Norma I. Quintana is a photographer and educator born in Cleveland, Ohio. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from John Carroll University and Master of Social Sciences from Case Western University in Ohio. Quintana moved to the Bay Area in the 1980s. and worked in human resources in Silicon Valley. She began her career as a fine art photographer in 1999 and studied with pioneer photographers: Mary Ellen Mark, Graciela Iturbide and Shelby Lee Adams. She works in the tradition of social documentary. Her portrait series include Forget Me Not and Circus: A Traveling Life, which have been exhibited nationally. Her book a Circus, A Traveling Life was published as a monograph by Damiani Editore and distributed by Distributed Art Publishers
Quintana has lectured nationally at Stanford, UCLA, American University, Penn State and internationally in Madrid, Spain. Her photographic series Forage From Fire, evolved after losing her home and studio during the devastating Atlas Peak Fire in Northern California in October 2017 and will be featured in a solo exhibition at San Francisco Camerawork in October 2018. Additionally, she is in a selected exhibition at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art.
Norma I. Quintana’s first art book represents a decade-long collaboration with the families of circus artists and performers of an American, traveling one-ring circus. In rich detail, she has captured candid moments behind the curtain as these performers proudly perfect their craft. Designed by Yolanda Cuomo of New York and published by Damiani Editore of Italy, Circus: A Traveling Life features a hundred full-page, luminous black and white portraits, reproduced in duotones by master printer, Robert Hennessey. Also featured is an introduction by Mona Simpson and a personal essay from the photographer on her experience with the circus.
The Forage From Fire series includes images of objects rescued from the home and studio of photographer Norma I. Quintana. On October 8, 2017, the Atlas Peak Fire roared through their neighborhood, burning their home to the ground. Days after the smoke cleared, Quintana’s documentarian instincts kicked in and she started making work with remnants she salvaged from the ashes.
“I have an innate and unquenchable desire to collect things. Not because I want to posses them, but because I want to celebrate the wonderment of them. It’s not the owning, it’s the knowing, that motivates me."
Framed by the black plastic gloves issued for fire clean-up, the sequence of images include jewelry, camera bodies, Christmas ornaments, pendants, doll parts, kitchen tools and picture frames. More than documenting a loss, her new project provided inspiration to others recovering from trauma and put life into perspective.
An exhibition of this series will be held October 4 - 20, 2018 at San Francisco Camerawork.