her 100th birthday,
looked deeply into my eyes and said, “Keep photographing and
working; don’t stop no matter what.” Words I live by.
SELECTED HONORS and AWARDS
• Best of Show For Foreign Artists, Third International Women’s
Photography Festival Smolensk, Russia. 1994.
• Awards of Merit, California Works, Sacramento, CA, 1994
• First Place Award for Photography, KTEH Art International.
• Award of Excellence, Best of Photography Annual, Photographer’s
Forum Magazine. 2002.
• Second Place Winner, Camera Club of New York, juror Joyce
Tenneson, New York, NY, 2003.
• First Place Winner, Smithtown Township Art Council, juror
Josephine Sacabo, Jamestown, NY, 2007.
• Honorable Mention, Camera Club of New York, juror Larry
Fink, New York, NY, 2008.
• Second Place Winner, National Association of Women Artists,
New York, NY, 2008.
• First Place Winner, Pen and Brush Gallery, juror Roy de
Carava, New York, NY, 2008.
• Marion de Sola Mendez Memorial Award for Printmaking, N.A.W.A,
New York, NY, 2009.
• Jurors Awards of Merit, International Fine Art Photography
Competition: Grand Prix de la Decouverte,
Paris, France, 2012.
• Finalist, Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Women Photographers,
London, England, 2012.
• Gold Medal Award, San Francisco International Photography
Exhibition, San Francisco, CA, 2013.
Women In Photography International, Out of Focus On-Line Juried
Exhibition, Juror, Cat Jimenez, Los Angeles, CA, 2013, Tag Gallery,
Santa Monica, CA, “2012 California Open”; Maryland Federation
of Art, Annapolis, MD; Pen & Brush Gallery, New York, NY; National
Association of Women Artists, New York, NY; Camera Club of New York,
NY; Smithtown Township Art Council, Jamestown, New York; Lisa Coscino
Gallery, Pacific Grove, CA, (one person show), Galleria Tondinelli,
Rome, Italy; California College of Arts and Crafts, San Francisco,
CA; Center for Photographic Art, Carmel, CA; Contemporary Museum,
Baltimore, MD; France-Ameriques Association, Paris, France; Gallery
500, Elkin Park, PA; International Women’s Photography Festivals,
Smolensk–1995 and Ryazan–1994, Russia; La Gallerie Internationale,
Palo Alto, CA; Monterey Museum of Art, Monterey, CA; Moscow Photo
Center, Moscow, Russia; Museum of Los Gatos, Los Gatos, CA; Photographic
Center Northwest, Seattle, WA; Salon d’Automne 2000, 2001,
2003, Paris, France; Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA; Stepping
Stone Photography Gallery, Huntington, NY
• Best of Photography Annual 2002, Photographer’s Forum
• International Women Artists, Volume 2, 2001, Alliance of
• Photography Quarterly, Spring 2001, Center for Photography
at Woodstock, Woodstock, NY
• Salon d’Automne, Exhibition Catalogues, 2000, 2001,
2003, Paris, France
• National Association of Women Artists, 120th Annual Exhibition
Catalogue, New York, NY, 2009
• Center for Photographic Art, Fine Print Program, Carmel,
• Tag Gallery, 2012 California Open Exhibition Catalogue,
Santa Monica, CA, 2012
FINE-ART PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS
• Trustee, Monterey Museum of Art, Monterey, CA, 1998-2002
• Guest Curator, Making Strides…Creating Art, Monterey
Museum of Art, Monterey, CA, 1999
• Alliance of Women Artists, San Francisco, CA, 2000-Present
• EAP Committee, Monterey Museum of Art, Monterey, CA, 2005-2008
• Women in Photography International, 2008-Present
• Image Makers, Monterey, CA, 2008-Present
• National Association of Women Artists, New York, NY, 2008-Present
• Center For Photographic Art, Carmel, CA, “Women In
Photography” Panel. 2010
• Center for Photographic Art, Carmel, CA, Advisory Council,
• The Pen & Brush, Inc., New York, NY, 2008-Present
• Center for Photographic Art, Carmel, CA, Selected Artist
for Fine Print Program, 2011
University of Minnesota, B.A. Philosophy and History
Photography workshops with Master Photographers:
Ruth Bernhard, Joyce Tenneson, Martha Casanave, Dan Esterbrook,
John Sexton, Brian Taylor, Holly Roberts, Elizabeth Opalenik, Christopher
- JULY 2015 - MARCH 2016
* Center for Photographic Art, Carmel, CA, Olin + Opalenik: On the
Edge of Chance, January 17 – February 27, 2016
* Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara, CA, Through the Lens of Four,
July -September 2015
* Green Chalk Contemporary Gallery, Monterey, CA, Independent Presence,
June – August 2015
* Green Chalk Contemporary Gallery, Monterey, CA, Best Bet! August
* Pajaro Valley Arts Council, Watsonville, CA, Photo Alchemy, March-April
2015, Ted Orland and Tobin Keller jurors
* Art Intersection, Gilbert, AZ, Light Sensitive, March-April 2015,
