Writers on the Artwork of Ellen Carey


Published Essays:

Ellen Carey: Polaroid 20 X 22 Self-Portrait  Installation view, Center Pompidou, Paris   2016 ––

Ellen Carey: Polaroid 20 X 22 Self-Portrait
Installation view, Center Pompidou, Paris


Interview with Ellen Carey, Poet With A Lens, Les années 1980, Centre Pompidou, Paris

Tim Barry
Aesthetica Magazine

On a freezing cold February day in 1934, the poet Wallace Stevens squinted into the sunlight as he walked up the granite steps of the Wadsworth Atheneum. Inside the Hartford, Connecticut art museum, he raked his eyes along row after row of Picasso paintings, works which had never been gathered in any museum in the United States.  His bulky frame was arrested in front of one painting in particular, “The Old Guitarist.” (more)

Read Complete Essay

Ellen Carey: Polaroid 20 X 22 Self-Portraits  Installation view, M+B Gallery  Los Angeles, CA  2015   ––

Ellen Carey: Polaroid 20 X 22 Self-Portraits
Installation view, M+B Gallery

Los Angeles, CA

Beyond the Self: The Early Polaroids of Ellen Carey

Chris Wiley

Sometimes, things do not so much fall into place effortlessly, like the languid hand of a dreamer might come to rest on a waiting pillow, but rather rise up and insist on their place within a moment in time. Ellen Carey’s work came to my attention like that—insistently—as if it could not abide being missed. (more)

Read Complete Essay

Ellen Carey,  Pulls with Mixed Media & Offset Pods  2010 ––

Ellen Carey, Pulls with Mixed Media & Offset Pods

Let There Be Light:
The Black Swans of Ellen Carey

AKUS Gallery
Eastern Connecticut State University

Catalogue Introduction
by Roxanne Deojay
Curator and Director

Catalogue Essay
"The Black Swans of Ellen Carey: Of Necessary Poetic Realities"
by Donna Fleischer

When we look at art, we try to find a connection to it. We go through a series of internal inquiries based on images planted in our minds from the very first time we picked up a crayon as small children. We have been molded by our teachings through time to make careful selections that align with widely accepted social and cultural justifications. Ellen Carey brings us back to that pre-molded juncture prior to the progression of concepts derived from others. What if I don’t “complete” the process? What if the process itself is the end to the mean? Carey explores the darkroom in a manner in such opposition to traditional photography that her studio should be referred to as a light room. She manages to conceptualize two of the things we need to survive in this world, dark and light, to bring forth striking imagery that breaks down the mental barriers we have come to accept over time. (more)

Read Complete Essay

Ellen Carey / Matrix 153 Wadsworth Atheneum Hartford, CT 2004 ––

Ellen Carey / Matrix 153
Wadsworth Atheneum
Hartford, CT

Photography Degree Zero
Ellen Carey/Matrix 153

Joanna Marsh
Acting Curator of Contemporary Art

Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
Hartford, CT

There is no doubt that photography holds a significant place in the contemporary canon of fine art. However, the journey to this highly-sought position would not have been possible without the development of new techniques and materials which have influenced both the practice and perception of photography. The invention of the Polaroid process by Dr. Edwin H. Land in 1947 stands as a milestone in the history of photographic technology and the elevated status of photography as a fine art. Despite its primary purpose as a commercial and utilitarian tool for taking instant snapshots, Dr. Land recognized the aesthetic potential of his Polaroid camera. By enlisting photographers like Ansel Adams to test new products and films in the late 1940s, Land began a Polaroid tradition of engaging with and promoting camera artists. (more)

Read Complete Essay

Andy Grundberg
Ellen Carey: Mourning Wall


Ellen Carey,  Mourning Wall  ––

Ellen Carey, Mourning Wall

“Objectivity is the very essence of photography,” the photographer Paul Strand once said, “its contribution and at the same time its limitation.” Strand, who as much as anyone (that is to say, as much as Alfred Stieglitz) helped define photography’s modernist aesthetic, felt that his medium’s essentials – camera, lens, black-and-white film, the positive/negative process – allowed photographs to mimic the world as closely as an ink fingerprint mimics the pattern of ridges and valleys of a real finger. The meaning of a photograph, according to this belief, is metonymic, because it partakes of the larger thing it describes. (more)

Read Complete Essay

Michael Walsh
Back To The Future:
The Photography of Ellen Carey

National Academy of Sciences
Washington, D.C.

