In her early twenties, the American Photographer Mimi Plumb looked back to her Californian childhood to make a series of photographs about suburban youth. The resulting photographs collected in her new book “The White Sky” builds a world in which an unknown trauma hangs heavy in the air, and children rule the roost.
“At 13 we wore faded jeans, torn at the knees, tight white t-shirts, long straight hair parted down the middle. We wandered through the suburban landscape hiding in corners, smoking cigarettes, looking for stuff to do.”
“Throughout my childhood years, growing up beneath the shadow of Mt. Diablo in the California suburb of Walnut Creek, I watched the rolling hills and valleys mushroom with tract homes and strip malls, and to me and my teenage friends, they were the blandest, saddest homes in the world.The starkness of the landscape hurt my eyes. The low brown hills coated with dry grass, scratching my ankles, fox tails caught in my socks. I was always looking for a place to hide from the bright, white sky. The raw dirt yards and treeless streets, model homes expanding exponentially, with imperceptible variation.” – Mimi Plumb
About the Author
Born in Berkeley, and raised in the suburbs of San Francisco, Mimi Plumb has served on the faculties of the San Francisco Art Institute, San Jose State University, Stanford University, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She currently lives in Berkeley, California.
Since the 1970s, Plumb has explored subjects ranging from her suburban roots to the United Farm Workers movement in the fields as they organized for union elections. Her first book, Landfall, published by TBW Books in 2018, is a collection of her images from the 1980s, a dreamlike vision of American dystopia encapsulating the anxieties of a world spinning out of balance. Landfall was shortlisted for the Paris Photo/Aperture Foundation First Photobook Award 2019, and the Lucie Photo Book Prize 2019. Her second book, The White Sky, was published by Stanley/Barker in September 2020.
Plumb received her MFA in photography from SFAI in 1986. Her photographs are in the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Pier 24, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Yale University Art Gallery. She is a 2017 recipient of the John Gutmann Photography Fellowship, and has received grants and fellowships from the California Humanities, the California Arts Council, the James D. Phelan Art Award in Photography, and the Marin Arts Council.