Excerpt from
" Polaroid Manipulations"
© Kathleen Thormod Carr
Amphoto Books 2002

Cynthia Johnson-Bianchetta has been a fine-art photographer for over twenty years, while being involved in her career as a curator and arts administrator. She was part of the founding staff and the assistant director of the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego's cultural center of Balboa Park, and later was the director of the Weston Gallery in Carmel, California. In addition, she has been a photographic assistant to Paul Caponigro in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She makes her home and studio on the cliffs of the Pacific in Big Sur, California, with her photographer husband, Daniel Bianchetta, and is a creative-uses consultant for Polaroid and on the board of directors for the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel. She leads workshops for the Taos Institute of Arts, Esalen Institute, Big Sur Photography Workshops, and with Kathleen Carr, coleads annual Women's Creativity retreats.

Johnson-Bianchetta's emphasis is in the intuitive aspects of the art form and exploring a blending of artistic mediums with personal process and spiritual practice. She has found that the imagetransfer process creates the dreamlike states that have guided her in her creative work:

" The creative process calls me into the moment, to be present for the movement of creative inspiration to work through me. It is the same journey that many artists and mystics speak of. I may find my connection with it through my night dreams, or the daydreams or visions that come to me. Perhaps the image appears as a guide to healing that I, or the collective, or the planet may be in need of. I make myself available and open, and I respond by exploring through imagemaking.

" I feel as photographers we 'lift the veils on the unseen world' . . . offering a glimpse into other realities that feed us and nurture us on a more spiritual level. Working with instant materials, I have an immediate palette to work with, and am as spontaneous and in the moment as I can be. I often use Polaroid slide film as well as Polacolor peel-apart films.

" For the most part, I transfer onto Arches 1401b hot-press watercolor paper, which gives the image a base of texture to create upon. I then work the image later with watercolor pencil, chalk, pastels, and raw metallic pigment. The process of image transfer has so many variables. I love the surprise of the mysterious taking over, as if I am cocreating with the Great Mystery as my hands rework the hue, shape, and form. By adding color, an entirely different mood may emerge from the original image and offer an unplanned experience.

" Recently, I have been working live with the 20x24 camera in San Francisco. Again, though I may have a plan in mind, the mysterious takes over in the actual creating of the image, and that continues to excite me. Unlike other photographic processes that require a great amount of preciseness and control, in working with the image transfer, I am taught to let go and that, to me, offers more creative freedom and excitement.

" I am interested in combining images to create an expanded image, as in turning the slide in different directions to form altar pieces, mandalas, diptychs, and triptychs—ultimately offering more movement—or perhaps using the photograph as storyteller. I am also a dancer, so when I place myself in an image it becomes not only a self-portrait, but also a performance art piece without an audience. Later the viewer becomes the audience and may have the possibility to also step into the dream, or hopefully invite healing. In the deepest sense, it is my desire to offer—through the images—visual prayers for healing."