Jo Ann Callis was one of the first female photographers to work extensively with constructed sets, arranging models and objects in ambiguous, sometimes unsettling tableaux. She’s best known for her interiors and still lives but these photos, taken between ’74 and ’77, are some of her earliest work — which she’s largely kept a under wraps until now.
“I put them away for a very long time. I started working at CalArts in 1976, which was a very conceptually oriented school, so I thought these pictures didn’t fit what they might be looking for — and I really needed the teaching job. I remember Judith Keller asking me, ‘Are there any other pictures we haven’t seen?’ I just pretended they didn’t exist, because even at that time I just didn’t think this was appropriate to show.”
They're a bit Guy Bourdin, a little Outerbridge and right in sync with 70s Cindy Sherman – and they look totally today. At the suggestion of some her collectors, recently Callis brought theses shots to the Rose Gallery, where they are now on view in a Santa Monica through the end of the summer.