Klea McKenna, ‘Automatic Earth - Tree Study #3’, 2017, Headlands Center for the Arts: Benefit Auction 2017

Unique / No edition. Klea McKenna’s (Affiliate ’15–’16) work urges light-sensitive materials to interact directly with the natural world; broken patterns from the landscape become allegories for human emotional experience. Her work has been shown and published internationally. Her photograms are held in the collection of SFMOMA; Los Angeles Country Museum of Art; Santa Barbara Museum of Art; The Mead Museum of Art, Amherst, Massachusetts; and the US Embassy Collection. As an Affiliate Artist at Headlands Center for the Arts, McKenna developed her method of “photographic rubbings.” McKenna is represented by Von Lintel Gallery in Los Angeles and by Euqinom Projects in San Francisco. She is the daughter of renegade ethnobotanists Kathleen Harrison and Terence McKenna. McKenna lives in San Francisco with her husband and their young daughter.
–Courtesy of Headlands Center for the Arts

Image rights: Courtesy of the artist, EUQINOMprojects, and Von Lintel Gallery

About Klea McKenna

Although she works with photographic processes, Klea McKenna is not a photographer in any traditional sense. Rather, she engineers ways in which light-sensitive paper can interact with the landscape and natural phenomena, capturing them in ethereal, often semi-abstract images. “This experimental approach means paring down to the simplest ingredients—light and paper—and making images that refer to location only through elemental form and color,” she says. McKenna uses a range of analog techniques, including hand-made cameras, outdoor photograms, and folding her materials to imbue in them an almost sculptural quality. “Ultimately the subject is light, both the science and magic of it and its profound role in our experience,” she says. Her best-known body of work is perhaps her “Rain Studies” series, in which she produces startlingly clear images of raindrops falling by the thousands—solving a longstanding photographic problem in a secret process of her own devising.

American, based in San Francisco, California