This exhibition draws from a trove of approximately 9,200 Polaroids by April Dawn Alison, the private persona of an Oakland-based commercial photographer known to family, friends, and neighbors as Alan Schaefer (1941–2008). The photographs were made over the course of more than thirty years, and discovered upon the artist’s death. These extraordinary pictures — virtually all of them self-portraits — explore a wide range of feminine archetypes drawn from advertising, motion pictures, and fetish and pornographic imagery, revealing a rich inner life filled with as much humor as pathos, as much joy as loneliness. Together they constitute an intimate personal archive documenting a fully realized self, unseen by others. Posed in the safety of her home, Alison presents herself in her full beauty and humanity in a way she may not have felt free to do in the world, even here in the Bay Area.
Generous support for April Dawn Alison is provided by Wes and Kate Mitchell.