Ellen Carey,  Polaroid 20 x 24 Self-Portrait Series  ––

Ellen Carey, Polaroid 20 x 24 Self-Portrait Series

Critical commentary on the remarkable levée of women photographers of the 1980s has tended to focus on artists like Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, and Louise Lawler, which is to say on work that can easily be seen as critical commentary in itself. It is hardly surprising that critics should enlarge most enthusiastically on the work that most immediately shares their own guild-values, and in a period that combined political reaction with a new feeding frenzy in the art market, this response was quite understandable, even desirable. Yet among the things forgotten in the rush to recode art photography as criticism of media ideologies was the original utopian promise of modernism. This is the promise that made whole schools of women artists in the first place possible; rumors of its death have been greatly exaggerated by analysts of postmodernism. (more)

Read Complete Essay

Willis Hartshorn
Ellen Carey: Survey 1978-1986

International Center of Photography

Ellen Carey, Black & White Self-Portrait Series 1978 ––

Ellen Carey, Black & White Self-Portrait Series

Photography’s ability to depict “reality” has been one of its most praised and valued qualities. Faith in the believability of the photograph led to the assumption that the appearance of an object somehow revealed its essence. This belief is particularly strong in our attitudes toward the portrait and its supposed ability to express the inner state and thoughts of the sitter. Yet, the appearance of discernible truth beyond the surface characteristics of the subject is an illusion. The photographic portrait is able to convey only clues to the sitter’s thoughts. It is understandable, then, that an artist interested in expressing internal states of mind would look for ways to extend the connotative power of the image. Ellen Carey combines the realism of the photograph with the evocative power of paint and collage to create an image that not only records appearance but suggests essence. (more)

Read Complete Essay

Unpublished Essays:

Ellen Carey, Polaroid 20 x 24 Penlights ––

Ellen Carey, Polaroid 20 x 24 Penlights

Donna Fleischer
The Black Swans of Ellen Carey: Of Necessary Poetic Realities


Ellen Carey, with or without a camera, pulls and photograms a visual rainbow of poetic realities from a primal darkness that dreams the next moment. Her abstract and minimal pictures range from high impact and fully saturated to restrained, quieter or iridescent colors and forms that she plucks from random encounters in the chaotic flux of becoming, then organizes, and places in motion by any variety of decisions she will make. Her experience, agile, muscular brilliance and energy collaborate with the unpredictable or capricious fact of the image, that is, something new. Her work is unprecedented in photography — a black swan phenomenon. (more)

Read Complete Essay

Ellen Carey,  Purple Negative   2002 ––

Ellen Carey, Purple Negative 

Ben Lifson
From Matrix to Monumental


There are artists who (we are persuaded) are afforded glimpses of another realm, of a better order, or of order itself and its possibilities, which glimpses inform their art from that point on. Ellen Carey is such an artist. Hers is a visionary world from which she has returned to give us reports, which are her pictures. (more)

Read Complete Essay

Alden Gordon
Drawing with Light, Painting with Emulsion:
Ellen Carey's Pulls and Penlights

Trinity College, Hartford, CT

Ellen Carey, Penlights, Magenta ––

Ellen Carey, Penlights, Magenta

In the great realm of photography – all the processes that used light sensitive materials to fix images – there are two broad categories. There are all of the photographic images which are made by the agency of cameras with lenses and then there are the images which are made without the use of lenses by direct manipulation of the photosensitive materials themselves. The vast majority of photography is of the first type, in which the photographer uses the optics of lenses, from pin-hole simple to ultra-sophisticated remote controlled devices capable of recording minute detail from satellites in space. The lens photographer selects his/her images from all the possibilities of visible phenomenon that can be placed before the lens. (more)

Read Complete Essay