Currently Carey resides in Hartford, Connecticut, and teaches at the Hartford Art School. She holds a B.F.A. from the Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri, and an M.F.A. from State University of New York at Buffalo. Her photographs have been exhibited at numerous galleries and museums, including Photography Degree Zero, New Haven, Connecticut; Real Art Ways, Hartford, Connecticut; Paesaggio Gallery, West Hartford, Connecticut; Maresca Gallery, New York; Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art; The John Good Gallery, New York; the International Center for Photography, New York; University Art Museum of New Mexico, Albuquerque; the Concord Gallery, New York; and the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. She has received many grants from her home state of Connecticut as well as the Massachusetts Council of the Arts, New Works Grant, New York State Federation for Artists Grant; and a National Endowment for the Arts Award. Her photographs are in the permanent collections of The Art Institute of Chicago; the Baltimore Museum of Art; Brooklyn Museum of Arts; Chase Manhattan Bank; Coca Cola Corporation; Fogg Art Museum; George Eastman House; International Center for Photography; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others.
The title of my project, Photography Degree Zero, is a direct reference to Roland Barthes' book Writing Degree Zero, published in French in 1953 and in English in 1968, with an introduction by Susan Sontag. Barthes offers theoretical meditations on writing, focusing particularly on the dispassionate tone and minimalist style of the French new novel. In related fashion, my work is meant to represent a departure from the picture sign idea of the photograph, as well as from the historical and cultural expectations surrounding the idea that a photograph will describe, document, and narrate (as in the snapshot, landscape photography, portraiture, and photojournalism).
I approach photography as picture making rather than picture taking. I am interested, both visually and conceptually, in chaos theory, fractal geometry, and symmetry and asymmetry as found not only in art, but nature, science, architecture and mathematics (the golden mean, the logarithmic spiral). Order and chance both play key roles in the creation of my work, which has affinities to Abstract Expressionism (size, scale, and Òoff-frame space), Surrealism (light, the darkroom, photograms), and Minimalism (material-as-process, seriality, non-representational images, issues of silence). One question frequently asked about my work is How was this picture made? More recently, this has been joined by the question What is this a picture of? With these two questions my art not only confronts photography-as-process )the Polaroid camera is both invention and a process) but also challenges the prescribed expectation that photographs depict reality.
Abstraction is well-established in painting, but still emergent in photography, as is suggested by the Abstract Urge and Content and Discontent exhibitions, both curated by photography critic Andy Grunberg and both including my work. In my particular case, abstraction has in the last few years approached more and more closely towards Minimalism, as my most recent one-person show in New York bears out. The reason is that I wish to push the parameters of the photographic medium, both to ques.tion the process by which a pho.to.graph is made and raise the issue of photographic meaning in the absence from the frame of a recognizable representation.
Abstraction in photography is a virtual contradiction in terms, and Minimalism a further oxymoron. It is at the particular intersection where a photograph is devoid of any recognizable image that I wish to concentrate my artistic, intellectual and aesthetic energies. At the present juncture in my professional and creative life, a fellowship would provide me with the necessary time and the appropriate professional support to further develop the underpinning kinship between art and science which is already a strong presence in my work. Areas that I need in particular to further investigate are physics, especially as it pertains to light and color; the proportional harmonies that are found both in the natural sciences and in architecture; and the meditations on life's complexities that are found in theology, especially in the religious teachings of Tibet.
]Minimalism remains distinctly underdeveloped in photography, but is well established in contemporary painting and sculpture, with specific affinities between my work and the sculpture of Dan Flavin (color and light), the paintings of Ellsworth Kelly and Agnes Martin (simplicity and repetition), the conceptual art of Sol LeWitt (geometry and systems), and the sculptural installations of the late Donald Judd (non-art materials and the square). The work of all these artists has a sublime presence and a timeless eloquence that not only challenges ideas about what is and what is not art, but also carries with it spiritual and perceptual overtones that are existentially self-defining. In my own work, this same combination of qualities can be seen in a palette linked with the stained-glass window of my Catholic upbringing which serves as the basis for a rigorous investigation of light, that primary agent responsible for all photography.
