Women Crush Wednesday: Sandra Klein

Women Crush Wednesday: Sandra Klein

Sandra Klein receicved her undergradute and graduate degrees in Printmaking, her work has been featured in magazines like, LenscratchDiffusion, and A Photo Editor. She refers to her digitally layered photographs as visual poems, small stories that evoke universal emotions. The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, CO, Tilt Gallery in Scottsdale, Az and Southeast Center of Photography in Greenville, SC are all places where her work has been shown.In addition Sandra has upcoming shows at the California Museum of Art, Thousand Oaks in California and The Griffin  Museum of Photography in Massachusetts.  

Noisy Brain , Creative Growth ©Sandra Klein

Noisy Brain, Creative Growth ©Sandra Klein

By Margaret Warburton

Can you explain the ideas behind Noisy Brain and Embittered Heart?

Before I answer your specific question, I want to give you a bit of my background, which I think will help you understand my art making.  Both my undergraduate and graduate degrees were in printmaking. I believe that as a result of that, I have intuitively continued throughout many changes in media to utilize a layered approach to my photographs. 

These two series occurred in two different ways, but the structure of the second series, Noisy Brain, wouldn’t have happened at all without Embittered Heart coming first.  

I had been reflecting for some time on how one is affected by heartbreak and betrayal. The reflection was, in the beginning, specifically about my response to the end of my first marriage, which occurred many, many years ago. Foolishly blind to what was happening, I was completely taken off guard when my husband left. It took some time to accept that, not only was the marriage over, but its ending was actually for the best.  The template I used in Embittered Heart was especially influenced by two things: my having lived in Mexico and been engrossed for many years with Latin American imagery and literature; and my love of gardening.  The intertwining of the wounded human heart and plants thus began.

After completing Embittered Heart, I created several less personal series, but was urged by two mentors to return tomore intimate images.  I had trouble finding clarity at the time…and that confusion led tothe Noisy Brain series.  I turned to studying the brain as I had the heart.  

Does each portrait in Noisy Brain have a different story to tell?  Can you give an example?

Embittered Heart , Aloe Mexicano ©Sandra Klein

Embittered Heart, Aloe Mexicano ©Sandra Klein

Each portrait from the Noisy Brain is quite different.   As I searched my garden, I began to see each plant as a symbol of a different response to the pain of heartbreak.  Gasteria Brownie began with a soft, pliable succulent, which suggested to me an example of a heart that had healed and was now open to new beginnings and relationships, while Leonardo Silvernitrate is thorned and uninviting, with its garb of armor, protecting it from the outside world.  

In your series, Embittered Heart, there is a direct visual connection between the human body and plants, can you talk about the meaning behind these connections? 

The plants actually grow out of the wounded heart in most of the images.  The cacti and succulents symbolize sorrow and then, hopefully, rebirth, but often anger and hurt, which lead to self protection and the inability or fear of opening up to others.   The roots are also important in many of the images.  I actually pulled some of the cacti and succulents from the ground to reveal the entire plant.

I read that you sometimes embroider your prints and decorate them with crystals, what does this gesture add to the print?  

I love the idea of transforming the flat photograph into an object.  I love altering the image in various ways, not just while still on the computer, but also after it is printed.  I have also begun adding collage to some of my sewn images. 

What insights have you gained from creating Embittered Heart and Noisy Brain?

First off, of course, I learned so much about art making - about taking photographs and mastering the use of digital imagery to make images.  What has been wonderful have been the responses by people, especially women, who could relate to both series.  Self-portraiture is not always an easy sell and many in the photography community still don’t approve of digital imagery.  I was recently asked in a photography review to respond to the question, “When is a photograph no longer a photograph”.  I responded by saying that the camera is merely a tool to make art.  Both of these series are attempts to understand not just myself, but also humanity. I am gratified thatmy work resonates with so many people. 

Embittered Heart,  German Heart   ©Sandra Klein

Embittered Heart, German Heart ©Sandra Klein

Embittered Heart , Graceful Opuntia   ©Sandra Klein

Embittered Heart, Graceful Opuntia ©Sandra Klein


Describe your creative process in one word.


If you could teach a one, one-hour class on anything, what would it be?

How to create personal art

What is the last book you read or film you saw that inspired you?  

The film 20th Century Women

The books La Rose by Louise Erdrich and A Horse Walked into a Bar by David Grossman

What song do you play the most in your music library?

Currently, Live Forever by The Highwaymen

How do you take your coffee.

I make myself two lattes with non-fat milk each morning.

Embittered Heart,  Mujar Sula ©Sandra Klein

Embittered Heart, Mujar Sula ©Sandra Klein

Embittered Heart , Tiny Heart ©Sandra Klein

Embittered Heart, Tiny Heart ©Sandra Klein




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The Archives: Luis Gispert

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