From: Hinnenberg, Alison

Photographs, Drawings, Notations -
Past, Present and Future (Tense) -
John Sappington Talks

Date: October 27, 2003
Room: 708
Time: 12 - 1 pm

As a relatively new member of the adjunct faculty here...

I thought it might be useful to start with a little background… I have a bachelor's degree in photography from the Kansas City Art Institute in Missouri where I was born and raised and a masters of fine arts from the San Francisco art institute also in photography. My involvement with image making began in working as a photojournalist and writer. I entered college as a Sociology major but, maintained an involvement with photography through a position as a printer and photographer in a county crime laboratory. I provide these details to point out that my initial interest in image making results not from the presentation of images as art but as documents of cultural or societal events, occurrences and crimes.

Coincidentally, as I was preparing for this presentation - my mother discovered and shipped to me a collection of slides documenting my first public exhibition. As I looked through these images and reflected upon the ideas I was working with in that installation I was reminded of the un-attributable adage that an artist will spend a lifetime communicating essentially one idea and that a life's work actually represents the attempts or variations upon this one idea. I believe this may be the case in my work. In light of this admission, I thought I might try and present the primary tenets or ideas that I've recognized as consistent elements in my own work.

First and foremost this work expresses a consistent interest in how an image or aesthetic experience becomes meaningful both from the perspective of the viewer and as the maker. The meaning of a work of art is not an aspect of the work that is necessarily innate - something taken for granted as having occurred prior to - nor at the works inception but rather, is an aspect of art making that evolves through an engagement with the ideas and images - something which develops over time and fluctuates within varying contexts - both for the artist making the work and for the viewer.

That the meaning of an image is not limited to the physical characteristics we perceive in it, nor the cultural experiences we share in recognition of occasions, people or things - but the unique convergence of past and present personal experiences, associations, thoughts, emotions and opinions we bring to the image or experience of a work. Photography appeals to me as a medium because of a perceived indexical relationship to the real. The specificity it elicits by drawing into a work references, parameters of context (time, place, point of view) make for a rich and complex network of relationships upon which to build conceptual and aesthetic experiences.

Conversely, there is in my work a subversion of this specificity in the image in order to achieve a metaphoric reading or associative experience of the image. There is no finite self contained meaning available in any one image I may present or in any sequence. It is the relationships that develop between the images, notations and drawings presented or the context that evolves in an engagement with these diverse elements wherein the image acquires it's meaning.

Play - My interest has always been the playful rearrangement of references and the convergence of ideas in an effort to elucidate sensorial memories or experiences. Photographs, drawings and notations - references and thoughts - ideas - cast into a frame and forming relationships. Tools, apparatus and concepts carefully constructed or arranged in a desire to encourage meaningful play. Or a play of meaning.


An image/text puzzle/poem made of cross references between my relationship at the time and our experience living and working on the beach, characters acting out a relationship and staged on the beach and the notion that there is a universal language of signs that could represent the experience of being a man and a woman in a relationship. The beach as a metaphor for life or a shared experience.

Relationships between images.
Relationships between methods of communication - image - text - diagrams.
Encouraged play by the participants or the viewers in the sand boxes or small beaches provided.


Altering physiologically process toward the potential exchange of /or communication of an experience through vision versus the presentation of or representational image.

Relationship established between my own experience and the visual experience.
Encouraged viewer to actually see things differently.
Eyeglasses as metaphor for an altered or shared point of view.

Salvation *series
Alice is You *series


Symbols drawn in illustration of the impact of time, travel and diverse experiences on memory and my own sense of identity. There are implied references to place, art history, spirituality and culture. Making a poetic form of a memorandum - abbreviated and or understood within a shared context.

Relationship between image, drawings and text.
Relationship to linguistic theory.
Language as a shared secret or an internal memo:
Reference to art making and the act of framing events and experiences.


Moving to Sonoma I'm removed from the urban environment - more exposed to natural forces, primary forces. In some sense I've reconnected with issues of shelter and safety. Making sense or making meaningful relationships of art making to natural forces at work and play in nature. Theoretically, there is an engagement with elemental issues of architecture and installation.