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Zoë Zimmerman on 'Her Dream'

photo-eye Gallery Zoë Zimmerman on Her Dream In an interview, represented artist Zoë Zimmerman speaks about collaborating with her daughter on the seies Her Dream.

Represented artist Zoë Zimmerman in her Taos, NM studio – image: Paul O'Connor

Currently on display at photo-eye Gallery as part of the LOCAL EIGHT exhibition is a selection of new images from Zoe Zimmerman's ongoing series Her Dream.  LOCAL EIGHT is a group exhibition of photographs featuring eight represented artists from Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico and will be on view through April 22nd. Zimmerman’s images from Her Dream are photographed using a large format camera in her studio in Taos, NM in collaboration with her daughter. In honor of the new images and the exhibition, I caught up with Zoe to discuss this fantastic ongoing series.  – Anne Kelly

Fledgling, 2016 – © Zoë Zimmerman

Anne Kelly:   After the birth of your first child you moved your photographic practice into the studio; what was that transition like?

Zoë Zimmerman:     Before having children, my work took place out in the world, away from home. My time was my own. I was accountable to no one and that fact afforded me the freedom to roam until an image sparked me. I could wait for inspiration, wait for the light to be right, the wind to die down. I could wait for another season.

After my first child was born my work moved inside so as to be available to my little one. I could no longer afford to wait for inspiration. I worked when he slept. The light was controlled. The space was controlled. The outcome was a deeper looking in. My universe was reduced but my heart expanded.

AK:     Your ongoing series Her Dream began as a collaboration with your daughter – when was the first image made?

ZZ:     Her Dream began when my daughter was three and very much underfoot in the studio. Previous to that she was too wiggly for large format cameras with long exposures.

Her Dream, 2006 – © Zoë Zimmerman

AK:     How did the first image come to be – was it planned, improvised, or somewhere in-between?

ZZ:     The first picture in the series was planned. It involved a flying pirate ship that had to be rigged to the ceiling. The only spontaneous moment involved a temporary tattoo which my daughter had adhered to her belly. It just didn’t work with my aesthetic. “ Here Mama,” she said, drawing her knees up to cover it. “Now you can’t see it.” That pose has become a recurring theme in the series.

Her Dream IV, 2014 – © Zoë Zimmerman
AK:     Tell us a little more about the collaborative process with your daughter; what is it like?

ZZ:     The collaborative aspect was a natural progression of working together and also an apt reflection of the nature of our relationship. I am her parent but sometimes she is my guide. The fact that I am older and more experienced than she is, does not mean my ideas are better than hers. I learn as much from her as she does from me.

AK:    What is your image-making process like when working in the studio?

ZZ:     As for the technical aspects, well, I am a fan of magical realism in real time in the studio. So, yes, I do light things on fire and fly ships across the room and invite large animals into my space. I know that theses things can be done with photoshop but I came late to the digital party and am still not savvy enough with the computer to ”clone” the magic in. I am more excited by the strange tension of what is simultaneously real and fantastical.

Her Dream V, 2015 – © Zoë Zimmerman
AK:     Do you have a good story to share about the making of one of your new images in LOCAL EIGHT?

ZZ:     A Horse in the Studio: When I built my shooting space, I installed a garage door at one end and when asked why I always said so I could photograph big things like horses in my studio. When I finally had a horse in the studio, I realized how potentially dangerous and truly crazy that idea was.
I had a young intern assisting that day and her sole job was to stand by with a snow shovel to clean up after my very large model. Needless to say, she did not ask to work with me again. No one ever expects that being a photo assistant is such a horseshit job.

Zoë Zimmerman will be participating in a Gallery Talk for LOCAL EIGHT Saturday, Apr. 15th at 2:00pm at photo-eye Gallery.

Archival Pigment Prints of Zimmerman's work in LOCAL EIGHT are available at 24 x 20 inches in limited editions of 24.

For more information, and to purchase prints, please contact Gallery Staff at 505.988.5152 x 202 or


See More Work By Zoë Zimmerman

Purchase a copy of Zimmerman's monograph
OF MEN: Strength and Vulnerability