Sally Pettibon earned her B.F.A. in Photography from the California College of the Arts and her M.F.A. in Photography from the University of South Florida.

Ms. Pettibon is an internationally exhibited photographic artist with numerous exhibitions and awards including Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, CIAC Gallery in Brittany France, Two Columns Gallery Sarasota, Florida. Florida Center for Contemporary Art in Tampa, FL. Contemporary Art Museum at the University of South Florida, Ringling Museum of Art and the Appelton Museum of Art. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Ringling Museum of Art , Center for Fine Art Photography, the Pont Aven School of Contemporary Art and various private collections.

Ms. Pettibon was a full time Professor at the RIngling College of Art and Design from 1992-2020. She has taught at the Pont Aven School of Contemporary Art in France and is a former staff photographer for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and freelance editorial photographer in New York and Florida.

Professor Emeritus Ringling College of Art and Design 2020



Personal Geography

Personal Geography represents the connection I feel for my hometown of What Cheer, Iowa. This small town with its boarded up buildings and a melancholy that permeates the streets holds so many memories of my early life. 

Although I lived there for only five years, it has a hold on me that’s difficult to explain. Perhaps it’s my inherent need to belong somewhere, perhaps it’s the memories of my family who are no longer alive, or maybe it’s the place itself with its rolling hills, verdant cornfields and own distinct quality of light.

More likely it’s my memories of a place where both my father and I were born, where my Grandparents and Great Grandparents lived nearby. The map of my life extends quite far, I lived in four different states by the time I was 16. But it’s this tiny forgotten town that has a hold on me both temporal and spiritual that I don’t fully understand.

Combining family snapshots with photographs I have taken in What Cheer since the 1970’s Personal Geography explores the impermanence of history and memory and the permanence of place.

Flying A Sign

From 2011-2014 I collected and documented signs people use to solicit money. The interest in this project started when I saw a man holding a sign made in a unique style. At that point I began to take notice of these signs and view them as a form of vernacular art, handmade objects with a message, the words, the calligraphy, even the shape of the cardboard are calculated to get the viewer to respond.

Each sign is a plea for help with a short personal narrative describing the holder's situation. The signs employ the same marketing strategies other areas of our economy use to succeed yet each sign is unique and tells something about the individual who wrote it.

My method was to approach the person and tell them about my project, ask if they would want to contribute their sign and then offer materials to make a new one. Sometimes a few dollars would be exchanged but not everyone wanted money. Most everyone I asked was interested and willing to participate.

Over the course of the three years I talked with men and women of varying ages and I collected over 50 signs some of which are represented on this website. My objective with the project was to present the signs in a new context, not to judge the people holding the signs but to examine their messages and methods.

True Story

Selected Exhibitions

The Language of Ephemera, Spaaces Gallery, Sarasota, Florida 2022

Personal Geography Solo Exhibition, Richard and Barbara Basch Gallery Ringling College of Art + Design, Sarasota, Florida 2020

Legacy Artists, Art Ovation, Sarasota, Florida 2018

Flying a Sign Solo Exhibition, Two Columns Gallery, Sarasota , Florida 2014

The Inspiring Image, Longboat Key Art Center, 2014

Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, Electron Salon Exhibition, 2013

Artist’s Wanted, On-Line Collaborative Project, 2011

CCA Web Gallery, Alumni Exhibition, 2010

CIAC Gallery, Finis Terre: End of the Earth Mail Art Project Pont-Aven, France 2010

Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia, Crossroads Exhibition Atlanta, Georgia 2009

Manatee Community College Fine Art Gallery, Society of Artists Exhibition, Bradenton, Florida 2009

Florida Southeast Museum/Bishop Planetarium, Cosmix a Multi-Directional Synthesis of Art and Technology Bradenton, Florida, 2008

Ovo Gallery, Pure/Impure, Sarasota, Florida 2005

Embracing Our Differences, Traveling exhibition and catalog sponsored by the Holocaust Center, 2005

Center for Contemporary Photography, Fine Art Photography Exhibition, 2004 Fort Collins, Colorado

Center for Innovation and Collaboration, Revising the Pin-Up, 2004 Sarasota, Florida

