About Deborah Bergman
Seven years ago, Deborah came home to the States after having lived for four years on the island of Ibiza, working on a complex and beautiful project with many others.
It took a lot of focus and it was never finished. Although much progress was made.
In the solitude of all of that, it was in many ways the silent--the stars, the ocean, and the people who worked for her doing the simple and the important--who became her allies and companions.
And sometimes, if she had time, she would take photographs, to remember things.
Back in Portland, Oregon, it still nagged at her that she hadn't taken the time to photograph the tiny yellow flowers that stubbornly dotted that island's fields all winter long.
Because even when the fog began to fall at dusk so thickly and with such a subtle global chill it felt like you could trace your name in it with nothing but the heat of your thoughts, and even when the world was so deserted that it seemed no one else inhabited it but the unseen drivers of three very old, beat up sedans rolling slowly down a distant and ancient highway, those little yellow flowers continued to sway brightly and almost eternally in the fields, oblivious to time, longing, and the enormous surprises inevitably being wrought by the subtle and exacting art of winter.
Back home in the States, she realized her little camera was about four years old anyway. So she picked up a little something a little higher octane, and began to image.
People tend to forget that Portland Oregon lies above the 45th parallel. This is important. The light is different above the 45th parallel. It follows that so is everything else.
So here were also little yellow flowers, but these were very different, more like small lights agreeing with many larger ones like so many verbs taking their usual places in that long brilliant ode named summer.
Here she used her camera to keep a pair of Turkeman headdress-crowns as they sat together on a refectory table under slanted morning light. The inner curves of old crystal chandeliers. Panicles of hydrangea capitulating in arcs beneath their exigencies of their own weight. The leading edge of sunrise.
Before she knew it, she was out in the Columbia River Gorge photographing great waterfalls and enormous turbines.
You can find the next chapters of that story all throughout this web offering.
And that more or less takes us up to the present.
Deborah was raised in Princeton, N.J. and lived for many years in Manhattan (plus a few working in Barcelona from the ages of 19-21) before moving to Portland in the mid-1990s. Of course, that was back when slow was still an adjective most commonly used to describe the pace of traffic and business, not a thing. But her general reasons for coming to Portland were the same as the ones people have today.
She comes by both photography and the fashion accessories business naturally. There are three generations of professional photographers on one side of the family. And there are three generations of small fashion and accessory entrepreneurs on the other, including her great-grandparents' who hand-made and hand-beaded formal gowns and wedding dresses in the early decades of the last century, and the family's leather goods and accessories businesses Prospect Leather Goods and Mighty Midget, which manufactured leather accessories uninterrupted from the 1920's to the 1970's on 7th Avenue for women, the war effort, children, and more. The patriarch of that family, her great grandfather Sam, also helped found the International Leather Workers' Union.
Deborah modeling her grandfather's company's little white pocketbook (which is what they usually called them back in the day), at the age of about two and a half or three. Grandpa Bill took the Polaroid in his own living room. Deborah's mother recalls that he took lots of Polaroids but had little to no patience in general, so he would usually just point and shoot while moving the camera around. Therefore, most of his photos came out blurry. However, this one turned out pretty well. The white stole, little headpiece, and beads were purchased to complete the outfit. The strange thing is, Deborah owns a pair of chairs almost identical to the one in the background (although otherwise upholstered) today.
These days, like so many others, Deborah is creative frenemies with the digital age. The digital age has given her great freedom while also challenging her to stretch out of the deep comfort zone of the purely literary where she started her professional life at the age of 17, and in which she herself began to publish eight years later as a literary translator, for a few years as a high-level book doctor and ghost, and also as a novelist and author of non-fiction.
In this, her own creative story kind of reads like a history of the digital age itself, starting with written words, and adding a new or recovered medium at the rate of about one per decade: spoken word, fiber arts, and digital photography.
A common thread has been the impulse to fuse the ancient and the cutting edge. It culminates in the simple, versatile, precious objects of DBDesigns--a digital photograph printed on silk and painstakingly hand-hemmed, offered in limited editions that refine and microcycle, and which you can wear anywhere, all year long, and in a variety of ways.
Of course, even if abstract, her pieces are informed by her own travels and fueled by her experience.
Ultimately they are also a reminder that we are not here to do one thing only...even when we stand still, we keep moving and time keeps moving. We are here to keep moving, and the trajectory and contour of our journey is as unique as our face.
Travel well and deeply through your own.
Steam, Water, and Ice: a selection of Deborah's work from this century and the last. ;) On top of the books, a color test of Capella in Indigo Monochrome and on silk georgette. Below, Spica in Indigo Monochrome in crêpe de chine. Rear, the matted fine arts print version of Cosmology, in regular old monochrome. Color on your monitor may vary slightly.