Margaretta K. Mitchell, Ruth Bernhard, 1978 (28.1983)
Ruth Bernhard (1905-2006). Ruth Bernhard lives in the upstairs flat of a narrow white Victorian house in San Francisco. The staircase runs straight to the top, where both long walls are hung with photographs. Ruth Bernhard is a wiry woman with short curly hair, her alert eyes parenthesized by elegant facial lines. Our conversation takes place near the bay window in the front living room. Everything seems to be white-on-white, floor to ceiling, except for one gray wall. Against all this whiteness countless natural and handmade objects demand my attention: hanging ferns, a feather, a bone, a fossil, a small bronze nude, a geometric shape in brass and others in glass, a curved gun sight lens. All are arranged on stretches of bright-colored felt for the pleasure of seeing and touching (all, that is, except for the miniature dachshund who insists on keeping a safe distance from visitors). Once settled in a chair with a fresh cup of coffee, Ruth Bernhard talks with great ease. Perennially curious about life, Ruth enthusiastically shares her well-formed concepts about making and viewing photographs, about teaching, about her own unfolding as an artist. In her present philosophy of vision and perception she retains the curiosity of childhood. Because of this, our exchange is a cooperative and energetic sharing of ideas and experiences.
Margaretta K. Mitchell: “Recollections: Ten Women of Photography,” 1979, p.30.
Ruth Bernhard, ICP, February 25, 1987: