"Paper Dolls: A Deck of Playing Cards" features a collection of over 50 portraits of people from the artist’s life. Read more below.
San Francisco photographer Nick Aitken (pictured above in self-portrait) premieres his newest project, an exhibit titled "Paper Dolls: A Deck of Playing Cards," at The Academy next Thursday. The event is free and open to the public, and features a collection of over 50 portraits of people from the artist’s life in over 25 years in San Francisco, including mayoral candidate Mark Leno and notable drag performers Peaches Christ, Suppository Spelling, and Grace Towers.
Inspired by memories of playing with paper dolls as a child, the collection merges past and present as well as masculinity and femininity, using costumes from the 17th to early 20th centuries, with ornamentation and multiple contrasting fabrics to create the feeling of an old portrait from the past injected with vivid color and new life.
“['Paper Dolls'] is about inspiration, the community I'm from in S.F.; it's about perseverance, about telling a story, about my life and experience, and leaving something behind. It’s sort of fantasy or dreamlike,” says Aitken. “It’s about taking someone from the present day, all the people who have influenced me in one way or another, and then marrying this idea that they had a past life and were confident to be who they were authentically at that time.”
Aitken did all of the photography, wardrobe, styling, and grooming, plus editing and postproduction.
For more information or to order a deck of cards go to NickAitken.net.
Art exhibition for "Paper Dolls" is September 28 from 7 to 10 p.m. at The Academy, 2166 Market St., San Francisco. See more in the video below.
Grace Towers is an activist, artist, dancer, and gender-fluid drag queen.
Peaches Christ is a filmmaker, public figure, and drag performer extraordinaire.
Treavor Michael is a jewelry designer and hippie.
Fred Rose is an actor, singer, and cellist. Nick met him when he was here in S.F. this year performing in Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Into the Woods.”
Andrew Wedge is a fashion designer and was the first portrait Nick shot for this series over three years ago.
Dino Rosso is a linguist, teacher, and sea captain.
Heather Annaliece Young is a stylist and an artist.
Michael Bulatao is a video editor at Google and an amazing actor and singer.
Nick Ice is a barber and an artist.
Kevin Bill is a project presentation designer.
Luciano Chessa is a composer and teaches at the American Conservatory of Music in San Francisco.