Biosphere 2 Artist-In-Residence

Kathleen Velo

Kathleen Velo was born in Chicago and lives in Tucson, Arizona. She earned her BFA from the University of Wisconsin, an MA from the University of Arizona, and her MFA from Vermont College. Growing up in the Midwest where water was plentiful, she moved to the desert southwest in 1980 where she gained a new respect for the transcendent qualities of this life force. Kathleen’s current projects examine the use and misuse of water in a desert environment. As a process driven photographic artist she has created simplified techniques to maximize her interaction with the natural alchemy of light, chemistry and space, using camera-less, pinhole and plastic camera techniques to capture her imagery. Kathleen exhibits her work nationally and internationally, and her work is in public and private collections, including the Palace of the Governors Museum in Santa Fe, Tucson Museum of Art, and the Southeastern Museum of Photography. She has received numerous grants for her work including artist project grants from the Fulbright Commission, the United States State Department in London, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and others. She is a Fulbright alumna and teaches traditional and digital photography in Arizona.

To see more of Kathleen's work, please visit:

Project Statement

The camera-less photographic images that I create in various water sources, capture the essence of water from below the surface: The concept of water as it interacts with the immediate environment, and the inherent alchemy that occurs as a result of this interaction, are the foundation of my current work. The underwater photograms are created in the dark of night: To make the images I go into the water, long after dark, and submerge color photographic paper. At the right moment, the paper is briefly exposed to a light source while underwater, to create a photogram of the water contents and movement. The alchemy of photographic emulsion combined with the minerals, salts, pollutants, and other elements in the water create a unique documentation of water contents. This rare perspective of under the surface of water creates beautiful and poetic meditations on water, as a constantly changing environmental experience and as a force of life.