Margaretta K. Mitchell is a well-established photographer, artist, writer and educator. Besides photographic commissions and portraiture, she exhibits her fine art photography nationally. She is the author of five books, including: Gift of Place (Scrimshaw Press 1969); To a Cabin (Viking Press, 1973); Recollections: Ten Women of Photography (Viking Press,1979), for which she also created an International Center of Photography traveling show which was exhibited at seventeen American museums; and Ruth Bernhard: Between Art and Life (Chronicle Books, 2000). Her book, The Face of Poetry (University of California Press, 2005) features her black and white portraits of a significant selection of remarkable American poets set in conversations with their poems (co-author: poet Zack Rogow). Iconographies and Island Dreams are the first two in a series of books which focus on bodies of her work in photography, published under her Elysian Editions imprint.
She is a contributor of both text and images to many more books and publications, such as The Eternal Body by Ruth Bernhard (1986), Under One Sky by Margo Davis (2004), Searching for True North by Geir Jordahl (2007), and The Vibrant Landscape by Gary Levinson (2019).
Margaretta has also produced artist books and portfolios in small editions. Dance for Life: The California Legacy of Isadora Duncan was published by Elysian Editions in 1985 (Edition of 50 boxes and 8 Publishers’ proofs of each of the ten Photogravures) after the photographs were exhibited at the Oakland Museum of California that year. Elysian Editions also published her artist’s book, On the Avenue, 2017 (Edition of 10) which is a remarkable object: a tiny photography book designed into a fancy purse binding. A paperbound version of the book was published in 2018 (Edition of 40). Her body of work also includes the books she produces for private clients.
Mitchell’s photography was included in the book and traveling exhibition, A History of Women Photographers (1994). On January 31, 2000 Berkeley Symphony performed the world premiere of a symphony, commissioned by Kent Nagano, entitled “Berkeley Images,” which was inspired by Margaretta’s photogravure portfolio, Dance for Life: The California Dance Legacy of Isadora Duncan.
Her work has been exhibited in Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., Santa Fe, Nashville, Tennessee, and in California at the Oakland Museum, the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House Gallery, PhotoCentral, Robert Tate Gallery (SF), the Scott Nichols Gallery (SF), and Gumps Gallery. She is currently represented by Scott Nichols in Sonoma, California. Prints and/or portfolios are in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The International Center of Photography, Stanford University Museum, The Oakland Museum of California, The New York Public Library, Princeton University, UCLA, The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University Museum, Smith College Museum and the Royal Print Collection, Windsor, England, among others, in addition to many private collections.
Her work in film includes a 16-minute piece for the exhibit, Dance for Life at the Oakland Museum of California (1985): Co-producer and Photographer for the film, Movement from the Soul: the Dance Innovations of Isadora Duncan (1988). Mitchell also wrote and produced Fire, Ruin, Renewal, a 23-minute documentary film on the firestorm of 1991, shown in the Oakland Film Festival (2012) and the Berkeley Film Festival (2013).
Margaretta has taught at UC Berkeley and UCB and UCSC Extension. She is a graduate, magna cum laude, from Smith College, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and received her MA in Visual Studies from the University of California, Berkeley where she has served on the Alumni Board of the College of Environmental Design. She has been the recipient of awards and grants from Polaroid Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, California Council for the Humanities, and others.