I view myself as a late 20th century artist, using the tools of her time for personal expression. More often than not, the tool in question is the large format Polaroid 20 X 24 camera. This camera, of which there are only five in the world, was built approximately twenty years ago under the sponsorship of the Polaroid Corporation. Ideas and visual codes that I have used freely in my art practices derive from the discoveries of Benoit Mandelbrot, who developed fractal geometry. I have also used in my own work ideas found in the writings of Rudolf Arnheim, whose basic thesis that art has two structures (the circle and the square) can be seen in connection with my use of the photographic apparatus with its circular lens and rectangular camera body. These conceptual and contextual affinities have both given me the tools to create in a more meaningful way and have underwritten a richer synoptic clarity in the end result.
As our culture spins towards the 21st century, camera-based and technological media like photography seem logical and appealing choices for certain artists. Photography's protean diversity, its comparatively short history, its technical advances, and the universality of its images all speak to the interests of those artists in addressing issues beyond and outside the rarefied concerns of the art world of former times. It is in this spirit that I have made a conscious decision to work in a medium in which a machine can combine with imagination to redefine notions of truth and beauty at 1/125th of a second.
1978 M.F.A. State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
(About FacelMasks), The Charter Oak Cultural Center, Hartford, CT
The Big Picture Show, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
Diverse Visions\photographic perspectives,TYe Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, curated by Jayne H. Baum and Vicky Clark, Pittsburgh, PA
Collecting in the '90's, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT
Delirium, Ricco/Maresca, New York, NY
Alternatives: Twenty Years of Hallwalls 1975 - 1995, The Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY (brochure)
Moholy Nagy and Present Company, The Chicago Art Institute, Chicago, IL
Content and Discontent in Today's Photography, curated by Andy Grundberg, traveled by ICI, Bruce Museum, Greenwich, CT; Prichard Art Gallery, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, and The Lowe Museum, Coral Gables, FL (brochure)
Trusting in Magic, Nine Photographers, curated by Janice MehIman, Kingsborough
Community College Art Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Abstract Photographs, The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD
Issues and Identities: Recent Acquisitions in Contemporary Photography, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Making Pictures, Caldwell College, Caldwell, NJ
Beyond the Camera, Large-Scale Manipulated Photographs, ARTSPACE, New Haven, CT
The Camera I, Photographic-Self Portraits from the Audrey and Sydney Imas Collection,The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; traveling to: AkronArt Museum, Akron, OH (book)
The Abstract Urge, curated by Andy Grundberg, Ansel Adams Center for Photography, San Francisco, CA (traveling)
The Instant Image, curated by Ludwig Datene, Park Avenue Atrium, New York, NY
Life Lessons, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
1993- Fictions of the Self, curated by Michael Coblyn and Trevor Richardson, Weatherspoon 94 Gallery, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC, traveling to: Herter Art Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA; Palazzo de Exhibitions, Rome, Italy; Museum of Modern Art, Nice, France (catalogue)
Concurrence, 100 Pearl Street Gallery, Hartford, CT (two-person w/ Mary Frey)
Moving Shadows, curated by Christian Haub, Tennisport Arts, Long Island City, NY
The Abortion Project, urated by Kathe Burkhart and Chrysanne Strathacos, Hallwalls Gallery, Buffalo, NY, traveling to: New Langton Arts, San Francisco, CA
Abstraction in the 90's, The Jan Kesner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Colt 4, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT (catalogue)
Representatives: Women Photographers from the Permanent Collection, Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Selections 6, Photokina, Polaroid Corporation, Cologne, Germany (book)
Art that Happens to be Photography, Texas Gallery, Houston, TX
