Arrangement in Green and Black #2
Portrait of the Photographer’s Mother © Aline Smithson 

Arrangement in Green and Black #17
Portrait of the Photographer’s Mother  © Aline Smithson  

Arrangement in Green and Black #1
Portrait of the Photographer’s Mother © Aline Smithson  

Elizabeth Avedon: What sparked the idea for your series, Arrangement in Green and Black?

Aline Smithson: The idea was sparked when I came across a small print of Arrangement in Gray and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother by James McNeil Whistler at a garage sale.  Whistler has always been one of my favorite painters. Revisiting the composition again made me ponder the possibilities of using it in a photographic series. Within an hour, at two other garage sales, I happened upon a leopard coat and hat,a leopard fabric, a cat painting and a chair that was similar to the one in the painting...and I knew it was a sign to proceed.

My patient 85 year-old mother posed in over 20 ensembles, but unfortunately passed away before seeing the finished series. I am grateful for her sense of humor and the time this series allowed us to be together. 

 EA: Which of the 21 was the first?

AS: The first was the leopard coat and hat and the cat painting. I immediately loved the result and it set my imagination on fire.  I would lie awake at night thinking of combinations and scenarios. I was also working on a couple of other series at the same time. It was a period of immense creativity. 

Fur © Aline Smithson  

Lucy with Mountains from Revisiting Beauty © Aline Smithson
As seen in the 2014 PDN Photo Annual 

I first met ALINE SMITHSON several years ago while I was a reviewer for CENTER's annual Review Santa Fe. I was impressed with all of her work using various subjects and styles. I fell in love with her mysterious black and white series, Inside/Out, and Daughter, a photographic journey from childhood to adolescent to adulthood of her daughter Charlotte; and many of her photographs incorporating her family on their yearly vacations on a lake. 

After a career as a New York Fashion Editor, working along side the greats of fashion photography, including Horst, Mario Testino, Patrick Demarchelier, Arthur Elgort, and Bert Stern, ALINE SMITHSON discovered the family Rolleiflex and never looked back. She has exhibited widely including solo shows at the Griffin Museum of Photography, the Center of Fine Art Photography, the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art, the Lishui Festival in China, the Tagomago Gallery in Barcelona and Paris, and the Wallspace Gallery in Seattle and Santa Barbara. And her latest exhibition, Arrangement in Gray and Black: Portrait of the Photographer's Mother, opened at the Davis Orton Gallery in Hudson New York last week.

Aline radiates her own personal power - she is known as a superstar among her peers. While working full-time on her own photography career, she generously promotes and supports the work of mid-career and emerging photographers daily on her award winning journal, LENSCRATCH; as well as giving workshops at the Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP) and jurying exhibitions and portfolio reviews around the country. 

I spoke with Aline recently about her ongoing work projects, her upcoming exhibition and her collaboration with her mother. Read our full Interview on L'Oeil de la Photography here.

Photographs by Aline Smithson
Arrangement in Gray and Black: Portrait of the Photographer's Mother
May 16 - June 22, 2014
Davis Orton Gallery
114 Warren Street Hudson, NY 12534 USA
Also showing:
Photographs by Meg Birnbaum, Sisters of the Commonwealth

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