About Emily Wick

I am a writer, photographer, painter and filmmaker based in Oakland, California.

I was born and raised on the East Coast and have spent my adult life in California. I work as an archaeologist and put my creative efforts into uncovering the world all around us.

Writing & Photography 

I started Learning How To See in 2016 a blog containing photo essay-style posts, chronicling my quest to literally see the world differently, exploring facets of everyday life that are hidden in plain sight.

Examples of projects undertaken for this blog include photography with unusual sensors (e.g., thermal) as well as playing with time, by slowly sanding through a geode as well as many attempts to understand color, light, and illusions (e.g., colorblindness, inverted colors.

This project sprang from my experiments in perception described in my 2016 Medium essay The Magic Hour.


Square of Astroturf in the Sun, 2014, oil on wood, 2.5 x 4 inches

I trained in realistic oil painting for four years (2006-9) at the Atelier School of Classical Realism with master painter David Hardy, and focused on capturing texture and light in still life with subjects like glitter, flashlight beams, and sunlight. I have shown my work in Oakland and San Francisco and have completed painting residencies at Beechwood Arts in Westport, CT and the Morris Graves Foundation in Humboldt County, CA.


I first discovered linocut carving at Laney College during Printmaking classes at Laney College. I carved  The Fifty United States and their Mottos created in 2008, and began offering the motto map as a large print.

The map, which I assembled from fifty individual linocuts, has appeared in the Guardian, published in the coffee table book Mapping America, and was featured on National Geographic Traveler. It also appeared prominently in a music video produced for PBS.

In 2017, I licensed the motto maps with iCanvas.com. The U.S. motto map, as well as the individual states and the District of Columbia, are now available ready to hang in a wide range of sizes.


To date I have made two documentary films. Both were screened nationally on the festival circuit, and both are currently in distribution. I directed, filmed, and edited the nonfiction film Life With Alex (55 minutes, 2012, Produced by Arlene Levin).

The film that gives a behind-the-scenes look at the incredible story of famed scientist Dr. Irene Pepperberg and her African Grey parrot Alex. The film won Best Documentary at the New Jersey Film Festival and is currently in distribution with Canamedia. Official Life With Alex film website.

I met Dr. Pepperberg through my mentor Judy Irving (Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill), whom I was introduced to through my friend, the late John B. Sullivan, a retired fireman, who was a classmate at the Atelier School of Classical Realism.

BS_coverThrough my work in archaeology, I met and the Native American Indian elder Ella Rodriguez. The story of being taken from her home into a biographical film,Buried Stories (2008) 34-minutes (co-directed with Julie Kirkenslager; Executive Producer Allen G. Pastron). It is distributed on the higher education market by Filmakers Library.

I have served as a judge for the Animal Film Festival in Grass Valley, California since 2015.


Smokey’s Tangle

4709 Telegraph Avenue

Oakland, California Map

Open by appointment. Message for appt


Contact: emily@smokeystangle.com:

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