Photograph by  Johanna Foster , 2014

Photograph by Johanna Foster, 2014

I make video and audio documentaries and visual art informed by over two decades of experience as a sociologist and teacher.  I love asking questions and listening to people's stories.  I see documentary work as an act of bearing witness with compassion.  It is a gift when people open their lives to me.  My documentaries highlight people's creativity and will to thrive.    As a visual artist I am motivated as much by the shape of things as their social meaning but increasingly I find sociology creeping into my art and film in ways that are highly satisfying to me.  I am currently the director of 1500 Stories, a large scale cooperative art and digital storytelling project about economic inequality in the U.S.

I have a Ph.D. in sociology from UC Davis with an emphasis on social movements and inequalities and a graduate certificate in documentary filmmaking from George Washington University.  I love teaching and working at a California community college, a public institution that embodies the radical notion that everyone has a right to a higher education.  I received the Distinguished Educator Award at De Anza College in 2007.  I also have been studying film and photography for the last six years.  In 2014, one of my photographs was chosen for the juried exhibit, Altered Views, at the Lightbox Gallery in Astoria, OR.  In 2017, a collaborative piece I made with my students entitled Who(se) Shares? exhibited at the Euphrat Museum of Art in the curated Justice for All? show.  After a series of artist profile shorts, I completed my first feature length documentary, Homie UP: Stories of Love and Redemption, which won a Silver in the Spotlight Documentary Film Awards in 2015.  The latest film I collaborated on, Berning Love, was an official selection in 2017 at the Berlin Independent Film Festival, Green Mountain Film Festival, Rincon Film Festival and the Bay Area Women in Film and Media International Shorts Showcase and won Overall Best Documentary Short at Rincon. It aired on PBS in Vermont in December 2017.  For this film, I worked as associate producer, co-editor, second camera and director of research. I am currently in post-production on my first historical documentary, entitled The Spider Web, about the U.S. War Department’s surveillance and propaganda campaign against feminist pacifists in the wake of the First Red Scare. I was a 2018 Belle Foundation for Cultural Development grantee and am a 2019 Mellon Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies Community College Faculty Fellow.  For an abbreviated CV/resume, click here.

I was born in Tucson, AZ and though from 3 months old through 12 years I grew up on rural Long Island NY, I imprinted on the muted palette and rugged beauty of the Sonoran desert landscape.  Trees are overrated.  I still need to see the horizon.  California gives me just enough big sky to satisfy that urge.  I love climbing big hills, both literal and figurative.  And I could not survive without my sense of humor. Finally, when I’m not teaching or making films or making art or working on 1500 Stories, I organize with Showing Up for Racial Justice.

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