Mary Ellen Bartley
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Mary Ellen Bartley, All the More Real, Pigment Print, 2011, Edition 2/7, Signed verso.
In Standing Open I visit photography books as they stand open before my camera, using their chance settling and a full-frame, close-up view to see them in a new way, as my gaze falls into and out of the books, and into and out of abstraction.
This work interests me on many levels. First, there is the beauty of the interior space and structure of the books, and the unique formal discoveries found from looking at them close-up. The stripes the pages create, the shadowy voids between pages that read like burns or stains, and the reflections the photos can make on the pages facing them are among the repeating formal motifs I’ve found.
On another level I’m fascinated by conceptual ideas concerning appropriation and reproduction in a mechanical versus digital age that the work can’t help but throw into question. What is the unique aura or presence of a book? How is an image seen and remembered?
Finally what drives the work for me is the emotional connection I have to the books. I’m trying to convey the sensuality and intimacy of reading and looking through books as well as the fleeting inspiration and little jolts of connection that readers find in books they love.
A New York City native, Bartley now resides in Wainscott, on the east end of Long Island. She earned her BFA at Purchase College, where she began her fine art studies in painting and drawing. Bartley was a Photolucida Critical Mass 2011 top 50 winner, and she earned a Juror Commendation from Houston Center for Photography’s Annual Juried show, where she also exhibited. A combination of her book projects, Books, was exhibited at Corden Potts Gallery in San Francisco and she was chosen by the painter Ross Bleckner to exhibit her work alongside his at the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, NY. Bartley is included in the recently published 20 Now: Contemporary Photographers along with Adam Fuss and Roger Ballen. Upcoming shows include Out of Print at the Bakersfield Art Museum and a solo show at Guild Hall Museum in East Hampton, NY.