b. 1940 Cincinnati, Ohio
Although my work outwardly seems to vary over many years, there are certain links running through all of it. I consistently want to make things that satisfy my sense of beauty. I respond to the tactile nature of things. Another element that pervades it is tension or anxiety. These elements always live within me and are present in all my art. --Jo Ann Callis
Since she emerged in the late 1970s as one of the first important practitioners of the "fabricated photographs" movement, Jo Ann Callis has made adventurous contributions in the areas of color photography, sculpture, painting, and digital imagery. For her, photography is another studio tool to be used, along with the sets she creates and the models she directs, to render the sensual tones and textures of fabric and food, or to animate clay figures of her own making. The persistent inventiveness of Callis's work has made her a force in Southern California art and in recent photographic practice. Callis began her art studies in Ohio in the 1950s, as a high school student in Cincinnati and in college at Ohio State University in Columbus. However, her academic work was interrupted by marriage, a move to Los Angeles, and child rearing. After taking several studio classes at night in an attempt to return to her education in painting and sculpture, she decided to enroll at UCLA and finish her undergraduate degree in the arts. She subsequently entered the graduate studio program. Her professor, Robert Heineken, encouraged her to experiment with photography in the studio, using her skills in the other arts to construct scenes for the camera. Callis began teaching at the California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts) in 1976. A Los Angeles gallery show in 1981 paired Callis's color work with that of Paul Outerbridge. Her avant-garde style of fabricating photographs was subsequently recognized, and her work exhibited and published internationally.