Photography Brown Bag Talk: Angel O’Brien

September 18, 2019 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Angel O’Brien will be talking about her recent work from Prague, Budapest, San Francisco and Portland, as well as the liberation of finally finding her voice 24 years after picking up her first camera.

About Angel O’Brien
Local photographer Angel O’Brien works with experimental and alternative processes to create the often surreal and layered self-portrait montages for which she is well known. Her love of photography began in 1994 when she was in high school: She spent many a day wandering Portland with her Cambo 5×7, shooting this city’s architecture, spending even more evenings in her bathroom-turned-darkroom making black-and-white contact prints. Angel’s hands haven’t been far from a camera since, and she currently works with 35mm, twin lens, pinhole, and large format cameras. Although she mainly kept to monochrome processes in the past, she experimented with cross-processing slide film and fell in love with the off kilter colors she saw in her photographs. She continues with this method today.

A few years ago, out of frustration with not being able to make the photographs that she had in her head, Angel began to experiment with photo transfers, creating a lot of crazy (and mostly bad) work.  She then learned platinum-palladium printing from Ray Bidegain and gum bichromate printing from Christina Z. Anderson. She finally had the tools she needed to be able to manifest the photography that she’d always been trying to make. A solo trip to Prague and Budapest provided the time and mental space to discover how to turn her crazy life into the handmade platinum/gum (self) portraits that she is recognized for today.

Angel’s work has been exhibited on both coasts and in Europe, and is either currently or soon-to-be exhibited at the Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, the Lightbox Photographic Gallery in Astoria, and the Albatross Gallery in Gold Hill, Oregon. She’s recently been selected for the Critical Mass Top 200 for work from her series The Distance of Forgetting.

When she isn’t making photography or writing poetry, she is often making other kinds of art with her eight-year-old, Gwendolyn, or eating too many chocolate ice cream cones, pondering the chaos of her universe.

Every third Wednesday of the month at noon, photography enthusiasts gather at the Museum to hear talks by regional photographers, gallerists, historians, curators, and collectors.

Free to the public.

Sponsored by the Museum’s Photography Council. Major support provided by Pro Photo Supply.


The Portland Art Museum is pleased to offer accommodations to ensure that our programs are accessible and inclusive. All spaces for this program are accessible by wheelchair. Assistive listening devices are also available for lectures. All restrooms have accessible stalls but no power doors. There are single-stall all-gender bathrooms available. Please ask staff for directions.

We will do our best to accommodate your needs when you arrive, however, we need 2-3 weeks advance notice for some specific requests. Please email requests to, or call 503-226-2811.

Photograph by Angel O'Brien