Elsa Dorfman: Art and Healing

Elsa Dorfman

From the No Hair Day series

September 11, 2011 - November 6, 2011

Members Preview Reception Saturday, September 17, 6pm - 8pm
Artist Talk Wednesday, September 28, 12:30pm
Panel Discussion: No Hair Day Sunday, October 2, 3pm
Photographer Elsa Dorfman in conversation with filmmakers Bob Burns and Deborah Dorsey about their work on the film No Hair Day.

“Dorfman has made strong portraits of one of the most important issues today. Her pictures are both biting and poignant.”
-- Mary Ellen Mark

About the Exhibit

For the past 34 years, photographer Elsa Dorfman has produced personal and commercial portrait photographs of what she calls "affection and survival."  Her current exhibition at the Danforth places examples of early photographs of friends in contrast to images taken for her “No Hair Day " project—the visual story a single afternoon in the lives of three women, all undergoing treatment for breast cancer. In the dozen large-format Polaroids, the three appear strong, anxious, fun-loving, private - in short, they display a gamut of human emotions and behaviors compressed into a day.  Filmmaker Bob Burns Burns recorded the photography session, and the resulting film was produced by PBS as part of the Independent Lens series.

About the Artist

Born in 1937 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Elsa Dorfman studied French Literature at Tufts University before working at Grove Press and The Evergreen Review in New York.  Moving back to Cambridge, she earned an MA in education from Boston College and briefly taught elementary school before learning to use a camera.  Informal portraits of close friends Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley, Laurence Ferlinghetti and others started her career as portrait photographer.  Her oversized Polaroid camera, one of only six worldwide, is used to create very large prints (23" x 23"). She works in New York and in Cambridge, where she also lives.

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