About: Maria L. Gilbert

I’m a time-traveling 18th-century French countess who knows a thing or two about mummies and can make pigs fly. As senior writer/editor in the Collection Information & Access Department at the J. Paul Getty Museum, I oversee content development for the interpretive media we create for the galleries, online, and mobile devices.

Posts by Maria L.

Posted in Art, Getty Center

Art Takes a Rest as Getty Center Closes for Carmageddon II

Raymond de Magnoncourt / Chasseriau

The Getty Center will not be open for gentleman or lady callers this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, September 29 and 30. Our social calendar is affected by the demolition of the Mulholland Drive Bridge, which requires the 405 freeway to… More»

Tagged Leave a comment
Posted in Behind the Scenes, Getty Research Institute, J. Paul Getty Museum

Ask Us! International Ask-a-Curator Day is Wednesday, September 19

Gravestone with a Woman and Her Attendant / Greek

Update—Questions and answers here! We’re excited to join hundreds of art, history, and science museums internationally to participate in Ask-a-Curator Day, an online Q&A in which our friendly art experts—curators and conservators at the Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute—will… More»

Tagged , , , 10 Responses
Posted in Art, J. Paul Getty Museum

The Devil Is in the Details: New Collection Page Zoom

Demon depictions

We recently began to add high-resolution images of objects from the collection on our website, enabling you to zoom in and observe tiny details (look for the zoom button on object pages). We started with over 1,700 antiquities, manuscripts, drawings,… More»

Tagged , Leave a comment
Posted in Behind the Scenes, Conservation, J. Paul Getty Museum, Sculpture and Decorative Arts

All Shook Up! Protecting Art in an Earthquake

The Agrigento Youth
The Statue of a Kouros (The Agrigento Youth) on loan from the Museo Archeologico Regionale in Agrigento installed in the Getty Villa, October 2010.

When you look at sculpture in the Getty Museum’s galleries, you wouldn’t guess that some of the pedestals are somewhat unusual. Under their polished veneer, they’re engineered to protect art from the movements caused by earthquakes. Many museums in California… More»

Tagged , , , 2 Responses
Posted in Art, Behind the Scenes, J. Paul Getty Museum, Paintings

Connect with Art Using Google Goggles and Our New Mobile Collection Pages!

Video crew relaxing after the shoot

What is that painting? Wonder no longer. By taking a photo with the Google Goggles™ app for your smartphone, you can now instantly identify any painting in our collection, plus access related information and audio. Awesome, right? We created a… More»

Tagged , , , 6 Responses
  • Facebook

  • Twitter

  • Tumblr

    • photo from Tumblr

      A Chat with Photographer Tomoko Sawada

      A conversation about Japanese matchmaking traditions, self-portraiture, clothes, and identity.

      When did you start photographing yourself?
      I began making self-portraits when I was 19. It was an assignment for a photography class. I can’t even explain in Japanese why I liked them so much. It was instinctual. It’s as if I knew that this was going to be my style, that this is what I wanted to do. And I’m still doing it because I love the self-portrait, but I don’t know why. 

      What themes are you exploring in your work?
      I’m interested in the relationship between inside and outside. If you wear a sexy dress or if you wear kids clothes or casual clothes, people treat you differently. Even though you are you no matter what you wear. It’s that relationship that makes me think. 

      My new work is from when I was living in New York. When I was in New York, people didn’t think I was Japanese. Sometimes they thought I was Korean or Chines or Mongolian. Even Singaporean. It was funny, when I would go to the Japanese market, they would speak to me in English. When I went to the Korean market, they would speak to me in English again. I don’t seem to look Japanese outside of Japan. I was surprised because I think I look totally Japanese. It’s funny that people’s points of view are totally different.

      Could you talk a little about OMIAI, the series that represents a traditional Japanese matchmaking technique.
      OMIAI is a tradition that is somehow still working today. Usually, there is a matchmaker and photographs are exchanged before meeting. If both sides are interested, they can meet for lunch or dinner accompanied by their parents and steps for marriage proceed from there. In the old days, some people chose their marriage partner just through photographs, without even meeting each other. 

      When OMIAI was exhibited in Japan I saw people making various comments in from of the work. People would say things like, “she looks like a good cook; surely she would prepare delicious meals every day,” or “ this girl could be a perfect bride for my son,” or “I can tell she would not be a good housewife,” or “she’s such a graceful girl; she must be the daughter of a decent family.” Comments like that. 

      What was the process of making that work?
      I gained 10 pounds before I started taking the pictures, and in six months I lost forty pounds, because I wanted to look different in each photo. I wanted to change the way my legs looked. 

      Every weekend I went to the hair salon and put on a kimono. Then I went to the photo studio on the street in Japan. I would take a picture and then change my clothes to western dress. Then I would go to the studio again the next weekend. 

      Did you tell the photographer how you wanted it done?
      I told him I was an artist and wanted to make photographs with him. I told him to think that each weekend new girls would show up to make the OMIAI. I didn’t want him to think of me as the same girl who came every weekend. He understood the concept. 

      We had fun. While he was taking pictures, his wife would tell me how to lose weight. She gave me many tips.


      Tomoko Sawada’s work is on view at the Getty until February 21, 2016 in “The Younger Generation: Contemporary Japanese Photography”

      02/11/16

  • Flickr