American, b. In the Early Seventies, San Francisco, CA
After spending an extended period of 1995 dedicated to making contact prints from his 2 1/4" X 2 1/4" and 4" X 5" negatives, Chiara decided too much information was lost in the darkroom enlargement process. Over the next 6 years Chiara developed his own equipment and processes to make 1st generation unique photographs (no film).

John Chiara developed a process that is part photography part sculpture and part event - an undertaking in apparatus and patience.He creates one-of-a-kind photographs in a variety of hand-built cameras, the largest of which is a 50” x 80” field camera transported by the artist on a flatbed trailer. Once a location is selected, he situates and then physically enters the camera, maneuvering in near total darkness positive color photographic paper on the camera’s back wall. Throughout the exposure, his instinctual control limits the light entering the lens, using his hands to burn and dodge the image. These large-scale photographs are developed by hand in a spinning drum process that agitates the chemistry over the photographic paper that lines the interior of the drum – a process that often leaves behind traces on the resulting image.

Chiara’s photographs are strongly perceptual, eliciting a visceral response, yet are rendered in soft hues that exude a strong sense of the viscosity of material and the ephemerality of presence.

John Chiara received his B.F.A. in Photography from the University of Utah in 1995, and his M.F.A. in Photography from the California College of the Arts in 2004. Chiara was an Artist in Residence at Crown Point Press, San Francisco (2006), Gallery Four, Baltimore (2010) and the Marin Headlands Center for the Arts (2010). In 2011 Chiara’s Bridge Project was commissioned by the Pilara Foundation in San Francisco and was included in the Pier 24 Photography group exhibition, HERE. In 2012 Chiara was one of 13 international artists’ whose work was included in the exhibition Crown Point Press at Fifty at the de Young, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. He also curated the duel-exhibition In Conversation - June Schwarcz and John Chiara, at the Richmond Art Center. The Pilara Foundation again commissioned Chiara in 2013, for the group exhibition A Sense of Place at Pier 24 Photography. Concurrently, Chiara’s work is included in TWISTED SISTERS: Reimaging Urban Portraiture, Museum Bärengasse, Zuric, Switzerland and Staking Claim: A California Invitational, a triennial exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Photographic Art.


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