Robert Hirsch juror
* Center for Photographic Art, Carmel, CA. International Juried
Exhibition, A Portfolio Competition,
January - February 2015, Douglas Marshall juror
* Online exhibition, New York Center for Photographic Art, Wandering
Curves, 2015, Debra Klomp Ching juror
* Online exhibition, Women in Photography International, I AM Woman,
I AM Digital, 2015
• Olin + Opalenik: On the Edge of Chance, Center for Photographic
Carmel, CA, 2016
Art by the Slice, Carmel Magazine, Summer/Fall, Carmel, CA, 2015
Independent Presence, Green Chalk Contemporary Gallery catalog,
Monterey, CA, 2015
Wandering Curves, New York Center for Photographic Art catalog,
2015 International Juried Exhibition, A Portfolio Competition, Center
for Photographic Art catalog, Carmel, CA,
Diffusion: The Matter of Light, One Twelve Publishing, Portland,
2014 Juried Exhibition, Center for Photographic Art catalog, Carmel,
Illumination: An Exhibition of Fine Art Photography, Agora Gallery
catalog, New York, NY, 2014
SELECTED HONORS AND AWARDS
Honorable Mention, New York Center for Photographic Art International
Competition, New York, NY, 2015, Debra Klomp Ching, Klompching Gallery,
Honorable Mention, Diffusion: The Matter of Light, Portland, OR,
2014, Katherine Ware juror
Juror Award, Women In Photography International, Los Angeles, CA,
2013, Cat Jimenez juror
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA
Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara, CA
Monterey Museum of Art, Monterey, CA
Women in Photography International Archive, Beinecke Library, Yale
University, New Haven, CT
Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, Monterey, CA
EXHIBITIONS + WRITTEN STATEMENTS
Center for Photographic Art, Carmel, CA, Jane Olin + Elizabeth Opalenik:
On the Edge of Chance, January – February 2016
Jane Olin and Elizabeth Opalenik, whose work comprises the exhibition
On the Edge of Chance, share the philosophy of a long line of photographic
innovators. From its beginnings, practitioners have recognized the
medium’s potential for innovation, and conceived of a variety
of surrealistic manipulations and compositional experiments. Man
Ray’s rayographs, André Kertész’s distortions,
Lucas Samaras’s Polaroid manipulations, and even David Hockney’s
composites are just a tiny sampling of the range of creative possibilities
in photography. Olin and Opalenik are also explorers, gravitating
to the boundaries of the familiar, each following a singular path.
Both have grown to embrace the gifts that chance provides, and to
make intuition an ally of their practice.
Although she began studying with West Coast “straight”
photographers over thirty years ago, Jane Olin took off quickly
on her own path. The photographic prerequisite of documenting the
environment never inspired her very much. Instead she was interested
in depicting what lies beneath the surface of things and seeking
a way towards making the invisible visible. She found inspiration
in the words of artist Paul Klee: “Are we merely noting things
seen in order to remember them or are we trying to reveal what is
not visible? Once we know and feel this distinction, we have come
to the fundamental point of artistic creation.”
Olin’s current groundbreaking series Site/Sight Unseen originated
with a trip to Havana, Cuba, where she photographed a patch of intertwined
sticks falling against a wall. While working on the negatives in
her darkroom, one unfixed print was inadvertently forgotten, and
lingered in the developer all day. This accident gave the chemicals
time to act on the silver gelatin paper. As Olin says, “it
upended my darkroom methodology. I switched from working with a
preconceived idea to interacting with the print in process.”
She has continued to work with the Havana negatives, and has developed
an astonishing variety of images based on them. They range from
intergalactic apparitions, to fire or storms of submerged cloud,
wind, or water in subtle tonalities of pale gold, bronze, iron and
silver. Despite their diversity, these otherworldly images remain
bound together by the intertwined sticks that mark each one. In
some examples they are merely shadow, in others they are strong
and anchoring, but taken together they are like a mantra, infusing
the series with the spirit of place and maker. A practitioner of
mindfulness meditation, Olin feels that each print is an example
of present moment awareness. She must focus on the chemical changes
as they occur, and in working with a process that she barely controls,
she is always responding to whatever chance offers.