Art League of Manatee, White Linen Exhibition, 2004

Art League of Manatee, New Eye Photography, 2003

Sarasota Visual Art Center, Artists Helping Artists, published catalog 1998, 2000

Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota Biennial, published catalog 2000

Ringling Museum of Art, Documentation/Manipulation: 20th Century Photographs, published catalog 1999

Appleton Museum of Art, Documentation/Manipulation: 20th Century Photographs 1999

Contemporary Art Museum University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida Faculty/Alumni Invitational 1999

Manatee Community College Fine Art Gallery Explosante Fixe   1999

Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida, Featuring Florida published catalog 1998

Arts on thePark, Lakeland, Florida, Printmaking and Photography Invitational, 1997

Fine Arts Center, Lubbock, Texas Celebration Invitational, 1997

Silvermine Guild Galleries, New Canaan, Connecticut, Spectra National Photography Biennial 97, 1997

Sarasota Visual Arts Center, Sarasota, Florida, NewOutlooks in Photography, 1997

Fine Arts Center, Lubbock, Texas, Illuminance, 1997

Selby Gallery, Sarasota, Florida Ringling College of Art and Design Faculty Exhibition, 1992-2015

Teaching Gallery, Tampa, Florida, University of South Florida, Based on a True Story, Thesis Exhibition, 1997

Center Gallery, Tampa, Florida, All Florida Show, 1997

Sarasota Visual Art Center Sarasota, Florida, Cyber Art Exhibition, 1996

Contemporary Art Museum, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, Fine Arts Student Exhibition, 1995-1997

Kanega Gallery Sarasota, Florida, Recent Photographs, 1996

Sarasota ArtsCouncil Sarasota, Florida, Works on Paper, 1996

Florida Centerfor Contemporary Art Tampa, Florida, Double Vision, 1995

Artist Presentations

10X10 Presentation of Flying a Sign Project Sarasota, Florida, 2015

Ringling Museumof Art, Artist’s Presentation:Coville Documentary Collection, 2013 

Ringling Museum of Art, Artist’s Presentation: Picturing Eden in conjunction with Picturing Eden Exhibition, 2009

Pont-Aven Schoolof Contemporary Art, Pont-Aven, France Artist’s Presentation, July 2008

Assisted leading group of students and alumni to Documenta 12 in Kassel Germany and the Biennale in Venice Italy June 2007

Ringling Museum of Art, Artist’s Presentation: The World as Seen by Magnum Photographers, 2007 Ringling Museum of Art,

Artist’s Presentation Women InPhotography, In conjunction with the Margaret Bourke-White exhibition, 2003

Selby Gallery, Where We Live Photography and Place panel discussion 2002

RCAD Lecture Hall, Cutting Edge panel discussion2002

Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota Biennial panel discussion 2000

Ringling Museum of Art, Featuring Florida presentation of work to RSAD            

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Sarasota Arts Council panel discussion and Artist’s Presentation 1998

Selected Bibliography

Sarasota Herald-Tribune,Personal Geography, 2020

Longboat Observer, Flying a Sign, 2013

Longboat Observer, Real Images and Imaginary Realities, March 2005

Porch Magazine, Pure/Impure, March 2005

Sarasota HeraldTribune, Diversity of Styles, September 2003

Arts andEntertainment, Sarasota Biennial September 2003

Sarasota Herald Tribune, Breaking Ground, September 2000

Arts Review, Featuring Florida, September 2000

St. Petersburg Times, Art with a Continental Eye, June 1998

Sarasota Herald Tribune, Featuring Florida, June 1998

Sarasota Herald Tribune, New Outlooks, August 1997

Lubbock Avalanche Journal 

Art Review, Hot Summer/Cool Art, August 1996

Sarasota Herald Tribune, Cool Art, Works on Paper August 1996 

Arts Review, Recent Photographs, August 1996


Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers 2005

Juror’s Award from Robert Sobieszek of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1997

Juror’s Award from Charles Stainbach of the International Center for Photography, 1997

Juror’s Award from Terence Pitts of the Center for Creative Photography

1997 Contemporary Art Museum Award Juror's award from Lorna Simpson

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