Curator Makeda Best [from Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum] recently talked with photographer Mariette Pathy Allen, who created a groundbreaking portfolio focused on crossdressers in the 1980s, along with artist Allen Frame. The conversation appears in Index Magazine:
MB: Could you tell us about your early career? What drew you to photography?
MPA: I was a painter first. I became a photographer only after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania. By fluke, I met a photographer named Harold Feinstein, and it was through him that I started to do photography.
MB: It’s interesting that you turned to photography from painting. What was your process, and what were your influences? It seems like it was a big leap to move into this kind of photography. I’m curious about how you came up with an approach?
MPA: It was a gradual transition, because for a while I didn’t know how to define myself. As a painter, I was interested in shapes, lines, and space. That never stopped, but I would be alone in a studio all day. As a photographer, however, I could interact with people, and I could still look with the eyes of a painter. Photography was a passport into the world, and it allowed me to have new experiences.