Fifteen Years of RAW, Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT
Mixing the Medium; Beyond Silver Photography, curated by Davis Pratt, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (catalogue)
People and Places, 100 Pearl Street Gallery, Hartford, CT
Resonance, Lyman Allyn Museum, New London, CT
The David C. Ruttenberg Collection, The Art Institute, Chicago, IL (catalogue)
Summer Group Exhibition, Jayne H. Baum Gallery, New York, NY
Techno-Real, Sol Mednick Gallery, The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA
Towards 2000, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
Against Interpretation, C.E.P.A. Gallery, Buffalo, NY
5 Person Exhibition, Vrej Baghoomian Gallery, New York, NY
Highlights, Jayne H. Baum Gallery, New York, NY
Identities: Portraiture in Contemporary Photography, Philadelphia Arts Alliance, Philadelphia, PA
Selections 5, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France (catalogue)
Summer Group Exhibition, John Good Gallery, New York, NY
Artists Portraits by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Mary Boone Gallery, New York, NY Fotografle, Wissenschaft und neue Technologien, Kunstmuseum, Dusseldorf, Germany (catalogue)
Nature and Culture: Conflict and Reconciliation in Recent Photography, The Friends of Photography at Ansel Adams Center, San Francisco, CA
The Photography of Invention: American Pictures of the 1980's, curated by Joshua Smith
The National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN (book)
Chaos, John Good Gallery, New York, NY
Complexity and contradictions, The Zilka Art Gallery, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
Connecticut Photographers, Real Art Ways (RAW), Hartford, CT
First Person Singular. Self-Portrait in Photography, 1840-1988, The High Museum, Atlanta, GA (catalogue)
Gallery Artists, John Good Gallery, New York, NY
Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Layers of Meaning, Tower Gallery, New York, NY
New Surrealism, The Catskill Center for Photography, Woodstock, NY (catalogue)
Photography on the Edge, Haggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI (catalogue)
The Photo-Ostensive (Propositions of the Phenomenal and the Mundane), Jayne H. Baum Gallery, New York, NY
Small Scale, The Frank Bernarducci Gallery, New York, NY
Twenty from New York, Nina Freudenheim Gallery, Buffalo, NY
Woman and Self-Image, Art Museum, Miami University, Oxford, OH (catalogue)
(Re)Productions, White Columns, New York, NY
Photo Synthesis, Frank Bernarducci Gallery, New York, NY
Poetic Injury. the Surrealist Legacy in Postmodern Photography, The Alternative Museum, New York, NY (catalogue)
Portrayals, International Center of Photography Midtown, New York, NY (catalogue)
Spirals of Artificiality, Hallwalls, Buffalo, NY (catalogue)
Context as Content, The Catskill Center for Photography, Woodstock, NY
Four Photographers, Promenade Gallery, Bushnell Memorial Hall, Hartford, CT
Modem Art at Harvard, The Sackler Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
P, 303 Gallery, New York, NY
Painted Pictures, Houston Foto Fest, Houston, TX
Pictures, Simon Cerigo, New York, NY
Recent Acquisitions, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY
1986 Sadness, Simon Cerigo Gallery, New York, NY
Self PortraitIlPhotography 1840-1985, National Portrait Gallery, London, England (catalogue)
Weird Beauty, The Palladium, New York, NY
1985 Acquisitions, Dorry Gates Gallery, Kansas City, MO
KCAI Centennial, The Nelson Atkins Museum, Kansas City, MO
Daniel Newburg Gallery, New York, NY
Persona Non Grata, Daniel Newburg Gallery, New York, NY
Photo-Graphic, Art City, New York, NY
Sexuality. Expressions and Perceptions, Art City, New York, NY
The Show Room, Michael Kkatz Gallery, New York, NY
Summer Selections, Castelli Uptown, New York, NY 303 Gallery, New York, NY
1984 Chill Out, The Kenkelba House, New York, NY
Hallwalls Ten Years, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY (catalogue)
The Heroic Figure, 17th Sa6 Paulo Biennale, The Rio de Janiero Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; toured in North and South America until 1986 (catalogue)
New Images in Photography, The School of Visual Arts, New York, NY
Patterns,Laguna Gloria Art Museum, Austin, TX
Wedge Benefit, Nature Morte, New York, NY
1983 Contemporary Self-Portraiture in Photography, Hayden Art Gallery, M.I.T., Cambridge, MA
Three Dimensional Photographs, Castelli Graphics, New York, NY
