Photographer Barbara DuMetz on Bringing Diversity to Both Sides of the Camera
From the ArtCenter College of Design’s Bi-Weekly Podcast
ArtCenter College of Design’s bi-weekly podcast features intimate interviews with leading artists examining the ideas fueling their work and how the creative process can be a catalyst for change—personally, professionally and globally. Hosted by ArtCenter President, Lorne M. Buchman, these conversations examine the many ways in which artists and designers are enriching our lives. ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education; and our mission statement—Learn to create. Influence change—lies at the center of all we do.
Throughout her long and distinguished career as a commercial and fine art photographer, Barbara DuMetz has produced images that feel familiar even if you’re viewing them for the first time. Through her lens, even the most ordinary subject matter has a mythic quality. She has a story to tell that reaches far beyond the frame.
That’s her unique creative gift. And it’s one she began cultivating as an ArtCenter student and ultimately deployed to great effect in editorial spreads for glossy magazines and iconic ads for global brands like Coca Cola and Delta.
Despite her vast reserves of natural talent, it was hardly a given that Barbara would achieve her lofty creative goals as a Black woman making her way in the predominantly white male field of commercial photography in the 1970s and 80s.
And yet she persisted. Against steep odds, Barbara built a professional photography practice from the ground up and paved the way for a new generation of Black female artists. Her personal journey is nearly as inspiring and captivating as her iconic images of such legendary trailblazers as Maya Angelou, Quincy Jones and Thelonius Monk—the latter of whom she first met by chance as a young aspiring photographer.
In this week’s lively, history-soaked Change Lab episode, you’ll hear her describe that encounter with Monk with sheer wonder at his genius. And then, with characteristic humility, she’ll concede, after some prodding, that maybe, just maybe, her work echoes the deeply-felt rhythms of her beloved jazz. As anyone listening to this conversation can attest, Dumetz walks through life to a beat as cool and distinctive as the art she makes.
–Lorne M. Buchman
Barbara DuMetz is an American photographer and pioneer in the field of commercial photography. When she began working in Los Angeles as a commercial photographer in the 1970’s, very few women had established and maintained successful careers in the field, especially African American women. Known for her work with African American celebrities, corporations and images of everyday life in African American communities.