Jane Olin’s daring photographic inventions capture barely
controlled chemical interactions in exquisite variation. Both photographers
create at the edge of the possible, working in what photographer
Henri Cartier-Bresson calls “the decisive moment.” They
have each formed an alliance with the forces of chance and have
eagerly embraced what they found.
Green Chalk Contemporary Gallery, Monterey, CA, Independent Presence,
June - August, 2015
Independent Presence, an exhibition by five artists, expresses each
artist’s relationship with her inner world, the natural world,
and photographic history. Mystery, nature, and narrative themes
wind their way through the work of these accomplished women artists.
The ideas presented are evidence of not only self-reflection, but
also adventurous intuitive explorations.
The artists of Independent Presence bring us an exhibit from a place
known for its photographic roots, where knowledge and technique
have been passed hand-to-hand for decades. Living and working in
Monterey, one feels the presence of West Coast Photography legends
such as Imogen Cunningham and Ruth Bernhard. Cunningham once said,
“anybody is influenced by where and how he lives.” Yet
these five women artists have evolved beyond their photographic
roots, in particular the rigidity of the f64 photography manifesto,
while embracing the mystic philosophy of the movement.
The artists share a dedication to unique and expressive photographic
processes. Their courage with their processes and their belief in
its power to transcend the subject matter is what bonds them in
their regular Salon Jane meetings. The group holds that their true
work is made when an idea or subject bodily resonates with the artist.
Those strong feelings compel energy in expression.
The art in this exhibition is grounded in the history of photography:
from pinhole cameras and darkroom alchemy to digital composites.
The artists all explore their craft and subjects with curiosity
and depth, yet the work goes beyond this medium. Instead, the art
brings the power of presence to restless enigmatic scenes, creating
images which are loose enough to be interpreted without literal
Robin Robinson, Artist + Writer
UPDATE - MARCH 2016
- APRIL 2017
OLIN: ON THE EDGE OF CHANCE
Site/Sight Unseen - new work
Intimate Conversation (Tree Project). Catalog (41 pages).
Published to coincide with the exhibition at Viewpoint Gallery in
Sacramento, June 2017
“If one really wishes to be master of an art, technical knowledge
of it is not enough. One has to transcend technique so that
art becomes an ‘artless art’ growing out of the unconscious.”
Jane Olin shares the philosophy of a long line of photographic innovators.
From the start, practitioners have recognized the medium’s
potential, and conceived of a variety of surrealistic manipulations
and compositional experiments. Man Ray’s rayographs, André
Kertész’s distortions, Lucas Samaras’s Polaroid
manipulations, and even David Hockney’s composites are just
a tiny sampling of the range of creative possibilities in photography.
Like them, Olin is also an explorer, gravitating to the boundaries
of the unfamiliar. She has chosen to embrace the gifts that chance
provides, and to make intuition an ally of her practice.
Although Olin began working with West Coast straight photographers
over twenty-five years ago, she quickly took off on her own path.
The traditional photography prerequisite of documenting the natural
environment never inspired her very much. Instead she wanted to
depict what lies beneath the surface of things, and she was unafraid
to break photographic rules in order to do so. Olin experimented
from the start, with simple pinhole cameras and with focus and exposure
in the darkroom. She found that using unconventional adjustments
could influence perception and capture the subtle mystery she was
looking for. This approach is reflected in Olin’s deep appreciation
of Japanese aesthetics, particularly the concept of Yugen. Arising
from Zen Buddhism, its definition is elusive, but refers to the
profound subtlety or mystery within or beneath the surface of things.
It also indicates a “paring down to the essence of a thing,”
and suggests a delicate harmony or quality of beauty that lies beneath
the surface. As she continued to work, Olin’s personal aesthetic
developed along these lines, and found true expression in her groundbreaking
series, Site/Sight Unseen.
Site/Sight Unseen originated with a trip to Havana, Cuba, where
Olin photographed a patch of intertwined sticks falling against
a wall. While working on the negatives in her darkroom, one unfixed
print was inadvertently forgotten, and lingered in the darkroom
sink all day. This incident gave the chemicals time to act on the
silver gelatin paper. When she rediscovered the print, its unexpected
beauty startled her. As she says, “it upended my darkroom
methodology. I switched from working with a preconceived idea to
interacting with the print in process.” Olin continued to
work with the Havana negatives, developing an astonishing variety
of images based on them. Ranging from intergalactic apparitions,
to fire, or storms of submerged cloud, or trails of wind, or water,
they radiate subtle tonalities of pale gold, bronze, iron and silver.
