John Barna (1944-2022) received both his BFA and MFA in photography from San Francisco State University. He taught photography in Portland for over 35 years at Mt. Hood Community College, Portland Community College (Rock Creek), Clarke College and Portland State University, where for 20 years he wrote and oversaw the entire photography curriculum of over 50 courses and where he was director of the Silver Gallery. Trained in Chemistry and Physics, Barna invented photographic processes, such as the gum/oil photographic process, an alternative to the more complicated gum-bichromate process.
“In the fourth grade I brought a tiny set of chemicals and 25 sheets of 2×3″ photo paper,” writes Barna. ” I took these to my grandfather’s house where I witnessed my first miracle: the appearance of one of my photographs in the developer’s tray. My life revolved around photography from that point on.”
Barna’s work evokes a lost or ruined world, from his surrealist still-life tableaux to the abandoned towns of eastern Oregon to rusted tools and well-used toys. Throughout all this work, including his sensitive portraits of children, runs a delight and fascination with the world of visual wonders.