Beatrice Thornton

Beatrice is an Oakland-based archivist, design historian, and environmental land artist whose primary medium is black and white film photography. She grew up in Mill Valley, CA and spent thirteen years in New York after initially moving there to attend New York University. Since returning to the Bay Area in 2018, she has begun building an art practice centered around analog photography. She develops film and prints in her home darkroom, most recently mixing developers using more sustainable ingredients that include foraged plants rather than traditional darkroom chemicals. She regularly visits her mother in Carmel Valley, and as a result Carmel and Big Sur make frequent appearances in her work.

Artist’s Statement

Beatrice began making homemade developers in 2021 with Caffenol-C recipes and in early 2022 started replacing the coffee ingredient with plants. She is part of a larger movement of film photographers following similar sustainable darkroom practices. Beatrice’s evolving photographic style mainly depicts her local landscape, oftentimes through in-camera double exposures, including in her images the very plants used as developers. 

Her recent work incorporates developers from both native and invasive plants. She photographs while hiking the trails near her home in Oakland and other locations in Northern California. She is currently working on several projects, including an herbarium of invasive plants from her local watershed. Beatrice sees developing with plants as a circular process where the art she produces is as much about the final object as it is about process and materials. Her work is likewise a continual process of learning about photography and plants—their uses, properties, and histories—all of which re-connects Beatrice to the land she grew up on.