Palm Springs Art Museum announces a new exhibition that celebrates an unconventional innovator in photography whose work was only recently discovered after being stashed away for decades. The exhibition Kali, Artographer, 1932-2019 opens on November 19, 2023 and will run until April 24, 2024.

The story behind Kali is as interesting as her work. In 1962, Long Island housewife Joan Archibald upended her life by fleeing to the warm and creative climes of Southern California where she reinvented herself as a photographer and took the name “Kali” after a Hindu goddess. Kali soon moved to Palm Springs and spent the following decades experimenting with photography—while becoming increasingly withdrawn and eccentric. It was only after her death in 2019 when a trove of images were discovered by her daughter Susan that Kali became recognized as a significant innovator in alternative photography.

Kali developed approaches that used the classic tools of analog photography, but she manipulated her images in strikingly original ways suggestive of the psychedelic aesthetics of the time. Shooting on black-and-white film, she placed the prints in her swimming pool, physically agitating them as she applied dyes, paints, spray developer, and even organic material. After achieving the final mix of colors and textures, she left the prints to dry in the sun—creating truly one-of-a-kind images.

“Kali’s work embodies a unique style that somehow combines Southern California optimism with a dark intensity that’s very powerful,” says Adam Lerner, JoAnn McGrath Executive Director/CEO of Palm Springs Art Museum. “We’re thrilled to present Kali’s work since so much of it was made here in Palm Springs and I believe will be particularly meaningful to our community.”

The works on view in this exhibition, including prints and Polaroids, display Kali’s fascination with self-portraiture as well as her use of friends and family as models. Later images reveal her almost obsessive interest in UFOs and the paranormal.

This exhibition, previously titled LA Woman: Kali, Artographer, was organized by the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH.

The exhibition was curated by Nannette Maciejeunes and Len Prince. Museum Tour Management by the Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA. Sponsorship support provided by Carol Adney.

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