Sonja Thomsen with Kari Orvik

FRIDAY, February 9th, 2018  7:30PM

San Francisco Art Institute Osher Lecture Hall

800 Chestnut Street San Francisco, CA

Lecture: $15.00 general admission

All students with/current ID admitted free








I remain fascinated with how differently the myopic lens sees than I do. When constructing an installation, I think about a photographic way of seeing; locating yourself in relation to the world, framing space, and using light and time as material.

Light makes time perceptible. It takes approximately 8 minutes for the photons from the sun to reach us. We construct our own timelines by counting sunrises. Within the installations, light is imaged and fixed and at the same time light is present in the space and dynamic engaging the viewer between; material/image, weight/lightness, part/whole, self/space.

Reflective and luminous media allow me to materialize the elements of photography as things in of themselves. My material choices are driven by an interest in reflecting on and inverting the male culture in photography and the light and space movement. I have begun to work with a shade cloth, responding to its duality refracting light while simultaneously constructing shade. A new installation has allowed me to explore this material and its interactive potential. It encases a series of small constructions and invites a peering through. I continue to use the lens to study new materials, document experiments, and magnify the limitations of image. I use the language of light, in image, reflection, and refraction, to create experiences that highlight the inaccessible. As we get closer, comprehension moves further away. Each installation aims to assess the spaces between - the thresholds - where knowledge is always in a state of becoming.

All photos below © Sonja Thomsen

Kari Orvik

Kari Orvik was born in Canada and specializes in the wet plate collodion process. She moved to the Bay Area from Alaska and learned to make photographs using film, alternative darkroom processes, and by setting up public portrait studios at various locations around San Francisco that called attention to neighborhood change over time. Integrating the physical experience of photography, working with people, and engaging ideas of place continue to be essential components of her work.

“In a city that is in a constant state of transformation, the present is almost as unreliable as the future, posing a daily challenge to our own relationship to change. I look for allegories of a neighborhood told through the tangible ephemera, portraits and stories that still remian. Through my work I ask how we make space for one another, where we place value, and what we hold onto. 

I am also drawn to the physical experience of making photographs; the relationships, time and location in which the images were made, as well as the materials and processes used to create the image objects themselves. I take an experimental and personal approach to the historical process of wet plate collodion, which explores memory and possibility through chemical and metaphoric change.”

Orvik has exhibited at the Berkeley Art Museum, SFCamerawork, the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles and the Headlands Center for the Arts, where she was a graduate fellow. She was an Artist-in-Residence at Rayko Photo Center, and will be in residence at Recology SF in summer 2018.  Orvik’s tintype work has been featured on covers of Popular Photography and in San Francisco Magazine.

Orvik received her undergraduate degree from Stanford and her MFA from UC Berkeley, and has been supported by grants through the San Francisco Arts Commission and the San Francisco Foundation’s Murphy and Cadogan Fellowship. She currently teaches photography and operates her own tintype portrait studio in San Francisco –


All photos below © Kari Orvik