Faces Since the 50's, Center GalleryBucknell University, Lewisberg, PA (catalogue)
Olsen Gallery, New York, NY
Pace/MacGill, New York, NY
Portico Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
Contemporary Photography as Phantasy, The Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara. CA, traveled until 1984 (catalogue)
Figures: Forms and Expressions, The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY (catalogue)
Nineteen from New York, Nina Freudenheim Gallery, Buffalo, NY
Painting, Pattern, Photograph, The Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA
Photograph Transformed, Stefanotti Gallery, New York, NY
Photo Start, The Bronx Museum, Bronx, NY (catalogue)
Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati, OH
Some Contemporary Portraits, The Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX
Lichtbildnisse, Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn, Germany (book)
The Markers, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA (catalogue)
Photo, Metro Pictures, New York, NY
Photo Fusion, The Pratt Manhattan Center, New York, NY (catalogue)
Points of Departure, Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York, NY
HallWallslFive Years, The New Museum, New York, NY (catalogue)
Marvin Heiferman Selects, The Texas Gallery, Houston, TX
The Hoffer Memorial Collection, Picker Art Gallery, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY
Painterly Photographs, Washington Project for the Arts, Washington, D.C. and Media
Studies Center, State University of New York at Buffalo, NY (catalogue)
Altered Photographs, P.S. II/Center for Urban Resources, Long Island City, NY
Buffalo/ChicagolExchange, NAME Gallery, Chicago, IL
CAPS Show, The Nikon House, New York, NY (catalogue)
Ellen Carey, Larry Williams, Marcia Resnick, Chicago Center for Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL
Colors in Question, The Catskill Center for Photography, Woodstock, NY
The Grotesque in Photography, Neikrug Gallery, New York, NY (book)
Inside, Galerie Optica, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Syracuse Show, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY
Polaroid Show, Camerawork Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Where N'When, HallWalls, Buffalo, NY
Images of Women, Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME
Manipulated Polaroids, Wheelock College, Boston, MA
Recent Portraiture, Renaissance Society of University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Spectrum: An Invitational, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY
Subject Women, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Lawrence, Lawrence, KS
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
Highland Hospital, Rochester, NY
SELECTED BOOKS, PERIODICALS AND CATALOGUES
Cathcart, Linda L.
Cathcart, Linda L.
Cathcart, Linda L.
Coke, Van Deren.
Grundberg, Andy and Ed Yankov.
Grundberg, Andy and Jerry Saltz.
Laster, Paul and Renee Ricardo.
Pickover, Dr. Clifford,
Sobieszek, Robert A., and Irmas, Deborah.
SELECT ARTICLES & REVIEWS
Aletti, Vince. Voice Choice, G
Center, Newsletter Review, San Fransisco, CA, cover ill.
Gast, Dwight V.
Herald Tribune, New York, NY, September 16, p. 1.
The Hartford Advocate, The Colt of Personality, Hartford, CT, week of 5/28 - 6/3/92, pp. 6 - 7, cover ill.
Mason, Johnny Jr. Colt 4 Exhibit Draws Diversified Crowd to Atheneum, The Hartford Courant, Hartford, CT, May 17.
McNally, Owen. The Colt 4: Atheneum Draws Big Local Guns for New Show, The Hartford Courant, Hartford, CT, May 17, pp. G1, G4, three ills.
Zimmer, William. '
The Portrait and Self Portrait, The Center for Photography at Woodstock Newsletter, Woodstock, NY, Workshops'92.
Photographs by Ellen Carey Now on Exhibit, Arts in the Academy, Washington, DC.
Footnotes, The ARAA Bulletin, Washington, DC, June, p. 3, ill.
Independent Curators Incorporated, The Print Collector's Newsletter, New York, NY, Vol. 23, No. 2, May - June.
Stretch, Bonnie Barrett.
Annual Museum Previews, Art in America, New York, NY, August, Vol. 74, #8, p.35
Artwork: Ellen Carey, Bomb, New York, NY, Winter
Ellen Carey - Portfolio, Photo Japan, Tokyo, Japan, pp. 49 - 50, ill.
Ellen Carey is currently Associate Professor of Photography at the Hartford Art School, The University of Hartford. She lives and works in New York City and Hartford, Connecticut. A video documentary, "PULLS", produced by John Froats (Daniel Wolf, NYC), is of her work on the Polaroid 20 x 24 camera.