Joan Cassis, 43, photographer who combined film with paint

April 30, 1996|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Joan Cassis, a photographer whose coloring of black-and-white photographs gained her local and international notice, died Sunday of an aneurysm. She was 43 and lived in Hampden.

She took still photos -- usually portraits -- then with a brush and oil paints carefully colored the photos, creating a striking blend of photography and brush-stroke painting.

"Much of her work was very creative and imaginative," said Joseph Patterson, local artist who knew Ms. Cassis when both were students at the Maryland Institute, College of Art.

"With what she did, she could instantly make something very interesting out of something bland and uninteresting. She had a wonderful touch with her work."

Some of her photographs were exhibited at galleries in Athens, Greece, and in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, according to her sister, Cathryne Cassis of Emeryville, Calif.

Tom Baird, a photography professor at the Maryland Institute and one of Ms. Cassis' former instructors, remembered some photographs she had exhibited at the school. The unpainted pictures were taken at a Baltimore nursing home.

"It was a terrific series of photographs. It showed her sensitivity to the people she was photographing. She always showed respect and dignity to the people she worked with," Mr. Baird said.

Raised in Woodmoor, Ms. Cassis graduated from Woodlawn High School in 1970 and from the Maryland Institute in 1974.

She worked as a municipal government photographer after college before becoming a free-lance photographer. Since 1990, she had worked as a therapist at the Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital.

Cathryne Cassis said her sister enjoyed music and played the harpsichord and recorder. She was a member of several bluegrass and chamber music groups and played for many years in a bluegrass band with her father, George Cassis, who died in 1986.

A funeral will be held at 11: 30 a.m. tomorrow at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of The Annunciation, Maryland Avenue and Preston Street.

She also is survived by her mother, Vickie Cassis of Baltimore.

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