Birgit Maddox has been shooting photography for more than 30 years. She was born in Bietigheim-Bissingen, Germany, and traveled throughout Europe and California, taking pictures as she went, shooting in black and white and working in a darkroom in the 1980s. She took a hiatus from photography to raise a family in Pacific Grove. Eight years ago, she says, “I picked up where I left off.”
She’s worked with local fine art and underwater photographer Ryuijie, she’s tested alternative processes and long exposures, and her subsequent works have been in group shows at the International Center for Photographic Arts in Louisiana, Image Flow in Mill Valley, and Russ Levin Gallery and Photography West in Carmel.
Now she’s opening her first solo show this Friday at Gallery Exposed. But she’s contributed to the local photography scene in other ways; one of her two progenies is the highly regarded local photographer Michelle Magdalena Maddox.
“My mother gave me my artistic sensibility,” Michelle writes. “She poured all her creative energy all over me.”
Birgit was Michelle’s first nude model. They both shoot on film using a Hasselblad camera, and both recently judged the 2019 Weston Scholarship Photography Exhibition (which opens at Monterey Museum of Art the same time as Birgit’s show). The Gallery Exposed exhibition was first conceived as a mother-daughter show, but Michelle says her mother’s work deserves our full attention.
Conversely, Birgit writes, “My daughter says that I inspired her to become a photographer, but she has been a huge inspiration for me.”
The show is called As Above, So Below: A Journey into Mystery. It’s made up of landscapes, like trees reflected in bodies of water, done with a mystical quality that focuses on the elemental beauty of nature and simultaneously plays on the duality of human consciousness. Gallery owner Rachael Short refers to the work as “beautiful, brown toned, silver gelatin prints.”
Some of them, like those of mist-shrouded ocean rocks, have a Medieval ambiance; shots of forest scenes look imposing and inviting; on others, a sepia tint lends a nostalgic feel. Viewers might see traces of Michelle’s hand, eye or sensibility in Birgit’s pictures. Or, in the spirit of Mother’s Day, maybe it’s the other way around.