Kimberly Ovitz debuts photography exhibit ‘Mother’ at the Casterline|Goodman Gallery
Photographer Kimberly Ovitz is on a mission to reconnect people with nature and the environment through her work.
“I’ve always been a visual storyteller,” she said. “I want to use this medium to inspire and accelerate change, peace, and curiosity, so when people walk outside, they slow down a little and look at things a bit differently and be reminded of all the beauty that we are surrounded by.”
Ovitz, who has practiced photography since she was a child but only began pursuing it professionally after pivoting from a career in fashion, is showing her debut exhibition “Mother” at the Casterline|Goodman Gallery in Aspen through April 15.
“I have been fortunate enough to be able to go to Aspen for years growing up, and I just have a very special connection with it,” she said. “Whenever I’m there, I just reconnect back to this childlike awe. It’s always good memories, positive and beautiful thoughts. Any place that is so saturated with nature and beauty, the way that Aspen and Snowmass are, puts me in a state of being that is peaceful, which makes me show up as a better human in life, which I think is always the goal, right?”
Ovitz previously had a long and successful career in fashion. The Los Angeles native scored an internship at J. Crew at the age of 14, when she gained a love and appreciation of the sparse minimalism heralded by Emily Scott, J. Crew’s co-founder and former CEO.
She went on to internships at Harper’s Bazaar with photographer Herb Ritts; Chanel, working under Karl Lagerfeld; and at W magazine. She attended Parsons, The New School of Design, and earned her bachelor’s in art history and business from Brown University.
After working for labels Imitation of Christ, YaYa, and Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent, she launched her Kimberly Ovitz Collection in 2009, which was embraced by the fashion and entertainment industry with many young fashionistas wearing her designs on the red carpet. In 2013, she announced she would not produce a fall line.
In the years since, she has been involved in many fashion collaborations and initiatives but found herself moving more intentionally toward two passions she has held since childhood — animal welfare and photography.
“Photography is a medium I’ve always been drawn to since I was a kid,” she said. “I think that photography and film is transcendent. It transcends the boundaries of language. And animals are a huge passion and purpose of mine. I grew up knowing that my purpose in life was to help them.”
Like many, she suddenly found herself with a lot of time on her hands during the COVID-19 pandemic and decided to drive sections of the long California and Oregon coastline in an RV over the course of two years and photograph the natural world she encountered.
“I know it sounds cliche, but I read this book, ‘The Overstory,’ by Richard Powers, and after reading that book, I just couldn’t look at trees the same way as I used to,” she said. “I just feel like we take the gifts of nature for granted. And we’ve made such a mess out of nature, and by the way, animals, humans, the planet. That’s all nature to me.”
The results of that journey are what make up her exhibit “Mother.” The title is a nod to Mother Earth.
Ovitz grew up an avid equestrian, but her animal-rights work has shifted her relationship to horses. She said she doesn’t believe in riding them anymore.
“I really like to just spend time with them on the ground,” she said, “because I can connect with them more, and you know, horses are our mirrors, so they can feel our energy and give it back to us. That is a beautiful superpower that I think horses have and makes them magical to me.”
One of her favorite photos of the exhibit is “Chestnut Boys” and was captured because she mistakenly forgot her tripod while out trying to photograph horses at night.
“It is so hard to shoot horses at night because they’re not used to light or any sort of interference with their environment at night,” she said. “When I got there, I realized I forgot my tripod. I was just like kicking myself. Then I ended up just saying, ‘Do the best you can; you’re here.’ And when I got the picture back, it was the most beautiful mistake.”
Determined to get her work out there, she reached out to Robert Casterline and began the conversation about showing her photographs in his Aspen gallery. To her surprise, he loved what she was doing.
“My first show ever. Wow,” she said. “I’m incredibly grateful and excited to be a part of such an amazing gallery of elevated artists.”