Photography by MaryEllen Hendricks: Opening Reception July 13
After graduating with a BFA in photography from Pratt Institute some three decades ago, MaryEllen Hendricks focused on night photography for years, “light-painting” her subjects with tools like a high-intensity flashlight. Then, ten years ago, she found herself drawn to the mysterious, still quality of the work of late 19th & early 20th century photographers, the product of both the materials then available and the long exposures used to record the images. To capture some of the qualities in the work of photographers she admired, like Carleton Watkins, Julia Margaret Cameron, and Karl Blossfeldt, she attached a barrel lens from the late 1800s to her 4x5 view camera, and with that as well as her exploration of 19th century printing techniques, her photography changed dramatically.
Recently Hendricks began exploring portraiture and landscapes, again using large-format cameras and antique lenses. Continually finding inspiration in early photography, she started printing these images with platinum and gum bichromate vintage processes, giving a timeless feel to contemporary subjects.
Last winter she also added plastic “toy” cameras to her toolkit, which are more portable than the view cameras she typically uses. She reports enjoying the unpredictable nature of these cameras, not really knowing what the final image will look like, and she delights in the freedom—and fun—they give her that she finds larger cameras cannot. She plans to continue seeking magic in everyday life through photography, wherever that may lead.
A show of Hendricks’ recent work, entitled “Past Exposures,” is on exhibit in Westport Library’s Great Hall, until Wednesday, September 26.