"One moment Erica Deeman was an intern at Pier 24 Photography. The next, she was a featured artist there, her portraits of women from the African diaspora shown in their own gallery between ones dedicated to famous photographers Robert Frank and William Eggleston."
(LSW) I met Erica when I was on my graduate scheme at an ad agency in Leeds. Fresh out of University where I had studied economics, the creative environment of the agency was a real buzz and Erica and I hit it off and became friends. Even as our paths parted, and the years passed, we sporadically stayed in touch. Rooting for each other all the way.
On our last Skype date we talked about her love of photography having blossomed and how she was interning at a super cool gallery in her now home city, San Francisco. And then, last week I get an email sharing news of her work being featured in the gallery and a write up in the San Francisco Chronicle.
I feel compelled to share this work, not only because it moves me so much, but for Erica's personal story which stands as such an inspiration for anyone wanting to flow their creative expression and see where it can take them!
“Silhouettes” started in 2013 as Deeman was transitioning from being an account director in a London advertising agency to fine art photographer in San Francisco. She already had one bachelor’s from Leeds Beckett University and had started on her second.
Always interested in portraiture, she invited an African American woman she did not know to have her picture made at the Academy of Art studio. She set up for a traditional shoot with front lighting but was intrigued by lighting the subject from behind, to create a silhouette.
“When I saw it, I felt something akin to anthropology,” she says. “It was almost sculptural, yet still portraiture.”
Thus began a series of 30 portraits that took nine months. Deeman used strangers she met on the street, friends of friends and people reached through Craigslist ads. The only requirement was that they be willing to pose with shoulders bare.