Despite their diversity, these otherworldly images remain bound
together by the intertwined sticks that mark each one. In some instances
they are merely shadow, in others they are clear and anchoring,
but taken together they act like a mantra that infuses the series
with the spirit of place and maker. A practitioner of mindfulness
meditation, Olin feels that each print is an expression of present
Working this way led Olin to consider how she might expand on its
potential, and what came to her mind were trees. As a child, she
and her sister spent hours playing in the forest just outside their
door. Being surrounded by trees gave her a sense of comfort and
peace, and she has imagined them as protective friends ever since.
Olin has always photographed trees, but never felt satisfied that
she had captured what she sought. But in adopting the process developed
for the Havana photographs, she found the right voice. The series
title, Intimate Conversation, suggests her deep connection to the
subject. Yet these images also convey a vaguely ominous undertone,
in recognition that one can no longer think of trees without an
awareness of the threats they face. Changing climate means potential
weakening from the stress of higher temperatures, or the struggle
of navigating to cooler elevations through seed dispersal, leaving
many species’ future in doubt. Olin freely acknowledges that
this perspective is active in her work, in the same way that the
shock of a clear-cut forest she saw as a child has never left her.
But although there are uneasy undercurrents in her images, there
is also sparkle and light. Shadowy elements meet others that gleam,
and luminous auras emerge from the dark to collaborate and contend,
lending her trees a dynamic energy that reveals their grandeur.
Like a poem, Dark Moon Midnight or The Stars Align reorganizes our
perceptions to reveal the familiar in a startling new way. These
trees arise from the ordinary world and take their place in an extraordinary
Jane Olin’s daring photographic inventions capture barely
controlled chemical interactions in astonishing variations. She
composes her images over long hours and, in a kind of alchemical
transformation, brings them to fruition through a succession of
moment-by-moment choices. Attending to and building upon each change
as it occurs, she develops the striking forms and tonalities of
her prints. Working at the edge of the possible, she reinterprets
Henri Cartier-Bresson’s iconic photographic approach of “the
decisive moment” to her work in the darkroom. In embracing
an alliance of accident, skillful focus, and intuition, she has
liberated her process and brought forth an innovative and deeply
engrossing body of work.
• Viewpoint Gallery, Sacramento, CA, On the Edge of Chance,
• Awakening, Invitational Exhibition, Carmel, CA, February
• Art Intersection, Gilbert, AZ, Independent Presence Invitational
Exhibition, January- February 2017
• Center for Photographic Art, Carmel, CA, October 2016 International
Juried Exhibition, Linde B. Lehtinen juror
• Sand City Art Committee Juried Competition, Sand City, CA,
August-September 2016, Gail Enns juror
• West End Celebration, Sand City, CA, Independent Presence
Invitational Exhibition, August 2016
• A Smith Gallery, Johnson City, TX, Pinhole, July-August
2016, Amanda Smith juror
• National Association of Women Artists, Pittsburgh, PA, In-Visible,
March-May 2016, John Carson juror
• Pushing the Wet Darkroom: with Steve Zmak, featuring photographers
Martha Casanave, Jane Olin and Robin V. Robinson, 2016
• Independent Presence, West End Kick off Exhibition: narrated
by Charlotte Chapman, with photographers Jane Olin, Robin V. Robinson
and Robin Ward, 2016
2017 Art Intersection Gallery, Gilbert, AZ, Speaking Engagement:
2017 Monterey Museum of Art, Monterey, CA, Speaking Engagement:
My Evolution as an Artist
2015 Center for Photographic Art, Carmel, CA, Speaking Engagement:
On the Edge of Chance
2014 Monterey Museum of Art, Monterey, CA, Speaking Engagement:
Director’s Dialogue Conversation with Jane Olin, Martha Casanave,
Robin Ward, Susan Hyde Greene
• Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA ADDITION FROM
2014 AND 2015
Women In Photography
International Charter Member
Carmel Valley, CA
©Copyright for all images remains the property of exhibited
photographer, and promotional use for Women In Photography International.
All inquiries regarding use of and purchasing image use rights must
be directed to the photographer.
File: GALLERY & BIO complete August 30, 2014
File Update: 4/26 five 6x6" photo booklets
MARCH 2016 - APRIL 2017
FINAL: May 2017 website content 1999-2017
womeninphotography.org file transfer to the Beinecke.
All organization files, computer, external hard drive, printed materials,
DVDs, books, competitions files and onsite installation art