(Palo Alto, California, 1953 - )
Lives Sante Fe, New Mexico
Robert Stivers’s first experience in photography was during a 1973 summer vacation at the family cabin at Lake Arrowhead, California, where he set up his own darkroom and photographed water skiers. He remained an amateur photographer for several years as he pursued a career in dance, which he studied at the University of California, Irvine. After he was awarded a bachelor’s degree in 1976, Stivers went on to earn his master’s degree from New York University in 1980. He danced professionally with the Joffrey Ballet in New York City until a spinal injury in the early 1980s prematurely ended his career. Stivers began making short films and photographs using himself and his friends as subjects as a way of continuing his interest in the human form. After a short period as a stockbroker and insurance agent, Stivers was able to devote his full attention to photography in 1988.
The majority of Stivers’s creative vision happens in the traditional analogue darkroom with no digital assistance. Self-taught in the art of photography, Stivers takes great pride in his printing skills. Negatives are enlarged and blurred and often heavily toned to become one-of-a kind prints. Figures are sometimes abstracted to such a degree that they cannot be confidently described as human, while inanimate objects can loom with eerie intensity. The resulting impression on the viewer is of a shadowy dream world, half-remembered or imagined. Stivers’s photographs have been exhibited widely and can be found in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in California, the Metropolitan Museum in New York City and The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, among many others.