Views and Voices: Delphine Sims on James Oliver Mitchell’s Portrait of Diane di Prima

At a time of distance, our audio series Views and Voices: Personal Perspectives on the Collection is designed to bring you closer to the individual people behind BAMPFA and individual works from our art and film collections. We’ve invited staff and students with ties to BAMPFA to select a favorite piece and talk about what makes it compelling or important to them.

Delphine Sims, a PhD candidate in UC Berkeley’s Department of History of Art, reflects on local photographer James Oliver Mitchell’s multivalent portrait of Beat-era poet Diane di Prima. Sims describes how the need to love and protect Black life informed her daily encounters with a reproduction of this photograph.

Sims often works with BAMPFA, mostly recently as an Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Intern, during which time she worked on projects related to her expertise in the history of photography in the Americas. Her research focuses on the ways that race, gender, geography, and urbanity redefine landscape photography.

James Mitchell: Diane di Prima, 1968; gelatin silver print; 8 x 10 in.; BAMPFA, David Robinson Photography Fund purchase.